Sunday, July 12, 2015

Shelbyville Dam river carpsucker

Shelbyville is becoming one of my favorite spots to fish when the other rivers in Illinois are high.  June was the rainiest in Illinois history, so needless to say, the rivers are high right now!  The water level at Shelbyville was the highest I've seen, but the water was still fairly clear.  I started off throwing a jig close to the spillway and found that crappie were biting.

Black Crappie (Pomoxis nigromaculatus)

When I switched to a piece of nightcrawler on a small hook, I caught sunfish and yellow bass.  The yellow bass are especially abundant here.

Bluegill (Lepomis macrochirus)

Longear Sunfish (Lepomis megalotis)

Yellow Bass (Morone mississippiensis)

I rigged up a sturdier rod with a baitfeeder reel and fish finder rig.  Before I chummed the area, I used a whole nightcrawler on a #4 Octopus circle hook.  My first catch wasn't what I was expecting!

I chummed the concrete in front of me with corn and alfalfa pellets.  While I waited for fish to arrive, I continued fishing with nightcrawlers.  Based on what I caught, carp were the first fish to arrive in my chum area.

Common Carp (Cyprinus carpio)

I held the 12 ft crappie rod in my hands while I kept an eye on the baitfeeder rod sitting on the concrete.  Similar to last time, I rigged up the crappie rod with a #10 Octopus hook and one or two pieces of corn.  It wasn't getting much action, but I saw the baitfeeder rod twitch every so often.  After a few stronger taps I put tension on the line and brought in this fish, a surprise lifer!

River Carpsucker (Carpiodes carpio) - new hook & line species #294

River carpsuckers are similar to quillback (see the previous post), but they have rounder snouts and their eyes are closer to the front of their heads.

The easiest way to tell the two species apart is to look at the lower lip.  If there is a nipple in the center, then it's a river carpsucker.  No nipple, and it's a quillback.

After a while the bite changed from carp to buffalo.  They seem to arrive a bit late, but once they show up, they really show up in force.  Using two rods baited with corn, I caught seven buffalo over the course of the afternoon.

Smallmouth Buffalo (Ictiobus bubalus)

Despite the rain in the morning, it got pretty hot in the afternoon.  When I finished the last of my three bottles of water, I decided to pack up and call it a day.  I threw a jig one last time and caught another crappie.  All fish were catch, photo, release today!


  1. What a lucky guy!

  2. There are a lot of carpsuckers at this spot! :)

  3. Can the next one be a highfin?

  4. Sure. But will this concrete corridor be above water later?

  5. Here's the gage.

    I went there when it was 8.4 ft, and the ledge was submerged, but it was too shallow for any big fish to come up on it. That was when I sight fished the quillback. The same day the water rose to 9.6 ft, and that's when all the buffalo and carp came up on the ledge to feed. I'd say for future reference, 9.0 ft or higher would be good for chumming the concrete ledge.

  6. OK. But there seems discrepancy between the height the page is showing and what you saw on a gauge on site because the page is showing around 11.5 feet.

  7. Yes, yesterday it was 11.5 ft. I could no longer see my chum or the fish on the ledge when it was that high. What I wrote above was for my previous visit to Shelbyville.