Thursday, March 17, 2016

Top Fishing Destinations in Illinois: Lake Shelbyville

Top Fishing Destinations in Illinois: Lake Shelbyville

At 11,000 acres, Lake Shelbyville is one of Illinois' premier fishing destinations, offering a variety of shore fishing access points and opportunities for camping. It's most recognized for its largemouth bass, crappie, white bass, muskie and walleye opportunities. Anglers should be aware of special length limits for walleye, largemouth bass, muskie and crappie. Consult visitor centers for the special creel restrictions, which are also posted at most public access sites. Boaters should watch for buoys placed near beaches, bridges, marinas and in some coves. The buoys indicate no boats, no wakes or other navigational information. In addition, green and red navigation buoys have been placed from the Highway 32 bridge to the "Bo" Wood Access to aid deep-draft sailboats.

Walleye and white bass make spring spawning runs up the Kaskaskia River, and have been documented 25 miles north to the Highway 36 bridge. It is believed a white bass run occurs up the West Okaw River, but the extent of the movement has not been studied.

Interestingly, biologists have stocked Shelbyville with walleye from many states to try to obtain genetic qualities suitable for this water. The effort has included river and lake strains from hatcheries in Illinois, Iowa, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Michigan, South Dakota, Kansas, Kentucky and New York. Fingerling and fry stocking typically occurs annually. A rearing pond was constructed and another is planned to raise walleye to a larger size before stocking.

Interactive Lake Map

To find a detailed lake map and real-time fishing reports follow the Lake Shelbyville waterway page on Fishidy.

Here are some tips for locating and catching fish on Lake Shelbyville:

For largemouth bass from early April to mid-June, concentrate on riprapped areas, flooded willows and shallow stumps or deadfalls in less than 5 feet. If high water conditions are present, look to flooded willows for great action, but don't overlook the riprapped sections either. White, chartreuse and other light-colored spinnerbaits with nickel, copper or painted blades are popular lure choices.

Walleye spawning runs occur from mid-March to mid-April in the Kaskaskia River and to a lesser degree, the West Okaw River. These fish often associate with sharp channel bends or "neck down" areas. Live bait rigs, including bottom bouncers, Lindy and Roach Rigs, or 1/8- to 1/4-oz. fluorescent jigs tipped with minnows, are favorites of local experts.

Summer crappie relate to riprap or standing timber where adjacent depths are more than 15 feet. These fish move back into the shallows again in fall and winter. An effective technique is to "dabble" or "tightline" minnows with a long bamboo or fiberglass pole, dropping the bait near likely wood cover.

The West Okaw and Kaskaskia rivers produce the best catfish angling north of their confluence. From May through October, concentrate on flats near the channel. Prepared stink baits, minnows, crawlers, shrimp, liver and cut shad all produce. Keep the sinker weight to a minimum. One to three medium split shot usually are enough.

Lake Shelbyville has a white bass spawning run up both rivers from late March to May. A minnow and split shot rig drifted with the current is productive. White bass are found on shallow flats near willows from May to mid-July, feeding on the first hatch of shad.

Fishidy is the premier, map-based social network that gives anglers the ability to track their on-the-water experiences and view detailed fishing maps on thousands of the most popular fishing destinations across the U.S.

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