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The Best Fishing Spots For Catfish In Illinois

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Guide to fishing for flathead, blue and channel catfish in IL.

By AA-Fishing Staff Writers

Catfish fishing in Illinois

There are many species of catfish and even more ways to catch them. Adults range in size from less than a pound to hundreds of pounds. Catfish are found in all types of water including ponds, streams, lakes and rivers throughout Illinois. Giant catfish put up a very noble fight once hooked.

Illinois is a great destination for catfish fishing, offering anglers the opportunity to target various catfish species and enjoy thrilling battles with these formidable fish. Among the catfish species found in Illinois, the channel catfish (Ictalurus punctatus) is one of the most sought-after. These fish can be found in rivers, lakes, and ponds throughout the state. The purpose of this page is to share basic information about catfish fishing and catfish waters in the state.

Catfish Fishing Video

Channel catfish are known for their voracious appetite and are often caught using a variety of baits such as stinkbaits, nightcrawlers, and cut bait. Anglers targeting channel catfish in Illinois can expect strong fights and the chance to reel in some impressive specimens.

Flathead catfish (Pylodictis olivaris) are another popular species for catfish enthusiasts in Illinois. These fish are known for their size and strength, making them a prized catch. Flathead catfish are typically found in larger rivers and reservoirs with ample cover, such as fallen trees and submerged structures. Anglers targeting flathead catfish often use live bait such as small fish or large nightcrawlers to entice these predators. Hooking into a big flathead catfish can provide an exhilarating angling experience and the opportunity to land a trophy fish.

Blue catfish (Ictalurus furcatus) are also present in some Illinois waters, particularly in larger rivers. These fish are known for their size and fighting ability, making them highly sought after by dedicated catfish anglers. Blue catfish can reach impressive weights in Illinois waters, offering a true challenge to anglers seeking a memorable catch. Live bait such as large shad or cut bait is commonly used to target blue catfish, with deep holes and areas of current often yielding the best results.

Whether it's channel catfish, flathead catfish, or blue catfish, Illinois offers a wealth of opportunities for catfish anglers. The state's diverse river systems, lakes, and reservoirs provide ample habitats for these prized fish. Anglers can target catfish from the shore or enjoy the convenience of a boat to explore and fish these productive waters. With its abundance of catfish fisheries and a reputation for producing trophy-sized fish, Illinois is truly a catfish angler's paradise.

Catfish Fishing Lakes in Illinois

Most waters in Illinois have a population of one kind of catfish or another. Rivers often yield monster catfish while the more consistent stringers come from major lakes and reservoirs like Anderson Lake, Carlyle Lake, Cedar Lake, Crab Orchard Lake, Fox Chain O' Lakes, Governor Bond Lake, Heidecke Lake, Kinkaid Lake, Lake Carroll, Lake Decatur, Lake Lou Yeager, Lake Mattoon, Lake Shelbyville, Lake Springfield, Lake Taylorville, Newton Lake, Otter Lake, Rend Lake and Sangchris Lake.

Fishing Boats For Rent In IL

Catfish in Illinois

Channel Catfish

Channel catfish

World record: 58 lbs 0 oz

State Record: 45 lbs 4 oz

Flathead Catfish

Flathead catfish

World record: 123 lbs 9 oz

State Record: 78 lbs 0 oz

Blue Catfish

Blue catfish

World record: 143 lbs 0 oz

State Record: 124 lbs 4 oz

Click the images and links above for species details.

What's the best bait for catfish in Illinois?

Choose from the top 5 all-time catfish baits and try them on local waters. Appealing to the keen sense of smell and taste could turn a so-so day into a memorable event.

The state record channel catfish was caught from Baldwin Lake.

The state record flathead catfish came from Carlyle Lake.

The state record blue catfish came out of the Mississippi River.

Most catfish are considered bottom feeders to one extent or another. They will generally eat anything that can get in their mouth. Their strongest sense is smell which they use to locate potential food sources. Capitalizing on this sense is the primary weapon in your search for these creatures. Aggressive catfish have been caught on most types of fast moving bass lures so don't under estimate their ability to catch live bait.

Additional catfishing information resources.

Catfish Conservation Group

U.S. Catfish Anglers Tournaments

Planet Catfish


Information for states with catfish.

AL Catfish Fishing AR Catfish Fishing AZ Catfish Fishing CA Catfish Fishing CO Catfish Fishing CT Catfish Fishing DE Catfish Fishing FL Catfish Fishing GA Catfish Fishing HI Catfish Fishing IA Catfish Fishing ID Catfish Fishing IL Catfish Fishing
IN Catfish Fishing KS Catfish Fishing KY Catfish Fishing LA Catfish Fishing MA Catfish Fishing MD Catfish Fishing ME Catfish Fishing MI Catfish Fishing MN Catfish Fishing MO Catfish Fishing MS Catfish Fishing MT Catfish Fishing
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