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Lake Shelbyville

Shelby County, Illinois
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Displaying 1 to 10 of 659 posts
8/29/23 @ 5:06 PM
User since 1/21/03
Partly Sunny 75°
Water: 76°
8-day trip, 95+ temps for several days made this old man a hostage in his motel room.  I made it to the spillway on the last two days of the trip. On Sunday night, it was a nice breeze blowing but the discharge rate was only 50cfs.  I gear up light and move around trying to locate fish without spending a lot of time on the water.  I fished from 6:30 - 8:00 p.m. with limited success.  I worked the East side which had the discharge.  I thought I could locate a few crappies but was not successful.  I fished for an hour near the discharge without even a bite after using several presentations.

I moved further down to target shallow water at dusk.  I changed to a light jighead with a 3-inch swim tail lure at dusk.  I hooked up and lost four fish.  I caught 2 small walleyes and one muskie right 24-26 inches.  So I called the day.  I don't fish long hours if I feel that I'm not tracking the fish correctly or there simply is a negative bite.  It was a beautiful evening, however.

Monday night was different.  The spillway surface was dead calm.  The bottleneck is shallow water so one need only pay attention to see baitfish being disturbed.  I changed to a light presentation with a slow steady retrieve and did fairly well.  In three hours (6-9 p.m.), I caught 3 nice walleyes and landed 6 of the 8 muskies that I hooked.  It was fun and I'm certain that if I stayed, I could have caught 10-12 muskies.  The biggest was 38 inches with the remainder between 24-32 inches.

Time well spent.  I didn't fish a lot but I enjoyed the six hours that I got in.

Until the next time.

8/11/23 @ 6:16 AM
User since 3/6/15
Jigaroni- always enjoy your reports. Though I'm not likely to ever fish Shelbyville I usually find a trick or ?2 to use where I fish. Thank you and TIGHT LINES!
8/8/23 @ 9:48 PM
User since 1/21/03
Sunny 80°
Water: 76°
River Channel
The next trip is scheduled in late August.  As it relates to Lake Shelbyville walleye fishing in the lake, this is where the boys are separated from the men!  So this boy, after 30-plus years of fishing the lake, begins to lose the walleye migratory pattern.  Everyone will catch a walleye or two while fishing for other species but you'll also notice that there aren't a lot of gratuitous photos of walleye limits.  That's because the walleyes will now go deep but only as it relates to remaining above the thermocline.  This means targeting the deepest water in each basin and then targeting deep points and breaks that occur ABOVE THE THERMOCLINE LEVEL.  It leaves you with two choices which are to troll deep diving crankbaits in the 15-18 foot range.  

Because I'm not a fan of trolling (only if I get lazy), I prefer to fish one rod well.  I like to divide the main basin by the feeder creeks to flow into them.  Walleyes will typically choose the deepest water that typically migrates in to find their baitfish.  The warmer water temperatures mean that the 'feeding window' can be small (early morning/late evening) but with a little work, if you find the breaks or drop-offs that they are using, snap-jigging large profile baits are the way to go.

As in previous communications, I only fish 3-5 hours per day (I'm old and don't like heat).  So I'm going to find them ?using the run-and-gun technique or I'm going to be chilling in my hotel room.  I will use ?Rapala jigging lures, large white twister tails, and weight-forward spinners.  Yes. I like creating modified spinner rigs with a long shank hook (I use Keitech plastics on them), a short leader, and a 1/4 oz egg sinker about ?24 inches up on the leader.  This allows me to cast up onto breaks and slow roll a spinner rigs (which I sometimes tip with a nightcrawler) and work it down the break where I've marked fish.  Don't waste time.  You either find active fish or move on.  Don't pass on creek channels that feed into the main basins.  Good luck out there.  I have an 80% chance ?of getting skunked on this trip while fishing for walleye.  I will only switch to crappies to break the losing streak!

Tight lines everyone.  ?Will post results upon my return trip.

7/1/23 @ 12:54 PM
User since 1/21/03
Sunny 80°
Water: 76°
Just returned from my latest Shelbyville foray.  Fished the spillway for only three days.  Took it on the chin.  I caught no walleye and only a handful of small crappies.  The conditions were bright and sunny with little to no winds.  Combined with a minimal water flow and those fish will travel downriver to cooler water and deeper holes.  I fought and landed a 42-46 lb grass carp (foul hooked).  It took 30 minutes to bring it to shore.  Lots of fun on six-pound P-line fluorocarbon.

The lake was more favorable.  Found walleyes on both rocky and hard-bottomed points.  The best ones to fish are the ones that the original channel travels parallel to the points.  It was a fun trip with a lot of catch and release.  Crappies can be caught everywhere by trolling crankbaits in open water near the mouth of coves and river channels. 

Time for this old man to take a break from the heat!  The weather made for short days on the lake (4-5 hours) but it's still enjoyable to be out on the waterways.

Tight lines,

6/7/23 @ 9:46 PM
User since 1/21/03
Water: 74°
Well, my next trip is in two weeks.  This is where spillway fishing becomes a grind due to the current drought that the Midwest is experiencing. 
The discharge rate continues to be very low which translates to limited water volume flowing.  This means that most fish continue to move downriver to deeper holes from Shelbyville down through Vandalia.  For those who are spillway fisherperson enthusiasts, it's a time for a little bit more understanding of fishing in the same area that you've been during the spring as there are about 30% of the fish.

Now, if you're fishing in the early a.m. and daytime, you're looking at live bait (minnows & nightcrawlers) to trigger bites.  Early morning and evening will present the best odds of catching a few walleyes, saugers, and crappies.  At night, you're focusing on walleyes, crappies, and some muskies.  The trick is experimenting with the retrieval technique that will trigger strikes.  During the months of June through August, spillway fishing becomes a grind when the discharge rate is slow.  I will be focusing on lake fishing but will make a few night trips to the spillway just to see if I can get lucky.

?As it relates to the spillway, I will focus on unconventional aggressive methods of retrieval which trigger 'reactive bites'.  My best success comes from snap jigging, fishing Ned rigs, and large flukes.  We'll see if the pattern holds up but I know that it's going to be tough.  My goal is to catch 2-3 fish in 2-3 hours in the spillway and ?I'll consider myself lucky!  

Good luck out there and looking forward to ?providing an update upon my return.

5/31/23 @ 2:40 PM
User since 1/21/03
Sunny 70°
Water: 71°
Okay, now my last trip is officially in the books and I'll share what I experienced, learned, and enjoyed.  The discharge rate of 50 cfs is just shy of 5,000 gallons per second flowing through.  In these situations, one key rule is to fish the flow side of the spillway.  I know that it's not much, but fish associate any level of current with baitfish movement.  I observed a little bit of shad activity in the evening evading several predator species that were breaking the surface (gar, muskies, white bass, etc.).  This trip would prove challenging because you are literally throwing out most of the techniques and baits that were successful a mere 30 days ago.

For 7 days, I averaged 4-5 saugers (a few walleyes) that I managed to catch.  I caught at least 2 muskies per day (little 24-inch guys) and honestly, several of the fish were in the 14-15 inch range but although legal, too skinny to harvest.  My target window was 6:30 - 10:00 p.m.  There simply is not a lot of feeding activity is low.  This is due to a combination to slow moving water, heat, and little wind.  There's just something about water without refraction (winds) that will keep fish tight to the bottom and in holes downriver.  Some will move up as the sun hits the horizon and actively feed.

Whenever there is slow-moving water; fish the current side and as far up towards the dam as you can go.  It's just better odds.  Right at sunset/dusk, I caught white bass and a few very nice crappies (12-14 inches).  As I mentioned earlier, I'm a fan of both paddle tail-style baits and jerk baits.  Several muskies came on a ned rig jighead with a 5-inch yellow ringworm.  There is something about a rig that stands a bait upright in the water.  It feels good when you feel a fish pick it up.  My muskies came in the evening before dark.  My sauger/walleye came from dusk until 9:00 p.m. or so.  Fishing until 10:30ish is just an old man that really enjoys being out on a quiet evening fishing.  Something relaxing about it.

My 7-day trip was a 'no harvest' trip.  I caught and release approximately 30 saugers/walleyes, 9 small muskies, and a lot of crappies and white bass.

Again to recap (learned and repeating information);

1.  Fish in the evenings or early morning for the best bite.  I can't tell you about the a.m. bite but it's good (from friends).  I like to sleep.
2.  Observe and respect the older experienced fishermen.  Although you should study them and learn, respect them by not invading their space the following days (etiquette).  What you've learned through observation can be applied up and down the dam with success.
3.  Again, ask questions and engage some of the fishermen there.  Lots of great guys out there and a very small number of grumpy ones but they are harmless Well worth engaging overall as it will allow you to have a better experience.  I'm used to providing insights, and sharing lures and jigs because I love the sport and I want everyone to catch fish and enjoy it too.
4.  Best overall bait; paddle tail-styled lures in natural colors 3-4 inches long.
I fished for two days on the lake.  Caught 8 walleyes on the first day on different presentations and Day 2 was crappie fishing.  ?This time of year, drop a few Flicker shads, and 200 Series Bandits about 30-40 yards back, and catch a limit of crappies in less than two hours.

Next trip:  ?Late June.  I'll be fishing deep points on the lake for walleyes.  ?

Stay safe and I hope that you can use some ?of the information provided.  Follow the social media sites of the guides on the lake.  You'll find tons of information to improve your experience.

Tight lines....

5/13/23 @ 8:55 AM
User since 1/25/21
As usual Jig, your observations, experience and instructions are always appreciated, thank you.
5/12/23 @ 9:36 PM
User since 1/21/03
Partly Sunny 60°
Water: 50°
Rip Rap
Providing a broad-based summary regarding recent fishing trips to the spillway in late April and May.  Walleye fishing has been excellent as walleyes continue to feed up from post-spawn.  Daily limits for those that are willing to study the water flows, weather, and how the water is being discharged threw the gates.  Each combination in terms of discharges through the gates, chutes or a combination thereof, will dictate where the crappie and walleye will position when feeding. I caught walleye limits seven of the nine days that I fished with several large fish released and skinny limits.  Average fish were between 17-22 inches which is very good for this particular spillway.  The crappie fishing was very good.  It was a matter of spotting the eddies in the water flow.  Once you spot the slack water, you will find crappie schools suspended in this area during non-feeding periods.  You can find them early a.m. and p.m. easily but during mid-day, you have to find the depth by finding the right jig weight and count-down to quickly learn that ?an abundance of fish awaits.  My favorite two baits are bass assassins and crappie sliders. Color isn't as important as finding these schools of fish but a crappie nibble doesn't hurt.

The best bites were early a.m. and dusk.  The best baits were crappie sliders and paddle tail-style baits. My targeted fishing window was between 4:30 p.m. through 8:30 p.m.  

Again, take 30 minutes and study the fishermen that are there.  You will learn where and where not to fish based on their results.  Then move to where they are fishing, sit down, observe, and learn.  Do not be afraid to ask questions.  In my 40 years of fishing the spillway, I've only come across a handful of fishermen that were not willing to share information, insights, and techniques.  There are simply good people that fish the Shelbyville spillway.

Headed back down next week.  I expect a new challenge as the discharge rate drops to 40 cfs which is a totally different approach.  My successful baits of the last trip will remain in the car.  Now is the time to shift to countdowns, blade baits, and jerk baits.  Best bite windows will remain between early a.m. and dusk.

Best of luck out there and stay safe. ?Feedback is appreciated to know that the updates have some value to those that want to know to fish this spillway effectively but always remember, save some for the next guy!

5/5/23 @ 6:52 PM
User since 4/24/17
Sunny 75°
Water: 65°
Lake Shelbyville crappie are on fire! If you want to catch them right now & next week is going to be PRIME.
I was there the last 3 days water went from 58 To 65, I was on the south end of the lake.
At the cleaning stations the dumpsters were full by the end of the day. LOTS of boats out to no surprise, & must be very cautious the water is    4 -5 feet low, the gates at dam had very little water flowing. You will catch a lot of under-size fish.
I hope this helps some one!

Tight Lines.
4/5/23 @ 8:05 PM
User since 1/21/03
Cloudy 50°
Water: 42°
Just completed my latest trip to fish the spillway.  Overall, I would rate it as slow.  I felt that it was water temperature related.  The water temperature was 42 degrees in the spillway.  That's the sweet spot for the actual walleye spawn (39-43 degrees).  The bit was super spotty and what resembled a bite window was less than 90 minutes (dusk).  

I had a personal best of catching muskies each day during the trip.  Admittedly, I wasn't fishing for them but they were the only game in town.  I caught approximately 12 muskies; 5 foul hooked and the rest were caught on 4-5 inc swim baits.  The three largest were 38,40,42.  I saw two guys that I knew lose two larger ones on 'the leap'!  Always fun and most were released without removing them from the water.  The walleye bite was not there.  They had more important things to do.  Expect the bite to pick in two weeks.

There's a ton of baitfish at the moment lining the shores by the tens of thousands.  Our best evening was 7 walleyes with the largest just shy of 6lbs.  All fish on the trip were released. Hopefully, the bite will improve.  We expect the white bass, crappie, and hybrids to move in mid-May which makes for fun fishing.  

Take what you need to sustain your family and leave some for the next guys!

Tight lines and safe a journey.
Displaying 1 to 10 of 659 posts
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