Warm weather May 8-11 turned on the catfish bite, says Darrell “Buster” Culjan, who runs Cajun’s tackle shop on the south side of Utica.
However, rain and the cool-down this week raised the Illinois River, making some fishing spots (such as the shoreline along Dee Bennett Road) difficult to access from the banks and making it tougher to catch predator fish on minnows and lures. Culjan expects to see a lot of fishermen and families angling from the banks of Starved Rock State Park during the weekend.
“With the river up in the trees and dirty, it’s drum and catfish on night crawlers,” Culjan said.
Any time there’s a heavy rain, the night crawlers get washed into the creeks and into the river, so worms always are a good bet for bait.
He said the cool-down should slow the fishing at some of the farm ponds and small lakes and impoundments. Crappie and bass action had been hot on the farm ponds, with bluegill fishing improving.
At Evergreen Lake northwest of Normal, the crappie have been spawning and caught in the shallows, a customer told Culjan on Thursday over the lunch hour. The day before, an angler told Culjan he caught his limit at Evergreen, but the water was stained a bit from the rain.
He said he hadn’t heard recent reports from cooling lakes such asLa SalleLakeor Heidecke.
At Time on the Water Outdoors in Spring Valley, “Flic” Sobkowiak said anglers were catching a lot of stripers and sauger until the torrential rain early in the week stirred up the river.
Sobkowiak said catfish anglers have been looking for stink bait, shad and whatever else might work for the first catfish tournament of the year, which starts at 6 a.m. Sunday.
Canal anglers have been catching crappie, and crappie fishing has been good at the lakes such as Evergreen, Bloomington and Dawson. He’s also hearing great reports from groups coming back from fishing trips for bluegill and crappie at Olney East Fork in southern Illinois.
Hennepin Canal angler Sheryl Liss of La Salle reported some good luck fishing for bass there last weekend, and hooking but losing a monster largemouth. She’s not saying where exactly she lost that one, other than she it swam out to the middle of the canal “like a shark,” but said did reveal she was using a diving Rapala.