Have You Tried Loud Thunder?

Renovations, repairs and improvements have been underway at Loud Thunder, the largest of Rock Island County’s Forest Preserves. This almost 1500-acre property offers fishing both in the 167 acres of man-made Lake George and the Mississippi River which borders one of the campgrounds. In the lake, you can catch bullheads, redears, pumpkinseeds, walleyes, crappies, large- and smallmouth bass, muskies, northern pike, perch, rock bass, warmouths, catfish, bream and bluegills. In the Mississippi and the backwaters off the campground, you will find all of the typical midwestern river fish.

Whether you want to actively baitcast, watch a bobber, troll, bottom fish or fly fish, Loud Thunder has a time a fish and a place for you. Boats on the lake are limited to electric motors, and from Memorial Day through Labor Day weekends, boat/canoe rentals are available. There are boat ramps and docks on both the lake and the Mississippi River. Incidentally, Andalusia backwaters have long been known as really good fishing for a number of species of river fish.

Located off Illinois Route 92, this rural and scenic Forest Preserve is part of the the Illinois Great River Road National Scenic Byway.

The really nice thing about planning a Loud Thunder week or weekend is that, even when the Mississippi is at high flood stage, the great fishing in Lake George is still available. The riverside campground might be closed for flooding, but there will be places to camp around the lake, so you don’t have to cancel your plans due to high water.

Keep in mind, though, that many fish have their seasons; for instance, your best chances for muskies are in the spring and fall, off points and in the bays. Bass will be most aggressive in these same areas in May and June, and the best time for channel cats here will be in summer, in the shallows and at the dam.

Lake George has an irregular shape, with two large fingers off the main body and lots of little fingers all around its more than six-mile shoreline. The banks can be steep in places. The average water depth is a little over 21 feet, with a maximum depth of about 55 feet. Limited snacks and some essentials, along with some baits, are available at the Park Office during the same period. The Park is open from April 1 to October 31.

This summer promises to be a premier fishing year on Lake George. During 2018-19, the lake was drastically drawn down to make repairs to both the dam and the spillway. As a result, years of overgrown water vegetation died out along and below the waterline. It also forced all of the fish into a very limited amount of water. There was a lot of predation, eliminating the small mature fish and less viable fry. Not only are the big fish fatter, but having fed so easily for parts of 2018 and 2019, with the return to normal levels, they are having to hunt harder and are more aggressive. The lake was back to normal levels in late summer of last year, so there was plenty of oxygenated water for the winter population. All reports from the ice fishing season were that the panfish were large and hungry.

To be honest, I have never caught either a muskie or northern at Lake George, but I have never really actively fished for them. My tackle box is fitted for the more common species of midwestern river and small lake fish, so that is what I fish for and catch.

While the dam end of the lake usually has a number of boats, especially on weekends, for the fisherman who wants to do some quiet angling there are lots of very secluded bays where you can take panfish, catfish and an occasional bass, and never see another boat all afternoon. For a better idea of the type of fishing available in this lake, search Lake George, Andalusia, Illinois or Loud Thunder, Andalusia, Illinois.

For those who want to camp and fish, there are five campgrounds and a sixth under construction. The campground along the river has full service, limited service and tent sites with a shower house. Some of the other campgrounds offer camping for RVs and tents, but they have only water available on site and pit toilets with no showers. There is also an equestrian campground on site with limited services. When the construction on the new campground is complete, there will be more and improved equestrian services included.

Within the park there are trails for almost everyone. The short, 2-mile medium-skill trail requires little more than walking, while the 12-mile loop has some ups and downs along with areas that are a more difficult. The shared use trail is available to mountain bike enthusiasts and horseback riders as well as hikers.

When it opens, the new Deere Haven RV Park will offer 35 pull-through sites, a dozen or more back-in sites, all with full services. There is a large playground in Loud Thunder and it is expected that the new ADA playground will open the summer of 2020.

Andalusia is about 20 to 25 minutes out of the Quad Cities, but there is overnight lodging nearer to the park. Andalusia is just five minutes away, and while it is a small town, you can get some supplies there.

Loud Thunder offers a number of unique experiences, including both lake and river fishing, camping in full service social settings and more quiet, primitive sites for RVs as well as tents. This is one of the few equestrian campgrounds in this part of the Midwest and it is also part of the renovation and improvements ongoing at the park. During winter, the trails are ideal for snowshoeing and cross-country skiing, but to the best of my knowledge, they are not open to snowmobiles.

If you are looking for a new place to fish, hike, bike or just relax for a week or a weekend, you really should think seriously about Loud Thunder.

 

 

For more information…

call 309-795-1040 during daytime hours.