A Crappie Day On McLeansboro City Lake

Mcleansboro City Lake Fishing

My Hot Streak Continued Crappie Fishing McLeansboro City Lake!

I recall little snippets of fishing with my family at local reservoirs back before I reached the age of ten.  On some weekends dad would take us around because he knew it’s what I loved to do.  On one such occasion we went to the McLeansboro City Lake.  I don’t think we had much success but I specifically remember looking under the boat dock and seeing a large bluegill suspended just under the surface.  Somehow I remember getting my arm twisted into a position to where I could drop a line in on top of the fish.  What happened next is still burnt into my mind as I watched him go down and attack my bait and me struggling to lift him through the small hole in the dock!

I had read up on the IDNR website stating that catfish was the best bet here and Crappie were listed fair at best.  Not being one to back down from a challenge I loaded up my kayak and made the thirty minute drive over just west of the small town.  The lake was just as I remembered it.

Launching My Kayak to Pursue A Mess Of Crappie.

Launching was a breeze as the boat ramp seemed to be in really good shape with a nice slow slope making it easy to pull my kayak out of the back of my truck and gently sat it atop the water.  I pulled around to the nice parking lot which looked to be a really well kept up and safe place to leave your vehicle out of view.  I decided to start working my way down the St. Route 14 roadway and circle the lake around the dam before making my way into the main lake pocket.

Being still a summer pattern I went back to my dependable trolling pattern. I would set two Shelton’s Curly Tail Jigs (each 1/16oz) on my left pole and then a 1/8oz hand tied jig on my right.  Then depending on lake depth I would back peddle to bring the baits up off the bottom and tour the lake.  This presentation provides great exercise and consistent catches!

McLeansboro Lake Came To Life Quickly

I made it half way down the road when my Curly Tail pole bent over violently.  Upon hook set it was obvious that it wasn’t a Crappie but rather a large Catfish.  I battled it for less than 30 seconds with no drag set and 4lbs test ole whiskers got the best of me and kept my jigs for a souvenir.  Oh well I thought to myself.  The one downfall of this presentation is that you want no drag whatsoever.  While retying my curly tails I reached the end of the road when my other pole almost doubled over….Another Cat!  At first the size of the fish was disguised because it hadn’t realized it was hook.  The water was shallow as he ran up to the surface.  I was able to see the tail and knew it had to be close to ten pounds!  Unfortunately I got caught up in the moment and another jig was lost as soon as he realized I had him.

I licked my early wounds and proceeded down the east side of the lake towards the dam.  Here you will find a lot of lay downs but not particularly the depth I was looking for.  I went all the way down around the dam and even fished the old pump house without so much as a nibble.  I can’t lie, I thought that this was going to turn into a bust. 

Once I began my journey around the west side of the lake another cat grabbed a hold.  This time I had tied on another Shelton’s Curly Tail in Lime (1/8oz) on my right pole.  As soon as I hooked him I began loosening my drag not getting so much as 3 full turns in before the fish snapped my line with no effort. 

The Crappie Would Be Right Around The Corner.

With my morale reaching it’s lowest point I made my way across the area of the lake with several main lake points.  I dipped my jig down to find a nice six foot ditch running right down the middle.  I knew if I was going to find Crappie this would be my opportunity as they will usually hang out off of drop offs waiting for the low light hours of the day to come in and feed. 

Catching Crappie Christopher IL. Reservoir
Crappie Fishing Mcleansboro City Lake

Crossing my first point my left pole doubled over and after reeling him in I had my first Crappie.  Next point, same result!  I circled out in the middle until I had my twelve needed to make a nice meal for my fiancé and dogs.  While the size of the fish weren’t so impressive I was able to get enough for a good meal.  This was another example of how hard you have to work to find fish when you have no knowledge of the topography and no graphs.

The Lake Has Potential If Residents Came Together

One of the things that has to preached is that a lake with a stunted Crappie population can be turned around.  If anglers would harvest the Crappie caught it would allow for growth instead of crowding out.  For all of their amazing qualities Crappie can over run a lake very quickly.  If there aren’t enough predators around then the only other two options are to either thin the heard or increase the food supply.  I do look forward to coming back in the spring to try out the Bluegill next year.  Thanks for the great memories!

Blackout Bait and Tackle is one of the largest carriers of Shelton’s Curly Tails.  They reside in Crossville about 20 miles East of the lake.  Stop in and see them for your fishing needs!  Today’s best two colors were Lime and Lime Glitter.


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