The Illinois Department of Natural Resources has released the results of the 2008 Fishing Prospects. This information is compiled by the IDNR fisheries biologist for Rend Lake. Largemouth Bass good The size structure of the Rend Lake bass population should remain relatively unchanged in the coming year. After improving steadily for five consecutive years, the Rend Lake bass population appears to show signs of stabilizing. A decline in the Rend Lake bass population in recent years was linked in part to poor recruitment. To address this concern, over 294,000 bass fingerlings have been stocked in the last six years. These fish have had a significant impact on the density and size structure of the population, and population indices have improved significantly. Data from the most recent population survey show all population indices met the target goals, and the condition of all sizes of fish is excellent (Wr 99). Fishing should remain good in the coming year. The number of fish exceeding the 14" minimum length limit declined slightly over the previous year, but still comprised 41% of the adult bass population. The number of larger fish (16-20) improved slightly (up 10% from the previous year), and the number of bass over 20" in length remained stable. Bass numbers remain strong, and growth rates continue to be good. Maintaining a steady flow of smaller fish into the population through supplemental stocking combined with forage base enhancement has helped to improve and stabilize the size structure of the population. Tournament permits are available at Wayne Fitzgerrell State Park, 618/629-2320.Crappie very good to excellent The crappie population remains in very good condition. In an effort to improve the size structure of the population, length and creel regulations were enacted in 2002. In the 5+ years since the regulations went into effect, the crappie population has shown significant improvement. Data from the 2007 population survey showed little change in the size structure of the population. Over 36 percent of the adult crappie are greater than 10 inches in length and the number of fish exceeding 12" in length remains at a 10 year high. For 2008, crappie 10"-14" in length and averaging 1/2 to 1 pound will be abundant, and should provide excellent angling opportunities. Crappie 8- 10 are also abundant and should contribute to the creel. Crappie reproduction has also been excellent over the last few years, and 2007 was no exception. If growth rates and recruitment remain stable, this fishery should continue to provide very good fishing for several years to come. Regulations will remain unchanged next season, with a daily creel limit of 25 white, black, or hybrid crappie (singly or collectively) of which no more than 10 may be 10" or longer in length. White Bass fair The white bass fishery showed signs of improvement in 2007 and this trend should continue in 2008. The number of fish collected in the fall 2007 electrofishing survey increased for the second consecutive year, and the population, although still below optimal, should provide relatively good fishing in the immediate future. However, this improvement may be short lived. Recruitment appears poor for the second year in a row, and this will likely cause a decline in the fishery in the near future. Most of the fishery in 2008 will be comprised of fish from the 2002 and 2005 year classes. These fish will range from 14" - 20" in length and weigh from 0.5 to 1.5 pounds. Hybrid Striped Bass poor The number of hybrid striped bass continues to decline. To improve the status of this fishery, 1,300 fingerlings were stocked in October 2003, 450 eight-inch fish were stocked in September 2004, and 1,650 ten-inch were stocked in 2005. However, this was not enough fish to significantly improve the population, and due to lack of availability, no additional stocking is planned at this time. Future improvements in the fishery are contingent on supplemental stocking. Most hybrids should be in the 2 - 8 lb. range. Channel Catfish / Flathead Catfish excellent The fishing prospects for channel catfish will continue to be excellent in the coming year. Natural reproduction and recruitment continue to be very strong, and are responsible for maintaining the large population of fish in the lake. Data from the 2007 population survey show catch rates for channels remain well above the 10 year average. Channel catfish from 1 - 2.5 lbs are abundant, and larger fish up to 7 lbs are common. The condition of these fish has improved and growth rates remain good. If you enjoy fishing for channel catfish, this lake should be on your list of places to fish in 2008. The numbers and size structure of the flathead catfish population remain stable, and should also provide good fishing in the coming year. Catch rates from the annual population survey were exactly at the 10 year average. Reproduction and recruitment success was excellent for flathheads in 2005 and 2006, and this should help to improve fishing in the coming years. Most flathead catfish will range up to 20 lbs. with a few larger fish. Bluegill fair The size structure of the bluegill population declined slightly in 2007, but remains relatively stable. Bluegill should be abundant, but most keepers will be 6"- 7" fish averaging 1/4 lb or less. Relatively few fish will exceed 8". The number of larger fish remains below optimal, but condition and growth rates for fish less than six inches in length remains excellent. If these smaller fish continue to do well in the coming year the size structure of the population may improve.