One of my favorite fishing spots in IL are the old strip mines in Southern IL. There are several State wildlife managed areas throughout the Southern half of IL. One of my favorite is the River King Peabody location in New Athens, IL. (I also caught my PB Largemouth there as well) See photo 7.8lbs back in Feb 2017.
There was a time was when strip mined land was a story of environmental devastation. Now they have become successful habitat restoration. The woodlands, healthy grasslands and abundant water provide outdoor recreation for the public.
Most of the pits available for public fishing on state land. They are in parks and forest preserves or city property. They are of the right ph to provide great habitat for fish species.
It is a perfect fishery for Kayak fishing. Some of the lakes allow 15hp motors, but most of the really good fishing lakes are impossible to get a boat on. Making the Jackson fishing Kayaks perfect for portaging back to the small lakes. I usually bring my Big Rig and it is a perfect boat for the job.
Across Illinois water-filled pits dot the landscape. State biologists manage many waters for fishing. Strip mined pits produce fishing action for such species as bass, walleye, channel catfish, crappie, bluegill, sunfish, stripers, bullheads and warmouth. Some lakes contain a particular species (Musky) and access may be limited as a program of management is necessary for the future.
Vehicle access to many strip mined lakes is often restricted to maintained roadways and parking lots. Some roads close to all traffic all, or part of the time. Use caution when launching boats because the ramp may drop-off sharply. (15-25 feet deep)
Many lakes have steep sides. Bank fishing anglers and those wading in the shoreline water should use caution. It is advisable to wear a PFD while near the water. I ALWAYS wear my PFD while on the water.
Special length and creel limits provide for the future of such fisheries. Check local signage and The Illinois Fishing Digest for site specific regulations. By checking the Illinois Department of Natural Resources website, you can find the address and phone number for the IDNR Fisheries Biologist in a specific county. They are happy to give you site specific information about the fishing in their area and may guide you to a good strip pit.
Most of the best lakes require a Kayak!