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Heidecke Lake opener: Very promising prospects across many species; also morels and Stray Cast

Prospects for multiple species are very encouraging for Heidecke Lake, which opens Thursday; and there is a morel note and the Stray Cast.

Heidecke Lake became a packed destination last May as the pandemic closures eased; prospects look good for 2021 at the former cooling lake, which reopens to fishing Thursday. Provided by Pete Riedesel
Heidecke Lake became a packed destination last May as the pandemic closures eased; prospects look good for 2021 at the former cooling lake, which reopens to fishing Thursday.
Provided by Pete Riedesel

There’s much to anticipate for opening day Thursday at Heidecke Lake.

The former cooling lake near Morris certainly has biologist Seth Love excited.

It’s more than walleye, though they should be special.

“Ninety-two percent of the adult Walleye were legal size with 6 percent over 25 inches,” he emailed. “I was absolutely amazed at the number of large walleye.”

There’s more to size up.

“Twelve percent of the adult hybrid striped bass were over 25 inches,” Love emailed. “In fact, all of the fish captured were over 15 inches.”

As to crappie, Love observed, “The largest crappie for both species were around 13 inches. Growth appears to be pretty good for these fish.”

On smallmouth bass, biologist Seth Love emailed, “What a difference from the 2018 collection. There was a 220-percent increase in total catch, and we had the highest catch rate for 20 years. Forty-five percent of the adult fish were over 14 inches and 9 percent were over 17 inches.”

Largemouth bass improved in both catch rate and young-of-the-year collection in the fall survey.

“I think this improvement can be attributed to the 2017 supplemental largemouth bass stocking,” Love emailed. We didn’t collect many 18-inch fish but it’ll be interesting to see if these strong year classes, as they grow, can successfully improve the number of 18-plus inchers. Body condition (plumpness) was excellent for all size groups.”

Size looks good for white bass. “About 38 percent of adult fish were over 12 inches, and 26 percent were over 15 inches,” Love emailed. “The largest caught was 17 inches.”

Love noted bluegill showed an improvement in the proportion 8 inches or longer (biggest nearly 9 inches.) Yellow bass were surveyed to 12 inches. A state record could swim there. Channel catfish remain tough.

Saved muskie for last.

“The largest muskie in our electrofishing survey was 46.7 inches,” Love emailed. “I’m confident there’s a 50-inch fish out there.”

There are no regulation changes. Stocking should be the usual black crappie, walleye and hybrids (muskie will be stocked again in 2022).

Heidecke is open daily 6 a.m. (bank fishing opens 6:30) to sunset.

A boater ducked to get under the bridge on the center dike in May last year at Heidecke Lake, which became a packed destination as pandemic closures eased; prospects look good for 2021 at the former cooling lake, which reopens to fishing Thursday. Credit: Dale Bowman
A boater ducked to get under the bridge on the center dike in May last year at Heidecke Lake, which became a packed destination as pandemic closures eased; prospects look good for 2021 at the former cooling lake, which reopens to fishing Thursday.
Dale Bowman

WILD THINGS

The Facebook group, Illinois Morel Mushrooms, had more grey morels in its progression map Tuesday with the finds primarily in southern Illinois.

STRAY CAST

Match the Chicago team to rainbow trout, coho, flathead catfish, smallmouth bass.