Guide To Great Fishing In Illinois
All about fishing in the Prairie State
Illinois is a haven for fishing enthusiasts, offering a wide variety of fish species to target across its diverse fisheries. Whether you prefer warm water or cold water fishing, or if you enjoy the serenity of fishing in ponds, lakes, or rivers, Illinois has something to offer every angler.
Warm water fisheries in Illinois are abundant and provide opportunities to target popular game fish such as bass, catfish, crappie, bluegill, and sunfish. Anglers can enjoy casting for largemouth and smallmouth bass, testing their skills and enjoying the thrill of reeling in these powerful fighters. Catfish, including channel catfish and flathead catfish, are also highly sought after in warm water fisheries. Crappie, bluegill, and sunfish provide enjoyable angling experiences for anglers of all skill levels, with many lakes and ponds boasting healthy populations of these panfish species.
Cold water fisheries in Illinois are renowned for their trout and salmon populations. Lake Michigan and its tributaries offer incredible opportunities to target species like chinook salmon, coho salmon, steelhead trout, and brown trout. Anglers can enjoy the challenge of trolling or casting for these migratory species, and the thrill of landing a trophy-sized fish. Cold water fisheries provide a unique angling experience and attract anglers from far and wide seeking the excitement of battling these powerful fish.
Ponds, lakes, and rivers in Illinois offer diverse fishing experiences. Ponds are often easily accessible and provide opportunities for anglers to catch a variety of species, including bass, catfish, bluegill, and crappie. Lakes, both natural and man-made, offer larger bodies of water with a greater variety of fish species. These lakes often feature boat ramps, fishing piers, and other amenities to enhance the angling experience. Rivers in Illinois, such as the Illinois River and the Fox River, offer opportunities for both warm water and cold water fishing. Anglers can target a range of species in these flowing waters, including bass, catfish, walleye, and more.
Whether you prefer the peacefulness of fishing in a secluded pond, the vastness of a lake, or the flowing currents of a river, Illinois provides abundant fishing opportunities. Anglers can explore the state's diverse fisheries and target a variety of fish species, from prized game fish to panfish and everything in between. With its wealth of warm water and cold water fisheries, along with its ponds, lakes, and rivers, Illinois offers an angling paradise for all fishing enthusiasts.
Illinois fishing can be divided into two general areas - Lake Michigan and the rest of the state. On these pages we'll concentrate on the major lakes throughout Illinois. There are also many streams and rivers which offer additional fishing opportunities.
Here, you can fish for largemouth bass, smallmouth bass, spotted bass, channel catfish, flathead catfish, blue catfish, black crappie, white crappie, walleye, rainbow trout, brook trout, brown trout, bluegill, green sunfish, hybrid sunfish, redear sunfish, rock bass, warmouth, white bass, yellow bass, yellow perch, Atlantic salmon, coho salmon, stripers, bowfin, muskie, northern pike, sauger, saugeye and spotted gar in local lakes, rivers, ponds and/or streams.
Major Illinois Lakes & Species
Lake & Fish Chart
This chart shows the major angling destinations, cross referencing these waters with the major species to be found in each of the lakes or impoundments. Many of these lakes offer fishing boats for rent.
For a detailed list of primary fish species in IL, plus state fish records, see the list below.
Fishing lake sizes and locations in the state.
Anderson Lake is a 1,130-acre, freshwater lake located in the west-central part of IL, 5 miles southwest of Havana.
Carlyle Lake is a 26,000-acre reservoir in the south-central part of the state, at Carlyle.
Cedar Lake is a 1,750-acre reservoir at the southern tip of IL, 5 miles southwest of Carbondale.
Clinton Lake is a 4,900-acre lake in the east-central part of the state, 2 miles east of Clinton.
Coffeen Lake is a 1,070-acre lake in the central part of the state, at the town of Coffeen.
Crab Orchard Lake is a 6,900-acre lake in the southern part of the state, 3 miles east of Carbondale.
Devils Kitchen Lake is an 810-acre reservoir at the southern tip of IL, 8 miles southeast of Carbondale.
East Fork Lake is a 934-acre lake in the southeast part of the state at Olney.
Evergreen Lake is a 925-acre reservoir in the central part of the state, 5 miles north of Bloomington.
Fox Chain O' Lakes comprises 990 acres in the northeast corner of the state, at Fox Lake.
Governor Bond Lake is a 760-acre reservoir in south-central IL, 2 miles north of Greenville.
Heidecke Lake is a 2,000-acre lake in the northeast part of the state, 2 miles east of Morris.
Kinkaid Lake is a 2,700-acre lake in the southern part of the state, 5 miles northwest of Murphysboro.
Lake Carroll is a 630-acre reservoir in the northwest corner of the state, 2 miles north of Georgetown.
Lake Decatur is a 2,800-acre reservoir located in the central part of IL, in the city of Decatur.
Lake Lou Yeager is a 1,300-acre lake in the central part of the state, 2 miles northeast of Litchfield.
Lake Mattoon is a 1,050-acre reservoir in central IL, 10 miles north of Effingham.
Lake Michigan is a 22,300 square mile body of water at the northeast corner of Illinois.
Lake Of Egypt is a 2,300-acre lake in the southern part of the state, 3 miles northeast of Goreville.
Lake Shelbyville is an 11,000-acre lake in the east-central part of the state, at Shelbyville.
Lake Springfield is a 3,850-acre lake in the central part of the state, on the southern outskirts of Springfield.
Lake Taylorville is a 1,300-acre lake in the central part of the state, 2 miles southeast of Taylorville.
Little Grassy Lake is a 1,200-acre reservoir at the southern tip of IL, 5 miles south of Carbondale.
Newton Lake is a 1,700-acre lake in the southeast part of the state, 3 miles north of Ingraham.
Otter Lake is a 765-acre reservoir in west-central IL, 25 miles southwest of Springfield.
Pistakee Lake is a 1,700-acre lake in northeast IL, at Pistakee Highlands.
Rend Lake is a 19,000-acre lake in the southern part of the state, at Whittington.
Sangchris Lake is a 2,300-acre lake in the central part of the state, 3 miles west of Edinburg.
Fish Species & State Records in Illinois
World record: 22 lbs 4 oz
State Record: 13 lbs 1 oz
World record: 11 lbs 15 oz
State Record: 6 lbs 7 oz
World record: 9 lbs 8 oz
State Record: 7 lbs 3.12 oz
World record: 58 lbs 0 oz
State Record: 45 lbs 4 oz
World record: 123 lbs 9 oz
State Record: 78 lbs 0 oz
World record: 143 lbs 0 oz
State Record: 124 lbs 4 oz
World record: 6 lbs 0 oz
State Record: 4 lbs 8 oz
World record: 5 lbs 3 oz
State Record: 4 lbs 7 oz
World record: 25 lbs 0 oz
State Record: 15 lbs 1 oz
World record: 17 lbs 7 oz
State Record: 5 lbs 12 oz
World record: 15 lbs 6 oz
State Record: 9 lbs 10.88 oz
World record: 4 lbs 12 oz
State Record: 3 lbs 8 oz
World record: 2.2 lbs
State Record: 2 lbs 1 oz
World record: N/A
State Record: 2 lbs 4.48 oz
World record: 5.4 lbs
State Record: 2 lbs 12.3 oz
World record: 3.0 lbs
State Record: 1 lbs 10 oz
World record: 2.4 lbs
State Record: 1 lbs 13 oz
World record: 6.8 lbs
State Record: 4 lbs 14 oz
World record: 2 lbs 15 oz
State Record: 2 lbs 0 oz
World record: 4 lbs 3 oz
State Record: 2 lbs 8.75 oz
World record: 42 lbs 2 oz
State Record: 31 lbs 6.72 oz
World record: 14 lbs 8 oz
State Record: 7 lbs 5 oz
World record: 40 lbs 4 oz
State Record: 36 lbs 11.5 oz
World record: 72 lbs 0 oz
State Record: 38 lbs 4 oz
World record: 79 lbs 2 oz
State Record: 18 lbs 11.25 oz
World record: 97 lbs 4 oz
State Record: 37 lbs 0 oz
World record: 33 lbs 7 oz
State Record: 20 lbs 9 oz
World record: 81 lbs 14 oz
State Record: 31 lbs 7 oz
U.S. record: 27 lbs 5 oz
State Record: 21 lbs .32 oz
World record: 21 lbs 8 oz
State Record: 16 lbs 6 oz
World record: 69 lbs 9 oz
State Record: 38 lbs 8 oz
World record: 55 lbs 1 oz
State Record: 26 lbs 15 oz
World record: 9 lbs 12 oz
State Record: 7 lbs 13.44 oz
Click the images and links above for species details.
Visit the Illinois Department of Natural Resources website for regulations and details about fishing in Illinois.
Apply here for an Illinois Fishing License.
Enhance your fishing vacation by renting a cabin in Illinois. Another great way to see the state with opportunities for fishing, away from the crowds is by taking a motorhome into backwoods fishing areas.
Visit the section dedicated to activities for kids in Illinois. It is devoted to information about kids fishing with stories, fish photos and tips for where and how to take a kid fishing in Illinois. Please send us your recommendations and we will be happy to consider them for publication.
Fishing in all states