Photo by Michael Skinner
Every bass angler has dreamed of finding his own honeyhole. In fantasy fishing, there’s no waiting at the boat launch, no race to the best spots, and the largemouths are plentiful.
If this sounds like what transverses through your mind, you can make your dream come true by going bass fishing on these overlooked southern Illinois waters. While the southern half of our state is home to some of the best largemouth water in the Midwest, few folks know about these hotspots that are full of bass.
PARIS TWIN LAKES
“Twin Lakes is a real sleeper,” said Department of Natural Resources biologist Mike Mounce about this lake on the outskirts of Paris in Edgar County. “In recent surveys, both lakes had a significant catch rate. In the east lake, catch rates for mature fish were 50 per hour, and 53 per hour in the west lake. We found good numbers up to 20 inches, with the largest weighing just over 5 pounds.”
An angler confirmed big bass in this lake eight miles west of Indiana.
“During tournaments, we catch a lot of nice bass at Paris,” said Kyle Johnson of the Lincoln Land Bassmasters. “Crankbaits, tubes and jigs tend to be the best. Most anglers fish around the laydowns or they flip docks.”
Both lakes have a combined surface area of 220 acres. For more information on the access fee, call Paris City Hall at (217) 465-7601. For travel and lodging information, contact the Paris Chamber of Commerce at (217) 465-4179.
LINCOLN TRAIL LAKE
One of Illinois’ oldest impoundments, Lincoln Trail Lake in Clark County doesn’t draw the number of anglers that nearby Mill Creek does, but this 146-acre gem is one for you to seriously consider.
“Lincoln Trail is very clear,” said biologist Mounce. “A lot of guys shy away from fishing here, but there are some big largemouths available. The size and structure of the population is very good.”
Lincoln Land Bassmasters fish here frequently, and Kyle Johnson said they catch high numbers of 16- to 17-inch largemouths.
“On this lake, we’re usually guaranteed to catch fish,” Johnson said. “Most guys fish crankbaits or plastic worms around laydowns or brushpiles.”
In early summer, largemouths can be found relating to woody debris and emergent weeds in the upper third of the lake. As the water warms, bass move to deeper main-lake points, docks and fish attractors.
Lincoln Trail State Park is located two miles south of Marshall. Boat propulsion is limited to 10 horsepower. For more information, call (217) 826-2222. For travel and lodging info, call the Marshall Chamber of Commerce at (217) 826-2034.
At over 400 acres, Lake Centralia in Marion County has what it takes to put up not only numbers of bass, but some big fish, too.
“Densities are excellent,” said DNR biologist Steve Jenkins. “Over the last two years, a typical catch rate is over 80 fish per hour, there’s a lot of 2- to 4-pound fish, and every year we see largemouths up to 8 pounds caught.”
In early summer, target brush in the numerous coves. Bright spinnerbaits and jigs tend to be productive. In mid- to late summer, bass relate well to the hundreds of main-lake points where they can be caught on deep-diving shad-pattern crankbaits and Texas- or Carolina-rigged plastics.
Excellent facilities are on site. A city boat license is required and can be obtained through the city clerk’s office, (618) 532-2123. For travel and lodging info, call (618) 532-6789.
WHITE HALL CITY LAKE
Greene County doesn’t have many lakes, so one small reservoir has to pick up the slack, and that’s White Hall City Lake.
“White Hall is a good sleeper,” said DNR biologist Jeffery Pontnack. “The last survey turned up 55 bass per hour, and about 26 percent topped out at 2 pounds or more.”
Other than a few locals, not many people venture to White Hall Reservoir to go fishing. However, largemouths up to 8 pounds have been caught here, and it isn’t unusual to find fish in excess of 5 pounds.
You should target weedy banks and woody cover with spinnerbaits and jigs for the best results. Crankbaits fished along the riprap associated with the area around the dam can also be productive.
For more info, call (217) 374-2345.
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