The Best Fishing Lakes In Illinois
Top places to fish for bass, catfish, crappie and more in IL.
Clinton Lake, Crab Orchard Lake, Fox Chain O' Lakes, Kinkaid Lake, Lake Decatur, Lake Shelbyville, Rend Lake and Sangchris Lake are among the most popular places for fishing in Illinois, offering anglers the chance to pursue a variety of fish species, some offer ice fishing when the ice is safe in winter. The Fishing Boat Rental Page lists options for fishing boat rentals at some of these lakes.
Illinois is home to a wide range of fishing lakes, offering diverse opportunities for anglers to pursue their favorite fish species. The state features both warm water lakes and cold water lakes, each providing unique fishing experiences.
Warm water lakes in Illinois are known for their abundance of popular game fish species such as largemouth bass, smallmouth bass, bluegill, crappie, and catfish. These lakes, characterized by their higher water temperatures during the summer months, provide ideal conditions for warm water fish to thrive. Anglers can target bass using various techniques like casting with lures or live bait, while bluegill and crappie are often caught using small jigs or live bait presentations. Catfish can be caught using stinkbaits, cut bait, or nightcrawlers. Warm water lakes in Illinois offer ample opportunities for anglers seeking a variety of game fish and exciting angling adventures.
Cold water lakes, on the other hand, are known for their cooler temperatures, making them ideal habitats for cold water species like trout and salmon. These lakes are typically stocked with these prized game fish, offering anglers the chance to reel in some impressive catches. Popular cold water lakes in Illinois include Lake Michigan and its tributaries, where anglers can target species like chinook salmon, coho salmon, steelhead trout, and brown trout. Cold water lakes provide thrilling fishing experiences, with anglers often using techniques such as trolling with spoons, spinners, or fishing with bait like spawn sacs or flies.
In addition to warm water and cold water lakes, Illinois boasts an array of species that can be targeted across its various fishing lakes. These include bass (both largemouth and smallmouth), crappie, bluegill, catfish (such as channel catfish and flathead catfish), walleye, muskie, northern pike, trout (including rainbow trout and brown trout), salmon (such as chinook and coho salmon), and more. Anglers can tailor their fishing trips to target specific species depending on their preferences and the lake they choose to fish.
With its abundant lakes and diverse fish species, Illinois offers a wealth of fishing opportunities for anglers of all skill levels. Whether you're seeking the thrill of catching bass, the challenge of targeting trout, or the excitement of reeling in a trophy-sized catfish, the fishing lakes of Illinois provide a vast playground for anglers to explore and enjoy.
Carlyle Lake, Cedar Lake, Clinton Lake, Coffeen Lake, Crab Orchard Lake, East Fork Lake, Fox Chain O' Lakes, Heidecke Lake, Kinkaid Lake, Lake Michigan, Lake Of Egypt, Lake Shelbyville, Lake Springfield, Little Grassy Lake and Rend Lake are considered the best options for largemouth, smallmouth and spotted bass. More...
Carlyle Lake, Clinton Lake, Crab Orchard Lake, Fox Chain O' Lakes, Heidecke Lake, Kinkaid Lake, Lake Shelbyville, Lake Springfield, Newton Lake, Rend Lake and Sangchris Lake are favorite options for channel, blue and flathead catfish. More...
Clinton Lake, Crab Orchard Lake, East Fork Lake, Evergreen Lake, Fox Chain O' Lakes, Kinkaid Lake, Lake Decatur, Lake Lou Yeager, Lake Mattoon, Lake Of Egypt, Lake Shelbyville, Lake Springfield, Rend Lake and Sangchris Lake are the most popular for black and white crappie. More...
Sunfish & Panfish Lakes
Anderson Lake, Carlyle Lake, Cedar Lake, Clinton Lake, Coffeen Lake, Crab Orchard Lake, Devils Kitchen Lake, Fox Chain O' Lakes, Lake Decatur, Lake Of Egypt, Lake Shelbyville, Lake Springfield, Little Grassy Lake, Pistakee Lake, Rend Lake and Sangchris Lake are popular spots to fish for bluegill, bream, perch and other sunfish. More...
Walleye, Sauger & Saugeye Lakes
Crab Orchard Lake, East Fork Lake, Evergreen Lake, Fox Chain O' Lakes, Heidecke Lake, Kinkaid Lake, Lake Decatur, Lake Mattoon, Lake Of Egypt, Lake Shelbyville, Lake Taylorville and Sangchris Lake are considered amongst the top lakes for walleye fishing. More...
Striped Bass Lakes
Visit the Illinois fishing page for links to information covering a wide variety of fish species and destinations in the state. Visit the Illinois map to identify your best route to these top fishing locations. Look to our sister site for additional information about boating in IL at many of the most popular destinations in the state.
Best Destinations By State.