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Species

Rank

Fish Status

BLUEGILL

Excellent

Bluegill and other sunfish catch rates were high in the Peoria Pool and were the highest out of all Illinois River pools surveyed in 2021. Sunfish catch rates also show in increasing trend over the last ten years in the Peoria Pool. Many bluegill collected were of harvestable size between 6-8.3” and provide an excellent fishing opportunity for anglers of all ages. Anglers can catch bluegill in the warmer months of the year using worms, crickets, or night crawlers along structured shorelines, such as rip-rap.

CHANNEL CATFISH

Excellent

Channel catfish are one of the primary game fish of the Illinois River. They are very abundant in the 16 - 24 inch size range and fish over 24 inches weighing 7 - 10 pounds are common. Several year classes of channel catfish were collected in the 2021 Peoria Pool fish community survey measuring up to 24 inches and 5.4 pounds. The 2021 survey showed the highest catch rate of channel catfish in the Peoria Pool over the last 10 years (14/hour of electrofishing). Notable habitats for channel catfish are main channel border (area between the navigation channel and the river bank) and side channels with current. The Chillicothe, Lacon and Henry areas and the Peoria Narrows are notable channel catfish reaches. There remains a do-not-eat contaminant advisory on channel catfish over 18 inches in the Peoria Pool due to PCB detection in the flesh. PCB contamination in fish is a remnant of past pollution that is declining. The advisory recommends no more than 6 meals/year for channel catfish 12 - 16 inches and 1 meal per week for those under 12 inches. Advisories are developed to protect infants, children, and women of child bearing age and may be overprotective to adult men and women over child bearing age. Trim the fat, particularly around the belly, and allow fat to drip off the fish when cooking to minimize exposure to PCBs.

CRAPPIE

Good

Both black crappie and white crappie are present in the Peoria Pool, but black crappie are more abundant. Crappie catch rates were above average in 2021 with a catch rate of 5/hour electrofishing. Catch rates of black crappie in the Peoria Pool have increased over the last ten years. Backwaters, side channels and main channel border areas with submerged brush are the best locations to fish for crappie.

FLATHEAD CATFISH

Very Good

Flathead catfish are abundant in the Peoria Pool and trophy-sized fish exceeding 36 inches and 30 pounds can be found. Flatheads between 28 and 36 inches are not uncommon. The 2021 Peoria Pool fish community survey resulted in few flathead catfish catches and is likely due to poor sampling conditions. Fish the deep holes, main channel border near current breaks, and woody debris piles or other structure for flatheads.

LARGEMOUTH BASS

Excellent

Largemouth bass are prevalent throughout the Peoria Pool. Like other members of the sunfish family, they have reproductive spikes during big flood years. The Peoria Pool showed the second highest catch rate of largemouth bass compared to all other pools in the 2021 fish community surveys with over 18 bass collected per hour. Largemouth bass ranged in size from 2.8 – 14 inches weighing up to 1.6 pounds. There is a 12 inch minimum length limit and 6 fish per day creel limit on largemouth bass to allow for bass to spawn once or twice prior to being harvested. Like channel catfish, a contaminant advisory recommendation has been issued to limit consumption of all sizes of largemouth bass to one meal per week. Side channels, shallow water with structure, marinas and rip-rap are the places to fish for river bass in the Peoria Pool.

SAUGER

Excellent

Sauger and walleye are most dense in the upper end of the Peoria Pool, with sauger being more abundant. The Illinois sauger fishery is a world class fishery bringing anglers from all over the country to fish the national Masters Walleye Circuit in Spring Valley. The IDNR – Division of Fisheries State Hatcheries annually stock sauger fry in the Peoria Pool and upper pools of the Illinois River to supplement the population. Sauger and walleye are typically found in deep waters during the day, but search for food in the shallows of the main channel border at night. This behavior results in poor day-time electrofishing catch rates of adult sauger and walleye. Only 7 sauger were collected in the 2021 Peoria Pool fish community survey. The largest sauger collected measured 16 inches and weighed 1.2 pounds.

WALLEYE

Excellent

Sauger and walleye are most dense in the upper end of the Peoria Pool, with sauger being more abundant. The Illinois sauger fishery is a world class fishery bringing anglers from all over the country to fish the national Masters Walleye Circuit in Spring Valley. The IDNR – Division of Fisheries State Hatcheries annually stock sauger fry in the Peoria Pool and upper pools of the Illinois River to supplement the population. Sauger and walleye are typically found in deep waters during the day, but search for food in the shallows of the main channel border at night. This behavior results in poor day-time electrofishing catch rates of adult sauger and walleye. Only 7 sauger were collected in the 2021 Peoria Pool fish community survey. The largest sauger collected measured 16 inches and weighed 1.2 pounds.

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