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PRAIRIE LAKE (Site M)- JEPCSFWA


Lake Information

County: Cass

Acreage: 210

Average Depth: 18.01 feet

Recreational Amenities

Boat Fishing? Unrestricted

Boat Ramps? Yes

Boat Rental? No

Skiing? No

Swimming? No

Picnicking? Yes

Camping? Yes


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There are no zebra mussels in this lake.

Fishing Outlook  ( Full PDF Report )

Click here for a list of all reports.

Species

Rank

Fish Status

BLACK CRAPPIE

Average

Black crappie were not stocked by the IDNR, but have appeared in yearly surveys for more than 10 years. Of the black crappie collected in the 2016 spring trap net survey, fish ranged in size from 7-14”. All crappie were in less than desired body condition. Anglers can catch crappie in the spring and fall on submerged structures and stickups with spinners, jigs and minnows.

BLUEGILL

Poor

The original management plan for Prairie Lake was to provide a trophy panfishery, but the bluegill populations did not progress as planned. Therefore, a new management strategy was implemented in 2010 that focused on other facets of the fishery. Bluegill populations in Prairie Lake are poor, displaying large numbers of small fish. A Columnaris disease outbreak occurred in late July, 2016, that affected mainly the bluegill population. Columnaris is a naturally occurring bacteria that can cause a fish mortality under the appropriate conditions (warm water temperatures and a stressed fish population followed by a rain event).

CHANNEL CATFISH

Excellent

The channel catfish population is excellent both in quantity and quality. Many 2–8 lb fish are collected in surveys every year. Channel catfish are stocked into Prairie Lake on a biennial basis to supplement the population. Anglers can catch channel catfish around brushy areas, coves, and along the shoreline in the warmer months of the year using bottom fishing techniques with cut bait, shrimp, chicken livers or night crawlers. Site Regulation: 6 fish daily limit.

LARGEMOUTH BASS

Excellent

The largemouth bass population is doing well. 17% of catchable fish collected in the spring 2016 survey measured over the 15” minimum length limit, while 8% measured over 18”. Largemouth bass catch rates have increased over the last several years; our 2016 collection rate was the highest catch rate observed in the last 10 years. This may be due to the switch from 3-phase AC to pulsed-DC electrofishing gear rather than an increase in bass density. The largest largemouth bass that was collected in the spring 2016 survey measured 20.5” long and weighed 5.2 pounds. This lake can be difficult to fish due to its maximum depth of 45’, steep sides, and abundant vegetation and woody cover, but very rewarding. Anglers can catch largemouth bass during the warmer months of the year around beds of aquatic vegetation, points, and deadfalls with plastic worms, jigs, spinners, crank baits, minnows, crayfish and worms. Site Regulation: 15" minimum length limit, 3 fish daily limit.

MUSKELLUNGE

Very Good

Over the last 10 years, the muskie collected via electrofishing were few and far between and in poor body condition. Many angler accounts also reported muskie in poor body condition. A gizzard shad stocking was implemented in 2010 to supplement muskie diets and improve body condition. We conducted a trap net survey in the spring of 2016, and were pleasantly surprised collect over 100 healthy muskie. We set 24 trap nets for two nights. In total, we collected 101 muskie. We collected 24 females, 75 males, and 2 immature fish. The females ranged in size from 37.3" and 16.1 lbs - 45.2" and 26.9 lbs, while the males ranged in size from 26.2" and 4.7 lbs - 40.8" and 19.2 lbs. The average body condition is average. Biennial muskie stocking will continue on even years. Anglers can catch muskie in the spring and fall around beds of aquatic vegetation using minnows, spinners, spoons, jigs, jerk and crank baits. 48" minimum length limit, 1 fish daily limit.

REDEAR SUNFISH

Poor

The original management plan for Prairie Lake was to provide a trophy panfishery, but the redear sunfish populations did not progress as planned. Therefore, a new management strategy was implemented in 2010 that focused on other facets of the fishery. Redear sunfish populations in Prairie Lake are poor, displaying large numbers of small fish.

Location: Prairie Lake is located at the Jim Edgar Panther Creek State and Fish and Wildlife Area, 8 miles north of Ashland and 40 miles northwest of Springfield.

Description: In the early 1990s, the Department of Natural Resources purchased 15,575 acres of ground from Commonwealth Edison. Ten old farm ponds on the site were rehabilitated and restocked, and three new larger lakes were constructed. Gridley Lake was completed and stocked in 1997, followed by Prairie and Drake lakes in 1999 and 2002, respectively. Prairie Lake is the largest lake, spanning 210 acres. It has a maximum depth of 45' and an average depth of 18'. It is steep sided, has extensive beds of aquatic vegetation and woody cover, and is very clear with visibilities of 10-14'.

History and Status of the Sport Fishery: For information on the other bodies of water in the Jim Edgar Panther Creek State Fish Wildlife Area:


Gridley Lake

Drake

Gurney Road Pond

Additional Lake Information: 2 pole and line fishing only. Prairie Lake has unlimited horsepower with a no-wake zone for the entire lake. Sail boats are allowed.

Site Regulations:
Largemouth bass: 15" minimum length limit, 3 fish daily limit
Muskie: 48" minimum length limit, 1 fish daily limit
Channel catfish: 6 fish daily limit

Contact Information:
Site Office
217-452-7741
IDNR Fisheries Biologist, Tad Locher
217-720-0235

There were 39 tournaments held on this waterbody in 2018.

Species Total Fish Caught
Largemouth Bass 659
Muskellunge 6

Top 5 Largemouth Bass caught on this waterbody in 2018 tournaments:

1     6.94 lbs
2     6.71 lbs
3     6.41 lbs
4     6.31 lbs
5     6.31 lbs

Top 5 Bag Weights of Largemouth Bass caught on this waterbody in 2018 tournaments:

1 155.00 lbs
2 114.67 lbs
3 98.74 lbs
4 95.31 lbs
5 89.70 lbs


Multiple day tournaments are listed with * end date.

Interested in participating in one of these public tournaments? Contact us with tournament ID for more information.

2019-2020 Approved or Pending Tournaments
Start Date ID Approval Ramp Location Bank/Boat
Hook/Bow
Max Boats Species Youth? Open to Public?
November-2213731ApprovedPrairie Lake Ramp (off Rt 11) boat
hook
12Largemouth Bass
NoYes
March-2114193ApprovedPrairie Lake Ramp (off Rt 11) boat
hook
20Largemouth Bass
NoNo
April-18
*April-19
14288ApprovedPrairie Lake Ramp (off Rt 11) boat
hook
20Muskellunge
NoYes
April-2614445ApprovedPrairie Lake Ramp (off Rt 11) boat
hook
20Largemouth Bass
Smallmouth Bass
YesNo
April-2814242ApprovedPrairie Lake Ramp (off Rt 11) boat
hook
15Largemouth Bass
Smallmouth Bass
NoNo
May-0914630ApprovedPrairie Lake Ramp (off Rt 11) boat
hook
15Largemouth Bass
NoNo
May-1613783ApprovedPrairie Lake Ramp (off Rt 11) boat
hook
15Largemouth Bass
Smallmouth Bass
Spotted Bass
NoNo
May-1614814ApprovedPrairie Lake Ramp (off Rt 11) boat
hook
20Muskellunge
YesYes
May-1713977ApprovedPrairie Lake Ramp (off Rt 11) boat
hook
18Largemouth Bass
NoNo
May-23
*May-24
14694ApprovedPrairie Lake Ramp (off Rt 11) boat
hook
15Largemouth Bass
NoNo
May-3014868ApprovedPrairie Lake Ramp (off Rt 11) boat
hook
15Largemouth Bass
NoNo
May-3113808ApprovedPrairie Lake Ramp (off Rt 11) boat
hook
15Largemouth Bass
NoNo
June-0714439ApprovedPrairie Lake Ramp (off Rt 11) boat
hook
12Largemouth Bass
NoNo
June-1314780ApprovedPrairie Lake Ramp (off Rt 11) boat
hook
10Multiple SpeciesNoNo
June-1414429ApprovedPrairie Lake Ramp (off Rt 11) boat
hook
15Largemouth Bass
NoNo
June-2014373ApprovedPrairie Lake Ramp (off Rt 11) boat
hook
20Largemouth Bass
NoNo
June-2813878ApprovedPrairie Lake Ramp (off Rt 11) boat
hook
20Largemouth Bass
NoNo
July-1814799ApprovedPrairie Lake Ramp (off Rt 11) boat
hook
30Largemouth Bass
Smallmouth Bass
NoNo
July-2614616ApprovedPrairie Lake Ramp (off Rt 11) boat
hook
7Largemouth Bass
NoNo
August-1514274ApprovedPrairie Lake Ramp (off Rt 11) boat
hook
20Largemouth Bass
NoNo
August-2213809ApprovedPrairie Lake Ramp (off Rt 11) boat
hook
15Largemouth Bass
Smallmouth Bass
Spotted Bass
NoNo
August-2314869ApprovedPrairie Lake Ramp (off Rt 11) boat
hook
15Largemouth Bass
NoNo
September-0514628ApprovedPrairie Lake Ramp (off Rt 11) boat
hook
15Largemouth Bass
NoNo
September-0614629ApprovedPrairie Lake Ramp (off Rt 11) boat
hook
15Largemouth Bass
NoNo
September-1914218ApprovedPrairie Lake Ramp (off Rt 11) boat
hook
15Largemouth Bass
NoNo
September-2714440ApprovedPrairie Lake Ramp (off Rt 11) boat
hook
12Largemouth Bass
NoNo
October-24
*October-25
14318ApprovedPrairie Lake Ramp (off Rt 11) boat
hook
20Muskellunge
NoYes