sauger 2The 273 miles of the Illinois River divides into 5 pools as it meanders across the state.  The final one is the Alton Pool, just up river from St. Louis. The Alton Pool extends from the tailwaters below La Grange Lock & Dam downstream some 82 miles to Grafton.

The bottom contains mud and sand with side channels forming islands.  Swift current below the La Grange dam holds concentrations of sauger and provides the best sauger fishing in the river.   The river is popular with recreational boaters and is a commercial barge waterway.  Probably the best time for anglers is during the week. There are also public areas open to bank fishing.

Fishing from a boat is the best choice.  Not all fish habitat is open to fishing.  Illinois law declares public only backwaters that have natural connections to the river and where the water rises and falls along with the river.  Dug out areas such as marinas and entrances to duck clubs are not natural connections.

The lower Illinois is historically one of the most productive Illinois waters.  However the aquatic habitat degradation caused by sediment in the backwater, erosion around islands, and the invasion of Asian Carp has hurt the native fishery.  Still there is excellent sport fishing in this pool. Continue reading –