Hunting & Fishing
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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 - August 11, 2017

Crab Orchard Lake: A few anglers are still reporting catching crappies, although fish are running small. Most crappies are being located in water 10-15 feet deep. Minnows and jigs are equally effective. A few catfish are being caught on stinkbaits. Anglers are taking bluegills near the banks on wax worms, meal worms and crickets. Bass anglers are still reporting some success early in the mornings and late in the evenings on soft plastics and buzzbaits.

Horseshoe Lake: Fishing traffic has been light in the heat. Anglers have been drift fishing for catfish throughout the lake. Nightcrawlers are the best bet. Other species are slow.

Carlyle Lake: White bass are biting well below the spillway, with a few fish coming from near the trestles and the silos. Whites are also biting on the main lake on the flats. Channel cats are good on the lake for anglers drifting or jug fishing with cut bait or leeches. Good catches reported near Keyesport and Boulder. Flatheads are also biting well, with a 30-pounder caught recently near the spillway on a bluegill. Cut bait also working as are slab spoons thrown up along the wall. Crappie fishing good below the dam.

Lake Murphysboro: Crappies are fair to good in water ranging from 5-10 feet. Minnows are the primary bait. Catfish are good to very good on nightcrawlers, cut shad and liver. Bluegill and redear action is still good on red wigglers, wax worms and crickets fished in 4-8 feet of water. Bass are also rated fair on deep diving crankbaits and plastic worms.

Kinkaid Lake: Crappies are still rated good at the edge of the weedbeds. Small to medium minnows are the best bait. Bass are still rated fair to good on deep diving crankbaits, Carolina rigs, topwater around weed edges and soft plastics. White bass are surfacing in shallow areas and can be caught on in-line spinners, small crankbaits and beetle spins. Catfish action remains steady on nightcrawlers, cut shad and chicken livers. Bluegills remain fair to good on wax worms and crickets in 4-8 feet of water and around the docks. A few walleyes are being caught trolling deep diving crankbaits around the bars and humps.

Lake of Egypt: Fishing traffic has been light. Most anglers are targeting largemouths. Bass anglers are working deep areas with soft plastics. Catfish anglers are taking a few fish on stinkbaits and chicken liver. Anglers are taking fair numbers of bluegills, but most are running small. Crappies are slow.

Little Grassy: Anglers are taking a few crappies on minnows in water about 20 feet deep. Some small bass are being caught. Anglers are taking a few bluegills on wax worms and meal worms. Catfish have also slowed, but a few fish are being taken on nightcrawlers.

Rend Lake: Fishing remains good across the board. Catfish anglers are still reporting good success on liver, shrimp, nightcrawlers, leeches and stinkbaits fished near the subimpoundment dams or drift fished near rip rap, or shallow areas and near Gun Creek. Crappies are rated good on minnows, white or chartreuse jigs or green and pink jigs. Fish are holding in 8-10 feet of water and can be taken over Christmas tree sets or near bridge pillars. Bluegill anglers are reporting good success on meal worms, wax worms, crickets and red wigglers in shallow coves. Bass are being caught on black buzzbaits, spinnerbaits or a jig and pig.

Devils Kitchen: Bass are fair to good in water ranging from 5-10 feet. Spinners and crankbaits are the primary lures. Catfish are good to very good on nightcrawlers, cut shad and liver. Bluegill action is still good on red wigglers, wax worms and crickets fished in 4-8 feet of water.

By Don Gasaway

Illinois is a state of rivers, lakes and reservoirs.  The state boundaries on the south and the west follow the Ohio and Mississippi Rivers.  The interior of the state is honey combed with waterways.  Early settlers used them for food and transportation needs.  Anywhere in the state one is just a short distance from some great ground pounding on a river bank.

Unless you have fished a river recently you have never fished it.  Rivers are ever changing as flooding rearranges the bottom structure.  It rearranges the deep channels and washes in new obstacles to current flow.

Fish can only manage the battle against the current for a short time.  They look for obstacles behind which they can rest out of the current.  They wait there in search of some forage to come to them.  Heavy current or a lack of it usually means no fish.
Spots where the river flows slows and stops temporarily provide fishing opportunities.  That is where the fish are likely to rest.  These include areas such as eddies behind snags, below sandbars, or those sections of the river with a cut in the river bank.
Fish prefer areas where the vegetation or other structure cast shadows on the water.  It might be a tree hanging over the water, a boat dock or in the shadow of old boats or barges abandoned.    Wooden structures are best.
In warm water bass cannot remain active for long periods without undergoing stress.  They are inactive for a while and then feed in short "feeding frenzies."  In cool water of rivers flowing and mixing action of the current oxygenates the water and allows fish to feed for more extended periods.
Water clarity is important to river fishing.  Seldom is water really "clear."  Subtle presentations are poor ideas in clear water.  Big bright, noisy lures seem to work better.  Big bass in rivers like to take advantage of wounded baitfish or unfortunate creatures that fall into the river.  They strike fast and hard in order to beat another fish to them.  For this reason jointed minnow, buzzbaits and occasionally rubber frog lures are effective.
In larger rivers crankbaits and plastic worms are effective.  Work the plastics slowly to keep the slack out of the line and allow the working of the lure over the bottom.  Set the hook when anything unusual happens in the movement of the line.  In the live bait category the ever popular minnow hooked through the back allows a free fish action that attracts predatory fish.
Long medium action rods are best in river situations.  This is especially true in snagy areas.  Bait cast reels are preferable as they contain clickers.  Spooled with 12-pound line or is equivalent in the super lines, these lines can be cast out and allowed to work with the current.
Lakes and impoundments are usually crowded on weekends.  Rivers and creeks can be a refuge from the crowds.

Click here to view our 2017 Fishing Guide


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 provide a wide range of services for the optimum waterfowl hunting experience.

The comical quacking of a mallard hen and the dawning of a morning with the streaks of orange across a grey sky can make waterfowl hunting a very pleasurable experience.  The impressive flocks of mallards exploding from the water provide the hunter with a quality outdoor experience.  Matching ones skills with gun and game calls against the natural wariness of the waterfowl provides a challenge unmatched in other sports.
The face of waterfowl hunting in the southern Midwest has been gradually changing for several years.  A change in emphasis from goose to duck hunting has helped to relieve the financial woes of farmers and hunting club owners.
According to University of Illinois human dimensions scientist Craig Miller, each duck harvested by a hunter has a monetary value of $453 to the Illinois economy.
Every dollar spent by a hunter generates $1.86 to the local economy.  In general waterfowl hunting provides 2,556 jobs and contributes $20.5 million in state and local taxes.
The change has not been cheap for the landowner.  In order to flood cornfields wells are required.  The club owners seemed to come to the same conclusion at the same time.  As a result more birds hold in the area.
The levees around the fields and wells in them have been a considerable expense.  But, they yield results in increased hunter days.  Foul weather or not the ducks will come and stay for the full sixty day season.
The flooded corn attracts large flocks of mallards.  Hunters report harvests of other species such as wood ducks, gadwall, widgeon, pintail, teal and shoveler.
The geese stay up north as long as the weather permits.  The ducks will move south regardless of the activity of the geese and the weather.  The more reliable supply of birds makes duck hunting more popular with the club owners and hunters.
There are two basic types of ducks that visit here in the Ohio River basin: dabbling ducks and diving ducks.  The first to arrive are the dabbling ducks.  They include such species as mallards, pintails, black ducks, wood ducks and the teal.  These are the ducks that like the shallow, weedy slews, ponds and streams.  They feed on the aquatic plants and seeds.
Later the diving ducks join the dabblers for the rest of the winter.  These ducks like the deeper water where they feed on aquatic plants and invertebrates that they find beneath the surface of the water.  They will dive to depths of three to seven feet in search of food.  This class of birds includes the canvasbacks, redheads, scaup, ring-necked ducks and goldeneye.

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

Click here to view the 2017 Hunting Guide


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