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How To Catch Crappie In Illinois

There is certainly no shortage of good Illinois crappie fishing locations, especially in the spring. The state is littered with lakes and rivers where bites are frequent and slabs are quite large. No matter where in the state you live or are traveling, you are within a few miles of great crappie fishing. Beginning in late February and continuing through spring and summer, you’ll find the peak of Illinois crappie fishing season.

Start with the Mazonia State Fish and Wildlife Area, where there are over 250 lakes ranging in size from an acre to about 50 acres. Here, you’ll find some average sized crappie of about 8-9 inches in length. The best part of the season in these lakes is generally between March and May, concentrating strongly on shoreline areas covered in grass, beaver lodges, and fallen trees that create cover for the crappie. If you visit the “back lakes” of the area that must be accessed by foot, you could be rewarded with 14-16-inch crappie.

Another viable option for Illinois crappie fishing is Evergreen Lake, a full 886 acres just north of Bloomington in central Illinois. Some avid anglers claim that fishing in this lake regularly yields 10-12-inch crappie and up to 40 or more black crappie per hour, as well as 55 white crappie per hour. At these excellent fishing odds, most fishermen go home with their 25-fish limit for the day with no hassle whatsoever. Try fishing the coves of the lake, with jigs and minnows being the number one baits of choice.

While not producing such high quantities, Illinois crappie fishing at Sangchris Lake does yield some of the largest sunfish in the state, averaging 12-15 inches in length. There is a nursery pond onsite where around 70,000 fish are bred and stocked annually that boosts the population for a good catch. Take advantage of the large slabs in February, March, and April, when crappie are easily found in shallow cover and are prone to staying in shallow environments for spawning. Minnows work well here, as do jigs, but keep in mind that Sangchris enforces a 10-inch minimum size and 10-fish per day limit on your catch.

Illinois crappie fishing is at its best in Carlyle Lake, with its extensive 26,000 acres, in spring. Carlyle maintains a 10-inch minimum for your catch, and you’ll find no shortage of keepers, with regular anglers claiming about 80% of the catch being of retainable size. The Allen Branch of the lake is full of stumps and good cover for crappie, making it a choice location for Illinois crappie fishing, though Coles Creek and the West Access area are also popular.

Dan Eggertsen is a fishing researcher and enthusiast who is commited to providing the best crappie fishing information possible. Get more information on Illinois crappie fishing here: