March 19, 2014
There's never been a better time for spring fishing in Illinois, so grab your favorite rod and reel and hit the water! Here are the places you won't want to miss.
Crab Orchard Lake
Spring is beginning in southern Illinois and that means crappie time. The fish are on the move this month toward the annual spawning frenzy and anglers can cash in on some fine slabs. Crab Orchard has both black and white crappies with plenty of fish in the range 8 to 10 inches. Larger slabs are also present.
Probing any natural brushpiles or laydowns is a good bet, but so are the many fish attractors placed in the lake by the DNR. Pine trees are sunk to attract baitfish and subsequently game fish as well.
Sitting over or near these spots and either tight-lining a minnow or using vertical jigging often loads the cooler. If the fish are up shallower or seem spooky, back off and fish the minnows under a bobber or cast a Road Runner and retrieve.
La Salle Lake
This cooling lake has a good number of decent-sized bluegills and will satisfy most any panfish enthusiasts. The DNR has even stocked bluegills in the lake to keep the fishery in good shape. There is no grass and not much in the way of other cover, so predation on small bluegills is high. As a result though, the average size caught by anglers is larger than at some other lakes. Plenty of fish in the 7- to 8-inch range are available.
Bluegills have moved up shallow by now and are preparing to hit the bedding areas very soon. Just like bass, they are feeding up in preparation to spawn, so they will readily take a wide variety of live or natural baits as well as small artificial lures, inline spinners, poppers or flies.
Boat anglers should take caution on windy days. Plenty of bank fishing areas are available as well as a handicap-accessible fishing pier located at Ivy Point.
Lake Of Egypt
Bass anglers love the spawning season, all three phases of it. Of course, the most aggressive bass bite is during the immediate pre-spawn time frame, but some anglers love the challenge of targeting fish on the beds and then as the fish start feeding back up post spawn. No matter the favorite stage of spawn, anglers can often find bass in all three stages somewhere at Lake of Egypt in May.
The lake has lots of coves and shallow water areas, but also some deeper areas, too. The water depth and length of Egypt often results in water temperature varying as much as 10 to 12 degrees from one end to the other. This gives anglers lots of options when bass fishing.
Most any tactic is viable in May. Anglers can flip shallow water, drag plastics in other areas, or throw crankbaits or Rat-L-Traps in others. Swimjigs and the Yum Money Minnow have been very hot baits in the last few seasons.
Don't forget to share your best fishing photos with us on Camera Corner for your chance to win free gear!
Suzuki's two new four-stroke, two-cylinder portable outboards have a compression reduction system for easier starting. The 20hp tiller model weighs 97 pounds the eletric-start model weighs 106 pounds. Single overhead cam, four-valve engine with Suzuki's Lean Burn Control and bat-tery-less electronic fuel injection. Built for running in skinny water, both motors come with five tilt pin positions and 15- or 20-inch shaft.
TACKLE TOTE VEST
If you wade when you fish, Fish-N-Hunt Pro Gear designed a Tackle Tote Vest that to keep gear accessible but dry when you're standing in deeper waters. It's adjustable, sturdy, has lots of pockets and a modest pricetag.
Honda Marine's BF250 outboard is a 24-valve 3.6-liter V6 that uses varia-ble valve timing and lift electronic control (VTEC). Programmed fuel injection delivers the precise amount of fuel and air to each cylinder for easy starts and instant throttle re-sponse. 20-, 25- and 30-inch shaft models.
FLEX 'N GO TACKLE SATCHEL
On-the-go anglers will find a lot to like in Plano's new Flex 'N Go Tack-le Satchel. It features adjustable built-in storage with a deep bin on one side and framework for the pair of swap-pable Plano 3600 StowAway boxes on the other, each Stowaway held with a flexible strap.
MSRP, Jacket $249.99-$269;
Cabela's Guidewear raingear now comes in four distinct series. Bass Angler (pictured) jackets and bibs are built with the tournament bass angler in mind. Xtreme parkas and bibs will help anglers fishing Northern lakes and rivers. Tidal jackets and pants offer lightweight, waterproof and breathable protection. River Runner jackets are perfect for wading anglers.
MSRP, $18.95 per pair.
The original Gear Grabbar is a unique way to hold lures and tools at the ready in boats. But the new Lure Hangar is a step beyond. This is a 12- by 16 1/2-inch plate,m ade to mount on your gunwhale, that holds 16 or more lures. There's enough room for a selection of jig, plugs, topwaters or whatever other baits you want to hang.
The new AV Micro is a complete underwater camera system that is the same size as a smart phone. On the boat or off the dock, use it to see where fish are hanging out. 3 1/2-inch diagonal display. Built-in rechargea-ble lithium ion batteries.
BERKLEY TRILENE XL
Berkley says they've improved a classic. New Trilene XL lines are now 10 percent stronger 20 percent more flexibility then they had been. Knot strength has also improved, said the company. Trilene XL has been around since 1972.
ABU GARCIA REVO SX
Abu Garcia's Revo SX baitcasting reel is now 25 percent lighter than before. The SX frame is crafted of a strong alloy while the handle sideplate are built with weight-reducing C6 carbon. Holds 145 yards of 12-pound mono.
SIMMS WEATHER GEAR
MSRP, jacket $349, bibs $299.
Simms designed its Contender Gore-Tex jacket and bibs for anglers who need reliability when they are motor-ing on the water at 70 mph in rain and wind. Waterproof and breathable. Cuffs are water tight and adjustable.
Anglers like their tools close by. And it's even better if it's connected to you so it doesn't go in the drink. T-Reign retractable gear tethers hold onto your pliers, hemostats or landing net. Several size options. Carabiner connects to D-ring, belt loop or strap, or use the stainless steel clip on belt or pack.