Cabin Fever Crappie

  • Crappie Crazy
  • February 23, 2018 8:46 am
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Cabin Fever Crappie

When cold temperatures, snow and ice, take hold of our Central and Northern States, many Crappie Anglers get the dreaded “Cabin Fever.” The time when ice forms on the water, not thick enough to walk on and to dangerous to take a boat out in. This soon becomes “Cabin Fever.” One location that does not ice up, even in the coldest of Winter months, is located in the heart of our Country, Lake of Egypt, Illinois.

“Sean Hawkins, Guide and Owner of Crappie Addiction Guide Service in Southern Illinois.”

Lake of Egypt is is owned by the Southern Illinois Power Cooperative (SIPC), who created the impoundment in 1962, by damming the South fork of the Saline river, to supply cooling water for a coal-burning electric power plant. It is located six miles south of Marion, Illinois and covers 2,300 acres with 90 miles of shoreline. The lake has an average depth of 18 feet with a maximum depth of 52 feet. The unique item to mention and what makes the entire lake a “Cabin Fever” buster is the power plant water discharge. The water is discharged back into the lake and on average warms the upper end of the lake to a average temperature of 50 degrees.

We decided to break our “Cabin Fever” and head to Lake of Egypt in February. During our first morning, temperatures were several degrees below freezing and ice greeted us on the roads and at the boat ramp. The wind chill was in the teens! We met up with local Guide Sean Hawkins, Owner of Crappie Addiction Guide Service. Sean lives on Lake of Egypt and has been a Guide on the lake for several years. 

Once in the boat, Sean began to explain how the power plant plays a vital role in fish activities on Lake of Egypt. The water discharge is everything in the colder months of the year, the heart of the lake. Most fish will migrate to the upper end of the lake during the Winter months in search of warmer water temperatures, which the power plant discharge provides. Fishing is usually great while the discharge is operational. Note, while the discharge is operational. Shortly before we arrived the power plant stopped producing electric for the day and the discharge was shut off. Just our luck. Now what happens?

Sean then explained, “Most cold fronts do not affect the fish or the fishing. But, when the discharge is shut off, it acts as a cold front for these fish. The fish will stop biting for the most part and they will scatter and roam the lake in search of warmer water. 

“Sean points out several schools of roaming Crappie that would sometimes number in the hundreds!”

We idled around the upper end of the lake within site of the power plant searching for fish with Sean’s Humminbird Helix 10 and 360 imaging. Fish were everywhere. But, one minute they were there and the next, they would be gone. Why? They were in search of warmer water. 

Sean noted the fishing would not be good this morning, but the afternoon bite would be on fire due to the fish swimming around looking for warmer water and exerting energy. Just as you and I would get hungry after activity, so would the fish.

Our morning fishing produced 5 Black Crappie by Sean and I hooked 2 that got off before I could get them in the boat. We decided to leave for lunch and come back for the evening bite.

After lunch, Sean and I were back on the water by 2:30 pm. Sean turned his Humminbird Spot-Lock anchor on, off of a main lake point and we began to cast toward the shoreline. Sean’s technique of choice is the cork and jig. It consists of a stationary float/bobber, a 1/16 oz. jighead and a Bobby Garland Baby Shad. Sean would cast it as far as possible, let it sit for 10 seconds, reel and pop the float several times while retrieving, stop and let the bait sit for another 10 seconds, repeat. This is a deadly technique for these Crappie! We soon began to reel in Big Black Crappie, cast after cast! It’s important to note that other boats/anglers in the area, were catching 1-2 Crappie, while Sean and I were catching 12-15 in the same time frame. We soon would end the day with over 90+ Black Crappie and keeping a one man limit of 30. The best Crappie of the day was in the weight range of 1.60 lbs. – 1.70 lbs.

“Big Crappie over 2 lbs. are not uncommon on Lake of Egypt, Illinois.”

Day two started just like day number one ended, on fire! Sean’s first cast resulted in a Black Crappie and it didn’t stop there. We moved from point to point, fishing and catching fish until the bite would slow down and we would then move again. Due to my schedule, I left Sean at noon to travel. But, we had already boated over 100+ Black Crappie by noon, with a couple of bigger fish, than day number one. They ranged from 1.75 lbs. to 1.85 lbs. All were released for another day!

If you have “Cabin Fever” and are looking for a great fishing trip with a professional, friendly and knowledgeable Guide give Sean Hawkins a call. You will not be disappointed. 361-652-9449

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