Opening day snapshot: LaSalle Lake opener and prospects for the year; plus Stray Cast and Go & Show

A snapshot of opening morning at LaSalle Lake and the fishing prospects for the coming year; plus the Stray Cast and the Go & Show.

SHARE Opening day snapshot: LaSalle Lake opener and prospects for the year; plus Stray Cast and Go & Show
An angler on an e-bike drives out on the shore of LaSalle Lake on opening day Tuesday. Credit: Dale Bowman

An angler on an e-bike drives out on the shore of LaSalle Lake on opening day Tuesday.

Dale Bowman

MARSEILLES, Ill.—Tom Le buzzed by at dawn on his Ninebot electric scooter. Of all the contraptions I’ve seen at LaSalle Lake, that was a first.

LaSalle, the cooling lake south of Seneca, reopened Tuesday.

Other notables were how many e-bikes, mostly by the Southeast Corner Bike Crew, passed as I walked out.

Cooling lakes evolve over time, so do anglers fishing them.

On my way in, I chatted with Le, who drove his Ninebot for the first time at LaSalle.

“Drive slowly now,” he said. “I’m 50. You’re older than me. You need to be careful.”

I earned that.

Tom Le’s Ninebot electric scooter in the southeast corner of LaSalle Lake on opening day Tuesday. Credit: Dale Bowman

Tom Le’s Ninebot electric scooter in the southeast corner of LaSalle Lake on opening day Tuesday.

Dale Bowman

Cooling lakes have a little Lazarus, that miracle of coming back.

A significant fish kill hit LaSalle in 2020, yet the fall fish survey last year showed how quickly cooling lakes rebound. At LaSalle, that’s especially true for blue catfish, LaSalle’s glamor big fish.

“Blues are looking significantly better,” district fisheries biologist David Wyffels said. “Fall samples showed good increase in fish of 20-30 inches and fish 30-35 inches showed back. 2020 was not good, lots of fish were in the 12-20 range. We are starting to see populations much more like previous samples, previous years; probably looking like 2018.”

“It’s blue cats and hybrids, the two main reasons to go.”

Wyffels there were still “good numbers” of hybrid striped bass in the 17- to 20- inch range. He said from angler reports he heard, they did OK on hybrids in 2021.

Wyffels said one offshoot of fish kill in 2020 was that space was opened up for some other fish. He said he numbers of smallmouth bass and largemouth bass are better post fish kill than in previous years.

But he cautioned that the numbers of smallmouth and largemouth are not like the glory days of bass fishing at LaSalle.

For me, the best news came when Wyffels said, “Bluegills are looking exceptionally well, quite a few in that 8- to 10-inch range.”

A bluegill caught from shore at LaSalle Lake on opening day Tuesday. Credit: Dale Bowman

A bluegill caught from shore at LaSalle Lake on opening day Tuesday.

Dale Bowman

In the hour and a half I had between bopping around and chatting, I targeted them on the east bank. With a mix of jigs, spinners, red worms, spikes, wax worms and leftover mousies. I caught twice as many channel catfish as bluegill (I think the peak for bluegills is a couple weeks away). Two of catfish were eater-sized.

On my two-mile trekked back, I saw shore anglers with no early hybrids, but did see one eater blue.

LaSalle is open daily 6 a.m.-sunset. As a perched lake, boating is often closed when winds top or will top 14 mph. Check daily updates on boating at a new number, (815) 640-8099.

IHSA Bass

Goreville sophomore Reice Mae Albright, who was on track to become the foremost female angler to come out of Illinois high school bass fishing, was diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumor. Multiple fundraisers are planned. See #reicemaestrong and Pray for Reice Mae on Facebook.

Last year, Albright and her senior sister Kaeden won the Lake of Egypt sectional to reach state. In 2019, Kaeden and their older brother Landon took second at state.

Wild things

Kyle Danhausen had multiple woodcocks sky dancing last week in Kankakee County. . . . Hummingbirdcentral.com had reports of ruby-throated hummingbirds to Tennessee last week. . . . Any day the first progression map should go up on the Illinois Morel Mushrooms Facebook group; last year the first posted on March 20.

Stray Cast

Spotting a Sox cap on the shelf above the coat racket Sunday at church was like seeing a guy two pools up unhook a smallmouth bass as I wade into the Kankakee.

* * * *

Go & Show

Saturday, March 19: Walleyes Unlimited swap meet, Fox Lake Legion Hall

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