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North Spring Lake

Tazewell County, IL
Tazewell County, IL
North Spring Lake is a 578 acre body of water located 6 miles north and west of Manito, Illinois, adjacent to the Illinois River.
North Spring Lake is an elongated backwater lateral marsh of the Illinois River. It was separated by a high levee from the Illinois River in 1916. The North Lake was separated from the South Lake in 1978 by a stop log structure and a spillway for discharge water. North Spring Lake receives 52 acre feet of recharge daily from springs and seeps. Spring Lake currently has a 25 horsepower limit for outboard motors. The main access is via the Spring Lake blacktop road. A single lane boat ramp is located along the causeway which crosses Spring Lake. An additional gravel ramp is located adjacent to the Sky Ranch blacktop road bridge crossing of North Spring Lake. North Spring Lake is a shallow, very fertile backwater. It has a 75% coverage of aquatic vegetation after April and until November of each year. The lake is closed to boat fishing one week prior to regular waterfowl season, and until the end of waterfowl season each year.

Always a shallow body of water, Spring Lake has an average depth of 2.9 feet. Of the 578 acres of water, at least 75% is covered with 17 different species of aquatic vegetation by late May of each year. The majority of this coverage now consists of Eurasian milfoil, lily and lotus. The tremendous spring recharge from the bed of the lake amounts to 52 acre feet a day, creating very cold water temperatures under the insulating layer of vegetation for the majority of the summer months. This is a unique situation and only occurs in Spring Lake within the State of Illinois.
North Spring Lake has three useable boat ramps and is accessible by the Manito Blacktop, 12 miles south of Pekin. No fuel or services are available, however, camping and food is. There is a 25 horsepower limit at Spring Lake.

Tournaments: All bass tournaments must register online using the new Tournament Permit System at least 30 days before the event.

New Site Regulation Effective April 2018:
Largemouth bass: protected slot length from 12 to 18 inches, with the harvest of 3 fish either over or under this protected slot.

Crappie: harvest limit of 25 fish per day with only 10 fish over 10 inches allowed.

466 acres
Boat Landing
Boat Rentals
Channel Catfish
Largemouth Bass
White Crappie
NOTE: This list may not be all inclusive of all speices present in North Spring Lake.
An excellent population of catchable-sized channel catfish is found at North Spring Lake. Best fishing for these fish is found along the Northwest levee and on the outside of the aquatic vegetation beds. Best fishing for channel catfish is at night from May through July. Best baits are cut bait and minnows.
An excellent population of black crappie occurs in North Spring Lake. The 2019 indices showed 38.5 percent of the fish were over 9 inches. In 2018 a new harvest regulation started for crappie. This regulation is a harvest limit of 25 fish per day with only 10 fish over 10 inches allowed. This regulation will allow harvest pressure on the large percentage of crappie that are under 9 inches in length.
This lake is characterized by heavy growth of aquatic vegetation for much of the spring, summer and fall. A window of opportunity for fishing exists from March until aquatic vegetation becomes excessively abundant. At that time of year, largemouth bass fishing could be rated as excellent. In May, largemouth bass fishing becomes much more difficult due to the tremendous coverage of aquatic weeds and very clear water. The extensive weed beds serve as a fish preserve, creating growth problems for intermediate and larger-sized bass. The lotus and lily pad areas are very productive in mid-summer. The 2019 surveys show the largemouth bass population was meeting all desired population indices, with 33% of the population being above 15 inches and 11% above 18 inches. This could be attributed to the good year classes of bass that have been produced at North Spring Lake the past few years moving up into these size classes. The body condition was good with an average value of 92.5. In 2018 a new harvest regulation went into effect for largemouth bass. The regulation is a protected slot from 12 to 18 inches with 3 fish per day harvest. This is an attempt to restructure to bass population to a larger percent of fish over 16 inches. Growth and condition have been tremendously impacted by the dense growth of Eurasian milfoil in the past. The management of North Spring Lake was geared toward opening forage “edge” in these solid growth milfoil beds and shifting vegetation types to native species.
The 2019 spring Musky survey yielded 266 fish. 81% of fish captured were greater or equal to 30”, with 9% of those being greater than 40”. The largest fish was a 43” female weighing 22lbs. Always a shallow body of water, 75% of north spring lake is covered with 17 different species of aquatic vegetation by late May of each year. The tremendous spring recharge from the bed of the lake amounts to 52 acre feet of new water a day, creating very cold water temperatures under the insulating layer of vegetation for the majority of the summer months. This is a unique situation and only occurs in Spring Lake within the State of Illinois. The resulting temperature regime and water quality is excellent habitat for muskie. Because of its proximity to the Jake Wolf Hatchery, North Spring Lake has been used as a brood source for muskie the past 20 years and has provided most of the early muskie stocks for statewide stocking each year. We know quite a lot about the size structure and age of the population, as well as growth. It appears that growth of female fish is excellent when compared to nation-wide populations. Growth of male muskie is in the normal range when making a similar comparison. There is a big difference in the length at age between sexes! A 32 inch female is usually 4 years old, whereas a 32 inch male is 5 years old, on average. North Spring Lake is stocked every third year at a rate of between 2 and 3 fish per acre. It has been observed that significant cannibalism occurs if muskie are stocked every year. Young muskie are especially vulnerable to 1 and 2 year old male muskie at North Spring Lake. Fishing for muskie on North Spring Lake is a challenge. The water temperatures rise quickly and usually result in fish feeding actively in late March. Aquatic vegetation becomes thick and hard to fish no later than May 15th of each year and lasts until the lake closes for regular waterfowl season. The narrow window of opportunity between the middle of March and mid-May results in some excellent fishing. The fish are then refuged by the thick vegetation until the following year. Sometimes fishing the holes in the vegetation in June is quite effective. Sometimes, late winter is excellent muskie fishing if there is open water. There are a number of large fish in the population available to muskie anglers.
STAY 22: North Spring Lake
North spring Lake was rehabilitated in the 1980s to remove an undesirable carp-gizzard shad fish population. As a result of the rehabilitation, an excellent fish population resulted. Water clarity improved and aquatic weeds flourished. Good fishing for largemouth bass, crappie, sunfish and catfish soon resulted. As part of an effort to develop a brood source for muskie, Spring Lake has been stocked with that species for 25 years. Muskie are trap netted at the lake and spawned at the Jake Wolf Fish Hatchery in March of each year. A total of over half a million eggs are produced for state-wide muskie needs each year. The muskie population is being continuously monitored using electronic tags. This marking program has been ongoing since 1999. Because of its shallow water and clarity, North Spring Lake has a tremendous coverage of aquatic vegetation. As part of an effort to reduce coverage of Eurasian milfoil (an exotic invasive plant), North Spring Lake is treated with DMA4-2, 4D each year.

Spring Lake State Fish and Wildlife Area
IDNR Fisheries Biologist, Blake Bushman
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