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Bass Fishing In Illinois

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Guide to fishing for spotted, smallmouth and largemouth bass.

By Rick Seaman

Bass fishing At Daybreak

Illinois Bass Fishing

Bass fishing in Illinois

Bass fishing in Illinois is a beloved pursuit, cherished by anglers of all ages, backgrounds, and skill levels. Few experiences rival the thrill of hooking into a largemouth or smallmouth bass, making it a timeless pastime that transcends cultural boundaries. Whether you're a seasoned pro or a novice angler eager to learn the ropes, mastering the art of bass fishing can be immensely rewarding. That's why this page is dedicated to offering invaluable insights and tips on bass fishing, providing a comprehensive guide on everything from bass fishing techniques to essential bass-catching strategies. Whether you're seeking advice on selecting the perfect lure or honing your casting skills, we're here to equip you with the knowledge and expertise needed to excel on the water. Dive into our wealth of information to discover the secrets of successful bass fishing and unlock the full potential of your angling endeavors.

Bass fishing basics video.

Bass Fishing Favorites

Largemouth Bass Fishing In Illinois

Largemouth Bass

Largemouth bass are the most abundant, and most pursued bass in Illinois. They are available in most warm-water lakes in the state, they tend to thrive in most water conditions and grow to bragging size in relative short order. Often called big mouth bass, or wide mouth bass, they are savvy predators that feed on most things that live in their territory. Bass in the 5 to 10-pound range are common in Illinois. The state record largemouth bass is over 13 pounds.

Finding & Catching Bigmouth Bass

Anglers can target big mouth bass in various lakes, reservoirs, and rivers. Spring and early summer are typically the best seasons for targeting largemouth bass as they are more active and feeding in the shallows near shoreline cover. Start with topwater baits, as they cover the water most efficiently. Reaction baits like crankbaits and spinnerbaits are the next choice. For finicky bass, plastic worms and jigs may entice a bite as you can move them very slowly around cover. In the heat of summer and the cold of winter bass move to deeper water, usually following the baitfish. Jigs, drop shot rigs and spoons are a good approach for bass holding in deep water. Vary your retrieve speed and action to find what the bass like today!

Smallmouth Bass Fishing In Illinois

Smallmouth Bass

While smallmouth bass don't grow as large as their cousin the largemouth, they make up the difference with tenacious fights. Known for long battles and spectacular jumps, smallies grow fat and strong but rarely exceed ten pounds. Their range and locations are often with or nearby the largemouths. The state record smallmouth bass is over 6 pounds.

Spotted Bass Fishing In Illinois

Illinois Spotted Bass

Another bass species that can be found in Illinois is the spotted bass (Micropterus punctulatus). Although not as prevalent as largemouth and smallmouth bass, spotted bass can be found in select waters, particularly in southern Illinois. These fish exhibit characteristics similar to both largemouth and smallmouth bass, offering a unique angling experience for those who pursue them. Anglers targeting spotted bass in Illinois can expect spirited fights and the opportunity to catch a lesser-known bass species.

Whether it's the largemouth, smallmouth, or spotted bass, Illinois offers ample opportunities for anglers to test their skills and enjoy the thrill of bass fishing. From large reservoirs and rivers to secluded ponds and streams, the state's diverse waterways provide a range of habitats for these prized game fish. Anglers can employ various techniques such as casting with lures, flipping and pitching, and topwater fishing to entice strikes from these elusive and exciting bass species. With its abundance of bass fisheries and scenic landscapes, Illinois truly is a bass angler's paradise.

Best Bass Fishing Lakes In Illinois

Bass reside in ponds, creeks, rivers, streams, small lakes and large impoundments across the state. Bass lakes in Illinois. Some of the larger lakes with healthy populations of bass include Anderson Lake, Carlyle Lake, Cedar Lake, Clinton Lake, Coffeen Lake, Crab Orchard Lake, Devils Kitchen Lake, East Fork Lake, Evergreen Lake, Fox Chain O' Lakes, Governor Bond Lake, Heidecke Lake, Kinkaid Lake, Lake Carroll, Lake Decatur, Lake Lou Yeager, Lake Mattoon, Lake Michigan, Lake Of Egypt, Lake Shelbyville, Lake Springfield, Lake Taylorville, Little Grassy Lake, Newton Lake, Otter Lake, Rend Lake and Sangchris Lake.

Fishing Boats For Rent In IL

Bass In Illinois

Largemouth Bass

Largemouth bass

World record: 22 lbs 4 oz

State Record: 13 lbs 1 oz

Smallmouth Bass

Smallmouth bass

World record: 11 lbs 15 oz

State Record: 6 lbs 7 oz

Spotted Bass

Spotted bass

World record: 9 lbs 8 oz

State Record: 7 lbs 3.12 oz

Click the images and links above for species details.

Top 5 bass fishing lures for Illinois this year

When bass are shallow, spinnerbaits, crankbaits and stickbaits are the most productive. As they move deeper, worms and jigs are among the top producers.

Illinois State Record Bass

The state record largemouth bass was caught in Stone Quarry Lake.

The state record smallmouth came from a strip mine lake.

The state record spotted bass came out of a strip mine lake.

Smallmouth Bass


Brennan Kirby shows off a nice 7lb smallmouth.

Bass fishin

Understanding the primary seasonal movements of smallmouth bass and largemouth bass is key to locating them on local lakes in the Prairie State.

Bass fishing book

Catch big bass!


Bass fishing information by state.

AL Bass Fishing AR Bass Fishing AZ Bass Fishing CA Bass Fishing CO Bass Fishing CT Bass Fishing DC Bass Fishing DE Bass Fishing FL Bass Fishing GA Bass Fishing HI Bass Fishing IA Bass Fishing ID Bass Fishing
IL Bass Fishing IN Bass Fishing KS Bass Fishing KY Bass Fishing LA Bass Fishing MA Bass Fishing MD Bass Fishing ME Bass Fishing MI Bass Fishing MN Bass Fishing MO Bass Fishing MS Bass Fishing MT Bass Fishing
NC Bass Fishing ND Bass Fishing NE Bass Fishing NH Bass Fishing NJ Bass Fishing NM Bass Fishing NV Bass Fishing NY Bass Fishing OH Bass Fishing OK Bass Fishing OR Bass Fishing PA Bass Fishing
RI Bass Fishing SC Bass Fishing SD Bass Fishing TN Bass Fishing TX Bass Fishing UT Bass Fishing VA Bass Fishing VT Bass Fishing WA Bass Fishing WI Bass Fishing WV Bass Fishing WY Fishing


The lifecycle of bass

The more you know about the seasonal migration of bass, the more likely you are to be looking in the right area next time you visit Illinois bass fishing lakes. Visit the bass fishing page for more in-depth information about bass activities.