Previewing fishing prospects for Braidwood Lake before opening day

Braidwood Lake, the cooling lake in southwestern Will County, has come a long way from as a fishing destination from 15 or 20 years ago.

SHARE Previewing fishing prospects for Braidwood Lake before opening day
Shore anglers massed near the parking lot of the south side of Braidwood on opening day last year.

Shore anglers massed near the parking lot of the south side of Braidwood on opening day last year.

Dale Bowman

Anglers started counting down in January to the opener for fishing next Wednesday at Braidwood Lake, the cooling lake in southwestern Will County.

Considering we’re in a mellow winter, I scratched my head, then thought, ‘‘No, Braidwood has become a destination spot again.’’

The fishery for largemouth bass, which was in the dumper a decade ago, has come back with stockings and placements of fish habitats. And adding blue catfish has been a big plus.

New this year is that there will be no fishing tournaments from July 1 to Aug. 31, during the hottest time.

In good news, district fisheries biologist Seth Love emailed: ‘‘There weren’t any notable fish kills last year, which was very welcomed.’’

Braidwood has a fall survey every other year; the next one is this fall. From the 2021 survey, all sizes of largemouth bass had excellent body condition, with 26% of adults 15 inches or longer. In 2022, the top five largemouth caught during tournaments were between 4.5 and 4.9 pounds.

Blues remain fairly stable, with the biggest in the last survey at 30.5 inches (14.5 pounds). The biggest blue caught in a survey was 20 pounds in 2013, which, Love noted, ‘‘pales in comparison to a reported 68-pound fish an angler caught hook-and-line in 2016.’’

A couple of other notes from the 2021 survey: Many bluegills were collected, but adults were dominated by smaller fish (average of 4.5 inches); and good numbers of channel catfish were collected, the biggest going 36 inches, with body condition ‘‘suboptimal for fish shorter than 11 inches and improved with fish size.’’

Hybrid striped bass are notoriously hard to survey. That’s why Love asked anglers last year to let him know about catches of hybrid stripers. He would like to hear about them again this year, but he noted: ‘‘I’d also open that up to other species, as well. Hearing from anglers is valuable information!’’

You can reach him at seth.love@illinois.gov.

Stocking requests for 2023 remain the same: 46,000 largemouth (split between fingerlings and advanced fingerlings), 23,000 hybrid-striper fingerlings and 23,000 blue catfish advanced fingerlings.

Site hours are 6 a.m. to sunset daily.

Lake Michigan fisheries

An informational meeting about Lake Michigan fisheries returns from 7 to 9 p.m. March 16 at the Illinois Department of Natural Resources offices at 9511 W. Harrison in Des Plaines.

Wild things

Early reports of red-winged blackbirds come from all around the Chicago area. . . . A first report of a deer tick was relayed. Not a good sign.

Stray cast

Following the White Sox feels like watching a deadhead stuck in an eddy.

Fans tailgate outside Guaranteed Rate Field before last year’s White Sox home opener.

Fans tailgate outside Guaranteed Rate Field before last year’s White Sox home opener.

Ashlee Rezin/Sun-Times

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