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OK, so the ice isn’t cooperating. So what. If Illinois wants to act more like Kentucky, that’s apparently fine with area fishermen. Fish are biting and biting well.

Take Lake Shelbyville for one.

Lake Shelbyville is as good as anyone will ever see for crappie right now and the boats prove it. “There must have been 50 boats in the Wilborn parking lot the last three days,” said Lake Shelbyville guide Steve Welch. “We’ve been getting our three-man limit in less than an hour.

“The reason has to be moderate December weather. We have been enjoying nice days in the high 40s and low 50s and the water temps are perfect a 39-41 (degrees) and really haven’t budged in three weeks.”

Welch says the north end of the 11,000-acre reservoir, from Bo-Woods to Wilborn, has the bigger fish. Target downed trees, especially on points leaving big coves in 10 to 14 feet of water. Welch has been using a big quarter-ounce Deep Ledge Jig in chartreuse with a 2-inch white-with-dark speckles Bass Pro Baby Shad.

Check out Evergreen Lake, too. McLean County Parks and Recreation Director Mike Steffa said crappies were going strong before Christmas. No reason to suspect that’s changed. Look for cleaner, warmer water, which means nearer the dam and nearer places the sun will warm, such as the pump house and rock rip rap or the dam itself.

Clinton Lake bridges near the hot-water discharge would certainly be worth a try. Use jig-spinners, small plastic twister tails and a wax worm. Try a piece of nightcrawler for a chance at a walleye.

Steffa said the anglers were catching walleyes below the dam at Oregon on the Rock River over the holiday when he visited.

And I’ve heard the bass anglers are catching their favorite fish at hot-water lakes such as Newton.

Pray for ice?

One weekend or so of safe ice wouldn’t be bad in time for the first Evergreen Lake Ice Fishing Tournament on Feb. 11. Adults 16 and older fish 8 a.m. to noon teamed with an adult. Kids 15 and younger fish 10 a.m. to noon with an adult.

Prizes will be awarded for first and second place for longest bluegill, crappie, bass and most fish.

Cost is $5 for adults and $5 for kid/adult team. Phone 309-434-6770 or visit www.mcleancountyil.gov/parks.

Mark the calendar

Prairieland Anglers fishing club hosts Mike Steffa, McLean County Parks and Recreation Director, at 7 p.m. Jan. 12 at Cub Food Cafe at the supermarket on Veterans Parkway in Bloomington. Steffa will talk about what’s new at Evergreen Lake/Comlara Park.

For information, email jimzoerb@gmail.com or call 309-473-2287.

Scott Richardson is Pantagraph outdoor editor. Contact him at 309-820-3227 or email srichardson@pantagraph.com. Share stories and read past outdoor and fishing columns at www.pantagraph.com/blogs

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