August 8, 2008

Anglers Experiencing Another Great Year’ at Shabbona Lake

By Scott Richardson

SHABBONA - There's nothing shabby about fishing at Shabbona Lake. The 318-acre lake - the only public reservoir built in Illinois specifically for fishing - is hot for several kinds of fish.

"We're having another great year," said Denny Sands, a former sheriff's deputy who co-owns Shabbona Lakeside Bait, Tackle & Boat Rental at the lake located about 80 miles north of Bloomington- Normal off Interstate 39.

Sands said bass fishing has never been better.

"The biggest I've seen weighed 7 pounds, 3 ounces," he said.

The popular bass tactic now is to target shallow weeds with topwater baits such as the Mann's Bigfoot Frog, a soft plastic frog replica, he said.

Walleye fishing also is very good.

"We've had more big walleyes this year than most other years," he said, suggesting a live-bait rig or a jig and a leech.

Good crappie fishing is a surprise at this time of year. They're catching them on minnows about 9 feet down on the lake's ample trees and fish cribs.

Bluegills and catfish are hitting, too. But for anglers who want something bigger, muskies are being caught. None have allowed the lake to reclaim the state record status which it's held several times over the years. But several have reached the 40-inch range. Sands suggested the SS Shad in the area of the reservoir where no gasoline-powered motors are allowed. Shabbona has a 10-horsepower limit.

What's biting

Crappie - Good at Shabbona; fair at Clinton.

Saugeye - Fair at Evergreen, slow at Dawson.

Sauger - Slow on the Illinois River.

Walleye - Fair at Lake Bloomington, Dawson, Clinton, Shelbyville; good at Shabbona.

Largemouth bass - Very good at Clinton, Shelbyville, Shabbona; good at Sangchris; fair at Bloomington, Evergreen, Spring Lake, Weldon Springs.

Smallmouth bass - Fair at Powerton, LaSalle Lake; good at Vermilion River.

Striped bass - Slow everywhere.

White bass - Good on the Illinois River and Shelbyville, but you must be there early or late; fair at Clinton.

Catfish - Very good at Sangchris, Clinton Lake, Shabbona; good at Evergreen, Shelbyville, Illinois River, Powerton, Spring Lake; Weldon Springs, Dawson.

Muskies - Good at Shabbona; slow at Evergreen, and water temperature is in the mid-80s and high enough to risk mortality.

Bluegills - Very good at Sangchris, Dawson, Shabbona; fair to good elsewhere.

Got a fish story, a hot spot, big fish or lots of them? Something funny happen? Phone Pantagraph outdoor editor Scott Richardson at (309) 820-3227 or e-mail [email protected]

(c) 2008 Pantagraph. Provided by ProQuest Information and Learning. All rights Reserved.