I’m the luckiest guy in the world. Through the Colby Simms Outdoors’ outfitting business, my pro fishing and media careers take me around the world, in pursuit of trophy class fish and game at the planet’s best destinations. I get to fish around 250-300 days a year or more. While the exotic fishing at our resorts and lodges in places like Costa Rica, Mexico, Canada and Alaska are on fresh on my mind, while I’m writing this article in the dead of winter, I still never get tired of fishing in the Midwest. After returning home from my last media trip at our newest resort in Central America, I was still excited to get back on the water at my favorite locations in the heartland of the United States. Even though, I’d been landing billfish from 70 to 400 pounds just days before, I was still as excited as kid on Christmas morning, catching bass, muskies, walleyes and stripers from home waters and those a short drive away.
No matter how many incredible fishing experiences I have far away, I never get tired of fishing right here in the good old Midwest, where I was born and raised. We are blessed with some magnificent angling opportunities here, and together with my staff guides, I get to experience the best fishing in the Midwest on a routine basis. 2012 produced some fantastic fishing for the Colby Simms Outdoors Team and our guests. Many of our guide service and outfitting company clients caught their personal biggest fish, or had the best day for numbers of their lives, and a few were lucky enough to nab both. 2012 brought with it the worst drought we’ve seen, across much of this land. Still, the fish didn’t seem to mind, as they fed with reckless abandon, giving anglers plenty of opportunities. 2013 looks to be even better at a number of our favorite guiding locations, as various bait fish and game fish species are in abundance in quality sizes, and ready for another year of growth. Let’s talk about some of the very best options for the coming spring, summer and fall seasons.
It’s no surprise to most of my magazine readers, TV viewers and pro fishing fans that my home waters at Kinkaid Lake still rank at the top of my list of Midwestern favorites. This gorgeous wilderness lake in southern Illinois has consistently been rated in the top 10 muskie waters in the entire world, producing high numbers of fish and giant specimens as well. It’s the number one choice for muskie fishing for Ray and me, as well as most of our staff guides across the United States and Canada too. The largemouth bass fishing at Kinkaid is incredible as well, both for numbers of fish and trophies too, and many consider Kinkaid by far the number one bass fishing water in Illinois. It’s the only major lake in the area containing smallmouth bass, and this species has doing better every year since the state first began stocking efforts. Kinkaid is quite possibly the best lake around for giant crappies too, including the near state record caught just a few years back. Kinkaid also produces great fishing for bluegills and sunnies, white bass, channel and flathead catfish and walleyes. Kinkaid is where I began guiding and fishing professionally full-time, more than a decade ago, and what a lake to call home. I get to spend more than a couple hundred days fishing Kinkaid each year, and I love every minute of it!
*Saint Francis River
The Saint Francis River in southeast Missouri is a unique gem among fisheries. This clear, rocky wilderness river winds through some of the most beautiful country imaginable. Our guides favor two species, depending on the section of the river they’re fishing, and I certainly agree. The smallmouth bass and the white bass rule this river. Smallies are more common in the far upper reaches, while whites are everywhere in the bottom end of the upper section above Wappapello Lake. Still, both of these hard fighters can be found in abundance throughout most of the river, and in large sizes too. Largemouth bass are also common, and rock bass, also called goggle eye, are very common too. Fishing for largemouth and rocks is awesome up and down most of this stream. Big bluegills, crappies, channel and flathead catfish, walleyes and various sunfish species also provide great sport in this special place.
*Kentucky & Barkley Lakes
The Kentucky and Barkley Lake chain in western Kentucky offers the best trophy bass fishing in all of the Midwest. Kinkaid would be my second pick for trophy largemouth, and it can provide faster action, but Kentucky and Barkley are probably the best bet for double digit largemouth bass across much of the country, with exception of some lakes in the south. Additionally, these waters harbor lots of huge smallmouth bass and spotted bass as well. Fishing for bluegills, sunfish, crappies, catfish, white bass and stripers can be good too, but with so many huge black bass, it’s tough to justify spending time on anything else.
Webster Lake in northern Indiana is a hot spot for muskie activity. This lake is relatively small compared to the others, but it holds a good sized population of these toothy predators. Webster has a high number of fish per acre and would probably be our second choice in the region for catching numbers of muskies, second only to Kinkaid. Webster has also produced some big trophy caliber muskies for our staff guides as well and is definitely worth investing some time.
Another southern Illinois gem, like Kinkaid, Cedar is also located in the Shawnee National Forest. Cedar Lake is best known for its tremendous striper fishing. Pure striped bass roam these beautiful waters in larger than average sizes for the state of Illinois. In fact, there might not be a better body of water in the state for anglers looking to tie into a large Illinois striper. Crappie fishing is also very popular at this lake, as it’s loaded with this species, often producing fast action. Largemouth bass are another main draw here, as Cedar produces great numbers of quality fish, with some big ones thrown in the mix. Various sunfish and catfish species, as well as walleyes are also available in this picturesque lake.
*Get Out There
These Midwestern waters offer some of the hottest fishing in all of North America and look to produce hot results for anglers in the coming seasons. We still have guide trip dates and lodging available for spring, summer and fall, but after last year’s hot action, it’s expected to fill up quickly with anglers looking to get in on the hottest Midwestern fishing to be had in 2013. Life passes by all too quickly. For lovers of God’s great outdoors like us, nothing matches time spent in nature with these great creatures, so get out there…
To book a guided trip or guiding & lodging package to these waters contact Colby Simms Outdoors at: 618-521-0526 / 573-358-5948 * or firstname.lastname@example.org .
COLBY SIMMS is an internationally renowned record holding fishing pro & media personality, as a TV & radio star, tournament pro with championship titles in muskie and bass circuits, a tackle designer, writer & photographer, speaker & award winning fishing guide. He’s Founder & President of the Colby Simms Outdoors group of companies. Get unique top quality American made lures, find articles, reports, photos & more, set up media work, seminars, sponsorships & public appearances, and book guided trips & fishing vacations in the United States, Canada, Mexico & Costa Rica at www.ColbySimmsOutdoors.com .