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With the gas prices doing nothing more than going up, I was quite surprised that in a recent trip to southern Illinois, gasoline was found to be a few cents under $3.00 a gallon. It felt like a bargain.
But a real bargain would be taking a fishing trip and keeping it affordable in these economic troubling times for travelers. Some trips can cost a lot because of the rising gas costs. That with long drives has and will keep a lot of Chicagoland anglers from taking those road trips like those that they enjoyed in years past.
There is no need to give up those fun vacations and that is thanks to southern Illinois.
It’s said all the time on my TV show, Illinois Outdoors that “Great fishing is not that far away.” Well, it’s true. Sure, many of us have gone long distances in pursuit of fish with quantity and quality. The truth is however that similar fishing can be found right here in Illinois. From Chicago’s south suburbs, it’s only about four hours south on I-57.
I’ve fished many of the lakes in southern Illinois and always want to try a new one. So far I have fished Rend, Lake of Egypt, Hamilton, Cedar, Devil’s Kitchen, Forbes, Crab Orchard and a couple of small ponds. The list can go on and for me, it will.
One thing that I like to do for a start is check with the local tourism bureaus. Two that are very helpful are the Franklin County Tourism Bureau (www.FCTB.com) and the Williamson County Tourism Bureau (www.VisitSI.com). They can help with accommodations, provide you with dining suggestions and for the family members who don’t want to fish, tourism activities in the area. They always have it covered and are very helpful. For me, contacting the visitor bureau is a must. Since fishing and hunting is so popular down south, they have a lot of good information to share and it’s all free. They can even hook you up with fishing and hunting guides.
This time it was suggested that I try Pinckneyville Lake. Now this lake is not in either of the county tourism bureaus that I deal with but is actually in Perry County. This is what’s nice about the tourism bureaus; they’re always willing to help even if it’s outside of their area.
I love this little 200 acre lake because most of the time, no one is fishing there. According to DNR reports, it has a very healthy bass population and there are some real keepers in there. A keeper bass at Pinckneyville Lake is 18 inches with a limit of only one.
I fished with War Eagle spinnerbaits and buzzbaits and literally caught dozens of bass. Most were about 15 and 16 inches long yet I did get our share of those over 18 inches. It’s a great little lake.
The spinnerbaits and buzzbaits were cast near many shorelines. I looked for points that had some wind blowing on them and if there was some wood from downfallen trees; that helped too.
On a couple on occasions I saw shad breaking the surface. This told me that there were gamefish feeding near by. I didn’t rush the area, but slowly worked my way close to the erupting fish and made long casts. At one point I had one on a spinnerbait and the next on a buzzbait. I both caught fish from the edges of the feeding frenzy. The wise thing to do in a situation like this is not to charge the area but sneak up slowly and pick off fish that are on the outside edges of the ambushed shad.
Pinckneyville Lake is found off South Lake Road and Rt. 127, just a bit northwest of the town on Pinckneyville. So if you’re staying at the Rend Lake Resort, the Seasons, or one of the hotels in Marion, for example, the lake is about 25 miles away by driving straight west on Rt. 154 out of the Wayne Fitzgerrell State Park.
This was a good trip. It’s an easy ride to Pinckneyville Lake as it is for many others nearby lakes. So yes, in this case once again, great fishing was not that far away.