Outdoor News and Reports

FISHING

Williamson County is the premier destination for fishermen in Southern Illinois. We attract professional and amateur fishermen alike with our popular lakes, annual fishing tournaments, and year-round fishing opportunities. From the well-known 7,000-acre Crab Orchard Lake and 2,300-acre Lake of Egypt to the 30-acre Arrowhead Lake and everything in between, fishermen relish in the abundance of largemouth bass, crappie, bluegill, channel catfish and other popular species being caught here.

SOUTHERN ILLINOIS FISHING REPORT – April 6, 2018

Crab Orchard Lake: Most crappies are still holding over deeper cover on minnows and jigs. Some anglers were also taking some bluegills near the riprap on a variety of baits. Catfish action is still slow. Largemouth bass fishing has been good on plastic worms and spinnerbaits. Drop lures deep and crank slow, as bass begin to become more active as the water warms. Look for structure or signs of vegetation. Bass will be feeding heavily in coming weeks. Bluegills good on worms and even on some jigs and small blades. Fish a little small, but bigger bluegills expected to start biting soon.

Carlyle Lake: Crappies are rated fair and are being caught on top of structure and in the brush piles. Most fish are holding in three to five feet of water. Minnows and jigs are the primary bait. White bass are rated good and should continue to bite through spring on tube jigs, minnows, and curly tails. Catfish action is improving on shad, shad gut, and nightcrawlers. Saugers are also rated good on curly tails tipped with minnows or nightcrawlers. Bluegills fair.

Kinkaid Lake: Muskies have picked up and are expected to be plentiful this spring. Bluegills are being caught in three to five feet of water on wigglers and waxworms. Crappies are holding in 5-10 feet of water and have been good on minnows and jigs. Bass fair on plastics and spinners. A little early for topwater, but worth a try during the early evening. Catfish being caught on stinkbait and worms.

Rend Lake: Crappies fair on jigs and minnows in water ranging from 5-10 feet along Route 154. Fish are holding in brush piles. Bass and bluegills are rated slow. A few bass are being caught on spinners, crankbaits, soft plastics, and Rat-L-Traps along the riprap or in weed beds. Catfish remain steady and good on cut shad, shad gut, nightcrawlers, minnows, and stinkbait.

Lake of Egypt: Bass looking good in shallows and in coves. Crappie action has been good in 15-18 feet. Fish are holding over brush piles and near docks. Catfish good on a variety of baits. Some good-sized channel cats being pulled in on liver. Bluegills good on worms and small blades.

Little Grassy: Bass good on plastics of all kinds and colors. Most are hitting in the late evening, near structure or shorelines. Bluegills fair on worms. A few catfish caught on worms and shad.

Pinckneyville City Lake: Bass good on spinners and plastics, with evening best. Try letting worms hit bottom and reel in slow. Bluegills good on worms near structure. Some hand-sized fish being caught.

FREE Fishing Day At Crab Orchard Refuge

By Don Gasaway

The event is for kids 12 and under but it is one of the more pleasant experiences of the year. Annual Free Fishing Days Kids Derby at Crab Orchard National Wildlife Refuge in southern Illinois. The event on June 9, 2018 is staffed and sponsored by local merchants, the US Fish & Wildlife Service, the Illinois Department of Natural Resources and local volunteers from Take Pride in America and Friends of Crab Orchard Refuge.
The only expense to families in attendance is the cost of gasoline to get to Prairie Creek Recreation Area. To get there exit Illinois Route 13 at Green Briar Road and go south to Campground Road. Follow Campground Road 1 ½ miles west to the Prairie Creek Recreation Area.
Participants may bring their own tackle or use the rods and reels provided. Bait is provided.
Worms are the most popular bait among the young set. They catch almost any kind of fish. Worms are not difficult to thread on a hook. Adult assistance for fishing techniques and in baiting a hook is available if required.
The first 100 children to register at the site receive a free T-shirt. Other awards are for the biggest fish, smallest fish and most fish in each of the age categories. Fishing began at 8:00 A.M. and continues until noon when the participants are treated to a free lunch and the awards are announced.
The idea is for the youngsters to have a positive experience. Then they will want to return. They might even bring an adult with them.
For more information about this event, contact the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service Visitor Center at Crab Orchard National Wildlife Refuge. The telephone number is 618-997-3344. The center is located at 8588 Route 148, Marion, Illinois 62959.

HUNTING

Williamson County has some of the finest game bird, waterfowl, deer, turkey, and small game hunting in the Midwest, thanks to our mix of popular flyways, lakes, hardwood forests, cropland, wetlands, river bottom topography and nearby Shawnee National Forest and Crab Orchard National Wildlife Refuge. Ducks and geese have long been the most popular species to hunt here, and public hunting grounds abound. There are also at least 5 private hunt clubs operating in Williamson County that provides a wide range of services for the optimum waterfowl hunting experience.

 

YEAR-END PUBLIC HUNTING ACCESS

With so many hunters on private land there often is not a lot of public land hunting available. Such is not true in southern Illinois where much of the prairie state’s public hunting is located. Unfortunately, many of us do not take advantage of this opportunity and continue to complain that there is no good public hunting.

In Southern Illinois, numerous public lands are available for hunting. In fact, within one hour drive of Marion, Illinois there are approximately 500,000 acres of public hunting land. Much of it is accessible via interstate roads.

One problem with hunting in public areas is the perception that early season hunting has ruined the possibility of good hunting later. However many public lands are actually overlooked or just plain not hunted at all. Areas near roads and parking lots get the bulk of hunting pressure.

Late in the upland game seasons, agricultural practices can batter much of the prime habitat. Sometimes landowners clear the land from roadway to roadway. The result is that game birds such as pheasants and quail seek out the better habitat situations in public hunting areas. This happens at a time when the human use of the same land is decreasing. The same applies to deer.

It is wise to hunt during the week when hunting pressure is usually less. Public land is a good possibility following a snowstorm as the game move from open grain fields to the security of more hospitable habitat.

On public hunting ground, there are usually site-specific regulations the hunter should check them before taking to the field. Hunter orange is a wise investment for the public land hunter. In some areas, it is required. It is a good idea even if not required. It helps keep someone for mistaking you for a game animal. It is also useful in keeping track of the people in your party as they move through tall grass and brush.

A copy of the regulations is usually available from the site superintendents or from the offices of whichever governmental agency is responsible is responsible for the management of the area.

There are maps of the most public hunting areas available either on site or from the offices of wildlife officials. In some areas, the local county highway department may have maps available. It pays to use a map to find areas not readily accessible from roads and trials. Mark the map and scout the area. Look for protected areas with good cover and food sources. Keep notes from year to year as to where the game is located. Keep the maps and they will save valuable hunting time next year.

A wise hunter scouts through the poor prospects to the good areas beyond them. Get to know the land intimately.

Regardless of where one lives there is usually public land hunting available. All one needs to do is find it. With a little advance work and some common sense, one can have a great late season hunt on public land.

Do not give up after an unsuccessful hunt in one particular area. The nice thing about public land is that others will come through and move the game around. The game that was not present one day may well be present the next time you visit.

 

Southern Illinois Waterfowl Survey will be found here when waterfowl season approaches.