Panfishing On The Old City Lake In West Frankfort Illinois

West Frankfort IL Old City Lake

Spending An Evening Panfishing On The Old City Lake In West Frankfort Illinois

After a week of flash flooding and cooler than average temperatures Shelby and I had developed a bit of cabin fever and decided to spend a dry evening panfishing on The Old City Lake in West Frankfort Illinois.

.  As we were loading the Kayaks, I asked her if she wanted to try to catch some Bluegill and Red Ear on beds.  The lake is well known for it’s catfish, crappie, and a pretty decent bass every once in awhile but my grandfather and I had fished this reservoir in the spring when the Bluegill and Red Ear would move up to spawn.  We would always fill a fish basket with decent plate sized Bluegill and a couple of Red Ear per trip!

A brief History of the Old City Lake in West Frankfort IL.

The “West Frankfort Reservoir” served the city of West Frankfort beginning in 1926.  After the great coal boom the population increased to such a size that the lake could no longer be depended on.  One year the lake was actually drained to the bottom which lead to the development of the West Frankfort New City Lake in 1949.

After wrapping around backroads around the old mines you will run into a nice little secluded lake, that once was a campground.  There is boat access from a small boat ramp and boat dock just off of the dam.  The lake rules and restrictions are posted on a sign right before you get to the ramp so that there is no confusion to the law.

One of the neat features are the abundance of duck blinds that scatter around the shore providing great cover for Crappie and Bass. A 4lbs Crappie was actually pulled in a few years back but since then unfortunately the Crappie population has exploded creating an over population. The water is also quite shallow from silt over the decades so be careful if you run a gas powered motor in most areas.

Fishing for Bluegill on the Old City Lake in West Frankfort.

Shelby and I launched our Kayaks about two and a half hours before dark.  The first thing I noticed is something I hadn’t heard in years.  The spillway was gushing over the dam due to the recent floods.  I had never seen the lake this high since I’d been coming here.  While paddling we tied on our Phyllis Bluegill Bug in Appleseed/Blue on a 1/16oz Bug Head and fished about a foot under a bobber.

To locate the last remaining beds on the lake she and I began fishing pockets.  I would drift down one end while she took the other.  It didn’t take long!  I found my first bedded Bluegill in the back corner under a leaning willow tree.  Even though we weren’t keeping fish tonight we would have easily been able to make a meal out of these.  After the bed was fished out Shelby caught a couple of very small crappie that seemed to be in post spawn mode.  The longer we fished the more down I got after seeing how far the crappie size had fallen due to over population.  We ended up catching close to 30 and only one or two could even be filleted. 

Bluegill Fishing the Old City Lake West Frankfort IL
Bluegill Fishing the Old City Lake West Frankfort IL

As the sun started to get behind the skyline the action really picked up from the Bluegill.  It seemed as though even the post spawn Bluegill had come out of the channel and up to feed!  It actually got to the point where if you’d miss one on your cast you could just leave your bait right there and another would be by soon to bend your pole over.  

I did manage to catch three Red Ear on consecutive casts.  The first two being females, and then one very large male.  Dark came quickly so we paddled down parallel to the dam making our way toward a grandfather and grandson fishing off the boat ramp.  This always hits close to home with me.  I had asked them if they had caught anything but only “a few misses” were replied.  As I beached the kayak I walked over to the little guy and asked him if he wanted to reel in a couple of fish if I hooked them.  He excitedly agreed.  On back to back casts I hooked into a couple of the small crappie and he got to reel in his catch.  His grandfather had to put an end to it as he had to go home and get a couple hours of sleep before his third shift at a coal mine an hour north of here was set to begin.  

I’m just grateful to see grandfathers out there still passing on this tradition, and I hope it becomes more common again!

If you’re looking for a local bait shop to purchase The Phyllis Bluegill Bug look no further than Zeigler Outdoor Feed And Supply!

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