Illinois lake smallies well-stocked year-round
Story by Kevin Wright
Late in the 1980's the lake was stocked with smallmouth bass. Not really knowing how they would fare in this engineered lake, researchers were skeptical about the outcome. However, to everyone's surprise the smallies took to the lake. With an ample supply of bait fish in the water the smallies grew -- and grew fast. In just a few short years fish were in the 2-pound range. Today the fish are averaging in the 3-pound range, with 4-pounders common and fish up to 5 pounds being caught. The Illinois record now sits at just over 6 1/2 pounds and many will tell you that the next state smallmouth record will come from this lake.
There are a host of baits and lures that will catch these feisty fish. Anything that resembles a bait fish -- crawdad, leech or other swimming critter -- will boat you a few fish. Anywhere on the 1400-acre lake is open for smallies, and with the rocky shoreline, bank anglers also do well. The best months for smallies are March, April and early June.
Plant discharge area inviting to winter fish
Winter fishing is also popular with anglers. The intake and discharge area is a hotspot for white bass in the cold winter months. The intake area is some distance from the parking lot of the lake, so many anglers take along a bike and wagon-like contraption for hauling equipment. January and February are favorite times for these fish, so keep in mind the need for warm clothes. Jigs and small spinners are favorite baits during the winter.
Powerton is also noted for good catfishing, which can occur through the entire year. Channel cats and flatheads lurk throughout the lake. Dip baits and cut baits are popular. The big lake is ripe for cats in warm weather, while the intake area is good during the winter months.
While many anglers use the standard baits for cats -- worms, chicken liver, dough baits – you can add something else to your arsenal. Grasshoppers are common throughout the grassy areas that line the banks. Many of these little creatures fall into the lake and are wonderful catfish bait. In fact, you might just catch a smallmouth or two, as well!
While smallies and catfish are the most sought after, there is also good fishing for many other species. Bluegill, crappie, carp, bullheads, largemouth bass and hybrid sunfish are all available to the angler. Walleye, too.
Powerton is a wide-open lake, so when the wind blows, you’ll know it. A wind warning light sits on the lake to notify anglers to get off the lake. Even on those not-so-windy days the water can become rough. Use extreme caution when the wind blows.
Powerton is always popular with anglers, and available most of the year. The lake is closed to fishing during the duck season, while open for hunting. It re-opens to bank anglers in late-December and then to boat anglers sometime in mid-February. There are set hours for fishing, depending on the time of year. Hours generally run from about 6 a.m. to sunset in the summer and 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. during the winter months.
If you’re interested in catching a record Illinois smallmouth, then Powerton Lake is the place for you. The fishing just keeps getting better and better, so plan a trip for this summer -- you just might become a record holder. Great adventures to you! - Story by Kevin Wright
Tips and Articles
Swift tidal currents demand line, lure adaptation
Understanding bass: Why they strike artificials
Pacific specifics: Yo-yoing for yellowtail
Be species specific for angling success
Choosing the right rod
Bluefish are red-hot in Rhode Island
Bream on the beds
Fishing the shadows for snook
The sweet or salty Northeast nirvana
Apache Lake fishing adventure
A bream by any other name
Live bait lures tarpon
Nighttime bridge fishing for tarpon
Eyes in the sky
Temperate bass aren't so temperate
Lights, camera, catch: Video action
Follow the bluefish migration
Fishing at Powell is angling heaven
Protect and Preserve
Downriggers for accuracy