Hunting & Fishing
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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 - October 6, 2017

Crab Orchard Lake: Crappie action continues to be good. Minnows and jigs in 6-8 feet of water around the brush should produce a nice mess of fish. Around the rocks and bridges about 10 feet deep is where you’ll find catfish. Jugs, leeches, cut bait and minnows are the baits of choice. Bass and bluegills are good, as well. Wax worms and crickets for bluegills and anything that makes noise for bass works.

Baldwin Lake: Catfish are on the move and those that are being caught are small. Anglers are tossing crankbaits around rip rap and catching a few bass. Bluegills are slow but will hit on meal worms or wax worms occasionally.

Horseshoe Lake: Catfish are the most popular with the anglers here. The middle of the lake and fairly deep is where they are being caught with nightcrawlers at any time of day. Crappies are slow and those that are being caught are around the brush piles about four feet deep, using minnows. Bass and bluegill fishing slow.

Carlyle Lake: White bass are good, especially in evening. Channel cats are excellent with cut bait, nightcrawlers or leeches. Cut bait is also working for flatheads. Crappies improving below the dam on minnows and jigs.

Lake Murphysboro: Decent numbers and sizes of bluegills are being reported. They are fairly deep and hit best on crickets, red wigglers and wax worms. Crappies are fair using minnows around 12 feet deep. Catfish are fair and deep feeding on nightcrawlers. Bass are not really being fished for or talked about. A few are being caught using deeper diving lures.

Kinkaid Lake: Anglers are reporting that the crappie fishing is starting to pick up nicely. Minnows are the favorite bait in about 12 feet of water around submerged cover. There has not been much talk about bass and the catfish are pretty scarce as well. Bluegills are small but plentiful, hitting on crickets, wax worms and red wigglers.

Lake of Egypt: Crappie fishing is getting better. Around the points and weedbeds seems to be where they are feeding. Anglers are using minnows and jigs with regular success. Fair describes the bass fishing around weedbeds using anything plastic. Shrimp has been a good bait for catfish at night off the shoreline and around the docks.

Little Grassy: Anglers can always catch a nice mess of bluegills using red wigglers, waxworms or meal worms. They are plentiful around weedbeds and other cover and fairly shallow. A few crappies are being taken using minnows in 15-20 feet of water. Catfish are fair around the weedbeds using nightcrawlers. There have been no bass being reported or weighed in.

Rend Lake: White, striped, yellow and hybrid striped bass and channel cat are rated good. Anglers are catching the different species of bass with curly tailed jigs and large minnows. Drifting the minnows along the edge of Highway 154 and tossing jigs over the flat areas of the lake seem to be the most successful. Drifting with shrimp around the subimpoundment dams, rip rap areas and in the shallows is what will bring in the channel cats. Fishing for largemouth bass, bluegills and crappies is still slow. The largemouths that are being caught are biting on black buzz bait, pig and jig, large minnows and spinnerbaits around Jackie branch, Gun creek and Route 154. White, pink/green, chartreuse jigs and minnows are working on the crappies in 6 to 10 feet of water around pillars and over Christmas tree sets. The outlet channel below the dam and shallow coves with cover are the places where bluegills are being caught using wax worms.

 

A GROUND POUNDERS GUIDE TO RIVER FISHING

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 honeycombed 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 likes 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, buzz baits 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 snaggy areas.  Bait cast reels are preferable as they contain clickers.  Spooled with a 12-pound line is equivalent to 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

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.

Click here to view the 2017 Hunting Guide

 

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