A year round favorite for walleyes, crappies and musky is Shabbona Lake. During the ice season, it’s primarily considered a panfish lake, but if you look around to see what other ice anglers are doing, you’ll find that some many other species of fish are being caught.
With safe ice on Shabbona Lake, located just off Rt. 30 and the Town of Shabbona in DeKalb County fishing can be very good at this picturesque lake.
The lake has a variety of structure that you can fish in the flooded wooded area, around the fish cribs or by the road bed. A lot of anglers love to fish by the flooded tree line straight out into the lake from the concession stand.
Some of the fish that have been caught through the ice in years past include the crappies, walleyes and muskies too. But there are a lot of other species that can be and have been caught through the ice. Catfish for example is one fish that have been caught along the tree line with not only good numbers, but some pretty respectable sizes too. I’ve seen an angler catch and eight pound catfish through the ice there once.
Bass have been caught thorough the ice by anglers using minnows on tip ups. Many ice holes can be found out from just about every point on this lake. The reason being is because there are a lot of cribs in this lake. Big fish will frequent these areas because they prey on the smaller panfish and bait fish that use the artificial cribs for cover.
If you have ever wondered if in fact fish relate to artificial structure in a lake, check out the Shabbona Lake website, www.ShabbonaLake.com. Visit their Underwater Photo Page and check out the photos. You’ll see some very impressive crappy, bluegill and musky photos. Viewing these photos will leave you with no doubt in your mind that fishing the cribs works well in attracting fish.
There’s something else you’ll see in the photo section of this site. That is rock piles. In years past, Shabbona Lake has sponsored what they called Rock Fest. This is where donated chunk rock is placed in the lake for fish to relate to. Volunteers come out for the festivities that are included with the delivery of the rock from shore to the rock pile locations. You’ll see in the photo array that a lot of nice fish relate to these rocks as well.
Again, if you visit the Shabbona Lake website, you’ll find that they have a map page. You can visit that page and see where the rock piles are located as well as some of the other structure in the lake. So, for now, let’s get back to ice fishing.
First time anglers at the lake looking for a spot to fish can do the obvious thing. Look for other anglers on the ice. There’s no doubt about it that the ice anglers will be where the fish are located. But if you wish to venture out a bit on your own, then look for ice holes that have frozen over. If you find a lot of holes, there is the possibility that someone was there and did well once before.
Probably the best thing to do is to stop in at a local bait shop for some up to date information. There a few shops on Rt. 30 as you go into Shabbona. Where ever you stop, ask what’s going on at the lake. Find out what the people out there are using. If they tell you that the crappies are on and the walleyes are off, adjust your plans and fish for crappies. Walleye fishing should not necessarily be crossed off the list, but make your efforts there secondary. Time on the water (or ice) is precious and we want to make the best of it when we’re out there.
Some things that may increase your odds when fishing at Shabbona Lake is obviously looking for the right spot. But you can go one step further and do a little better. Light penetration is a big thing a Shabbona as well as many other lakes. If the spot you want to fish has some snow cover, great! If the snow is drifted and spread about the area, try selecting a spot that has snow cover. If the snow is too far away, try bringing some of it with a shovel to you fishing spot.
Some anglers have picked up an old throw rug at a garage sale and cut a small hole in the center of it. The rug acts a good cover over the ice. Look at it this way, a big shadow over the water will attract fish and keep your image that will be moving about from spooking the fish below the ice.
Ice fishing is fun and Shabbona Lake is a great place to go. The lake offers a great variety of fish with a lot of structure that concentrates the locations where fish can be found. Give Shabbona a try and you will surely see that great fishing is not that far away.