Hunting & Fishing
Get the Visitors Guide & More! View Travel Guides



Williamson County is the premier destination for fishermen in Southern Illinois. We attract professional and amateur fishermen alike with our popular lakes, annual fishing tournaments and year-round fishing opportunities. From the well-known 7,000-acre Crab Orchard Lake and 2,300-acre Lake of Egypt to the 30-acre Arrowhead Lake and everything in between, fishermen relish in the abundance of largemouth bass, crappie, bluegill, channel catfish and other popular species being caught here. 

Southern Illinois Fishing Report - May 19th, 2017

Devils’ Kitchen: Bluegills are spawning and are being caught in good numbers on wax worms and crickets.

Crab Orchard Lake: Crappies still are spawning and can be caught over shallow cover on minnows or jigs. Bluegill action is hot on wax worms and crickets. Bluegills have moved in close to the banks. Catfish action is picking up on leeches and shad. Bass are still being caught over shallow cover on a variety of baits.

Carlyle Lake: Crappies and catfish best. Catfish taking cut shad and shad guts off rocks by Keysport. Crappies biting on minnows, jigs, tube jigs by Hazlet State Park. Sauger hit and miss, if they can be found. White bass are said to be hungry for jigs. Bluegill fishing is fair on worms.

Pinckneyville Lake: Largemouth bass have slowed. Bluegills are biting on worms in 6 to 8 feet of water. Fishing for crappies and catfish has been fair.

Kinkaid Lake: Bluegills are on the beds. Fish are being caught in less than two feet of water. Bluegill anglers are taking good numbers of fish on a variety of baits. Bass have been steady on a variety of baits, including spinner baits and soft plastics. Crappies have moved off the spawning beds into 4-6 feet of water on minnows and jigs. Catfish are rated excellent on cut bait and nightcrawlers. Muskie action has been improving during the past two weeks. Casting is the preferred method. Some anglers are taking smallmouth bass.

Lake Murphysboro: Bluegills are the best bet. Bluegills are spawning and can be caught on a variety of baits. Catfish action has been coming on strong the last week. Anglers are taking good numbers of cats on nightcrawlers and cut bait. The crappies have moved off the spawning beds, but can be caught in 4-6 feet of water on minnows and jigs. Bass are being caught in shallow areas on baits ranging from top water to soft plastics

Lake of Egypt: Bass action is fair. Fish are still scattered and are being caught on a variety of baits. Bluegills and redears are on the beds and can be caught on crickets, wax worms and red wigglers. Crappies are still moving in and out of shallow areas. Some fish are being caught in 6-10 feet of water while others are taking crappie in water up to 20 feet deep. Minnows and jigs are both effective. Catfish are fair on a variety of baits.

Little Grassy: Crappies are spawning and can be caught on minnows and jigs in shallow areas. Bluegills and redears are on the beds and are being caught on crickets and worms. Bass are bedding up in shallow areas and can be caught on a variety of baits. Catfish action is still slow.

Rend Lake: Crappies and catfish are still rated excellent. Crappie anglers are catching fish in the brush, or over cover from 6-14 feet deep. Pink/white jigs and minnows are both producing good catches. Catfish are being caught in shallow areas, particularly in Gun Creek. Some anglers are having good success drift fishing. Stinkbaits, shad, cut shad, nightcrawlers and leeches are all effective. Bass are still good over brushy cover and near the bushes on soft plastics, Rat-L-Traps, spinnerbaits and crankbaits.

By Don Gasaway

Illinois is a state of rivers, lakes and reservoirs.  The state boundaries on the south and the west follow the Ohio and Mississippi Rivers.  The interior of the state is honey combed with waterways.  Early settlers used them for food and transportation needs.  Anywhere in the state one is just a short distance from some great ground pounding on a river bank.

Unless you have fished a river recently you have never fished it.  Rivers are ever changing as flooding rearranges the bottom structure.  It rearranges the deep channels and washes in new obstacles to current flow.

Fish can only manage the battle against the current for a short time.  They look for obstacles behind which they can rest out of the current.  They wait there in search of some forage to come to them.  Heavy current or a lack of it usually means no fish.
Spots where the river flows slows and stops temporarily provide fishing opportunities.  That is where the fish are likely to rest.  These include areas such as eddies behind snags, below sandbars, or those sections of the river with a cut in the river bank.
Fish prefer areas where the vegetation or other structure cast shadows on the water.  It might be a tree hanging over the water, a boat dock or in the shadow of old boats or barges abandoned.    Wooden structures are best.
In warm water bass cannot remain active for long periods without undergoing stress.  They are inactive for a while and then feed in short "feeding frenzies."  In cool water of rivers flowing and mixing action of the current oxygenates the water and allows fish to feed for more extended periods.
Water clarity is important to river fishing.  Seldom is water really "clear."  Subtle presentations are poor ideas in clear water.  Big bright, noisy lures seem to work better.  Big bass in rivers like to take advantage of wounded baitfish or unfortunate creatures that fall into the river.  They strike fast and hard in order to beat another fish to them.  For this reason jointed minnow, buzzbaits and occasionally rubber frog lures are effective.
In larger rivers crankbaits and plastic worms are effective.  Work the plastics slowly to keep the slack out of the line and allow the working of the lure over the bottom.  Set the hook when anything unusual happens in the movement of the line.  In the live bait category the ever popular minnow hooked through the back allows a free fish action that attracts predatory fish.
Long medium action rods are best in river situations.  This is especially true in snagy areas.  Bait cast reels are preferable as they contain clickers.  Spooled with 12-pound line or is equivalent in the super lines, these lines can be cast out and allowed to work with the current.
Lakes and impoundments are usually crowded on weekends.  Rivers and creeks can be a refuge from the crowds.

Click here to view our 2017 Fishing Guide


Williamson County has some of the finest game bird, waterfowl, deer, turkey, and small game hunting in the Midwest, thanks to our mix of popular flyways, lakes, hardwood forests, cropland, wetlands, river bottom topography and nearby Shawnee National Forest and Crab Orchard National Wildlife Refuge. Ducks and geese have long been the most popular species to hunt here, and public hunting grounds abound. There are also at least 5 private hunt clubs operating in Williamson County that provide a wide range of services for the optimum waterfowl hunting experience.

Southern Illinois Waterfowl Survey will be found here when waterfowl season approches.

Click here to view the 2017 Hunting Guide


Upcoming Events

View All