CARLYLE LAKE FISHING PROSPECTS FOR 2008 Carlyle Lake, Carlyle, Illinois, January 29, 2008 Carlyle Lake often provides excellent fishing opportunities for many species, but you dont have to wait until the warmth of spring to take advantage of them. The winter months can offer exciting fishing, especially for crappie and sauger. Anglers are catching limits of crappie in the lake and sauger in the Kaskaskia River below the spillway. The most popular baits for crappie are tube jigs and minnows fished in 6-10 ft water depths. Sauger fishermen find success with curly tail jigs and minnows fished off the bottom of the Kaskaskia River. In the fall of 2007, the Illinois Department of Natural Resources Fisheries Division conducted the annual fall survey of Carlyle Lake, resulting in a positive outlook for the 2008 fishing season: White Bass - very good to excellent - Due to successful spawns and recruitment over the last three years, numbers of white bass were extremely high in 2007, and fishing was reported as being excellent for this species. We collected 134 fish/hour, a 49% increase in numbers compared to 2006, and the highest number recorded this decade. Fish were extremely abundant from 7.5 to 13 inches in length. White bass had an average weight of 0.6 lbs and 29% of the stock was 12 inches or greater in length. The largest fish observed weighed 1.9 lbs and was 16" in length. The only concern with the population is the condition of the fish which was marginal. The gizzard shad grew so fast in 2007 that by late September most were too large for white bass to eat, which meant rather thin white bass. The exception to this was the young of the year white bass which were in excellent condition. If a reasonable percentage of white bass survive the winter of 2007, we should see very good to excellent fishing in 2008. Average size should be around 0.6 lbs and 11 inches in length. Crappie - very good to excellent - Anglers reported excellent fishing for crappie in 2007. Black crappie have dominated the fishery for three years, while white crappie have declined over the same period to negligible numbers. Our survey showed that the black crappie population is still one of high quality, with 50% of the stock being 10" or greater in length. Numbers of fish are still relatively high, and there are two strong year classes of fish from 2005 and 2006 that should provide good fishing in 2008. Black crappie had an average weight of 0.37 lbs and 9" in length, with legal fish (10" minimum length limit) at 0.72 lbs and 10.6 to 11 inches in length. The largest crappie observed weighed 0.9 lbs and was 11" in length. Condition of the fish was excellent. Expect spring 2008 crappie fishing to be pretty exiting. Catfish - very good to excellent - The channel catfish population looks pretty good. Our survey showed fish ranging in weight from 2.44 lbs to 8.58 lbs. The average cat weighed 3.5 lbs. We saw a greater percentage of larger channel catfish during this survey. In fact, 18% of the stock was 24" or greater in length. Condition of these fish was good, but could be better. The flathead catfish population is excellent. We saw an estimated 16 different year classes of flatheads, from young of the year up to 30 lb fish and everything in between. The average flathead weighed 6.2 lbs. Twenty-one % of the stock was 28" or greater in length, and condition was excellent. Numbers of fish are high, and flathead reproduction and recruitment in Carlyle Lake continues to be nothing short of amazing. Largemouth Bass - fair to good - The bass population remains relatively unchanged from previous years. Bass collected during our survey in 2007 had an average weight of 1.5 lbs and a length of 14". The average weight of legal bass (14" minimum length limit) was 2.9 lbs and 17" in length. The largest bass observed was 5.1 lbs, although we have collected bass in the 6 to 7 lb weight range in previous years. Twenty-five percent fewer bass were taken in our survey compared to 2006, but the percentage of larger bass (18" or greater) was slightly higher at 9% of the stock. Condition of the bass was superb, very robust fish. Bass fishing in 2008 should be similar to that of 2007. Sauger - fair to good - Numbers of sauger collected during our 2007 survey were down from 2006, but higher than the 7 year average. The average fish weighed 0.83 lbs, with the average legal fish (14 inch minimum length limit) at 1.7 lbs and 16" in length. The largest fish observed weighed 2.09 lbs and was 18.5 inches in length. Condition of the sauger population overall was slightly lower than desired, but not bad. The spillway offers the best fishing for this species since the concentration of sauger is very dense there. Fishing for this species will be fair in the lake and good at the spillway. Bluegill - fair - The bluegill population remains fair, relatively unchanged from past years. Bluegill overall had an average weight of 0.18 lbs. Six inch fish, which are common, had an average weight of 0.23 lbs, and 7" fish, which occur in lesser numbers averaged 0.32 lbs. Numbers of bluegill are lower than desired, but condition is excellent, however. Look for the larger breeders in the spring, May is usually the best month for this species.