• Tom Billings

Stoke spring fires on cooling lakes: Newton & Turtle Creek

This has to be the worst part of the year for me. Deer season has come and went and rabbit

season is over too. I have organized my tackle 10 times. My reels and rods have been cleaned

and are ready to respool. I have walked around my boat probably 100 times looking for

something to fix or clean. Ice fishing is ok and I will go partake a few times but it’s not really a

passion for me. Let’s face it, I like many of you, like being on my boat with a rod and reel

flipping and pitching. By this time of year many of us have not been out in a few months and

I am getting itchy. The following is a few places and things to do here in the next couple of

weeks and months that should produce some decent fishing opportunities.

Lake Michigan can be a dangerous lake to fish on but also a very rewarding one too. Weather

and safety is the main consideration when planning your fishing day on the Lake. On those days

though when the weather is mild or manageable the early season trout and Coho season is

awesome. Now when I say “weather is manageable” remember that is all relative to your

equipment and experience. The early season brown trout fishing is great. Catching browns

and Coho’s is pretty easy and there is lots of information out there for you to learn

how to target them.

Power plant lakes provide excellent opportunities to get out early and have some great bass

fishing. Let’s talk about a few of these lakes within easy driving distance. First on my list is

Newton Lake by Effingham, IL. This lake has two sides a “hot” side and a “cold” side. The hot

side is the west arm of the lake and at the far end has a warm water discharge from the

power plant. The water on this side up by the “bubbler” can be 70 to 75 degrees in December

and January. Even on the cold side the water will be in the 50’s. Newton has a 25HP motor

restriction which means that if you are going to run the gas motor it has to be a 25hp motor

or below. If you don’t have a 25 you can run a trolling motor. Now I have done that but would

not recommend it. Most times I have done this it didn’t turn out very well, yes you guessed it,

drained trolling motor batteries. Having said that the fishing can be absolutely awesome.

There is a lot of big fish in Newton and high numbers can be common on this lake. Watch

the weather and if its 40 up here chances are it will be 10-15 degrees higher down there.

The next place and certainly not the least is Turtle Creek south of Sullivan, IN. I have to tell you,

this is hard for me to do (tell people). In the early 90’s I spent many weekends on this lake.

This lake is also a power plant lake similar to Newton. One of the differences is that you can run

any size motor on Turtle but can only go 10mph. The other difference is that Turtle has been

down for several years. 100 fish days years ago at Turtle was not uncommon but due to

extremely high water temps the grass that used to fill the lake died. For several years

the spawning was down, way down. However, for the past couple of years the bass fishing

has come back and it’s not uncommon to have a 40 to 50 fish days early in the year. This

rebound is just starting to happen so you are hearing it here first. Turtle is a wood lake. By that

I mean the main cover in the lake is wood. Trees and laydowns are everywhere on Turtle. Use

caution when motoring around has you will run up on stumps and tree tops. The warm water

discharge is on the northeast side of the lake and is buoyed off. My recommendation is to start

at the upper end of the lake early in the year for the warmest water and better fishing. Turtle

Creek will open up on February 15th. For both lakes mentioned I suggest using a jig/craw trailer

in black and blue as well as green pumpkin and brown. Spinnerbaits, square bills and

rattle baits will all be tied on and laying on my deck.

Good luck and hang in there spring fishing is right around the corner!

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