Rend Lake offers an early summer challenge to Illini Division anglers - Major League Fishing
Rend Lake offers an early summer challenge to Illini Division anglers
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Rend Lake offers an early summer challenge to Illini Division anglers

Image for Rend Lake offers an early summer challenge to Illini Division anglers
There's a good chance the Illini anglers are in for a summertime grinder on Rend.
June 13, 2024 • Sean Ostruszka • Phoenix Bass Fishing League

On paper, Rend Lake is a shallow power fisherman’s playhouse. In reality, anglers for the Phoenix Bass Fishing League Presented by T-H Marine Illini Division tournament on June 29 should be in for quite the grind. Of course, with a great payout and advancement opportunities, the grind can be worth it.

Tournament details

Phoenix Bass Fishing League Presented by T-H Marine Illini Division

Rend Lake

Sesser, Ill.

June 29

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About the fishery

Stretching more than 20,000 acres at full pool, Rend Lake in south-central Illinois has plenty of water. It also has plenty of cover, which is both a blessing and a curse.

You see, the average depth of the lake is a mere 9 feet, and most of the whole northern half is a giant, shallow stump field that is prime territory to lose a lower unit for anyone not well versed in navigating it. Thus, acres and acres of cover become borderline unfishable for anyone not willing to risk hurting their boat.

On the southern end, there’s still miles and miles of buck brush and plenty of rip rap around the various bridges and shorelines. Those tend to be the key players, as there’s really no vegetation to speak of in the fishery.

What to expect

A past winner at Rend, Garrett McDowell predicts a tough event.

There was a time when anglers could go to Rend Lake, toss a swim jig and a buzzbait around the bushes all day and crack near 20 pounds. Unfortunately, those days seem to be in the past, according to Garrett McDowell of Windsor, Ill.

The 2023 BFL Illini Division Angler of the Year says years of silting have hurt the fishery.

“The silting in and some high water in the past have killed most the vegetation, and the fishing has really suffered,” McDowell said. “This will definitely be the toughest stop on the schedule this year.”

Obviously, the buck brush will still be a major player this event, as McDowell said most guys will be “stirring mud all day” with their trolling motors covering water. However, with this being a full-on summer derby, he expects cranking rock to be the real ticket to victory for those who can get on the best spots.

“The rip rap has been really hot lately, probably because it holds a little deeper water,” McDowell said. “Many of the local summer tournaments are won doing that.”

In the end, he figures somewhere in the mid-teens will contend for the win.

“Oh, this one is definitely going to be a grinder of a tournament,” McDowell said. “Guys are going to need to either hunker down or cover a ton of water to grind out as many bites as possible. Fortunately for me, I like grinders.”