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Panfish Fishing Options In Illinois

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Guide to fishing for panfish in IL lakes and ponds.

By AA-Fishing Staff Writers

Illinois Fishing Lakes

Throughout the state of Illinois you can find waters with populations of sunfish, including bluegill, green sunfish, hybrid sunfish, redear sunfish, rock bass, warmouth, white bass, yellow bass and yellow perch. Ice fishing for perch and sunfish is popular, and a great way to introduce kids to fishing.

The purpose of this page is to share basic information about panfish fishing and identify popular sunfish fishing waters in the state. Illinois is a prime destination for panfish fishing, with a variety of species that offer enjoyable angling experiences for both experienced anglers and beginners. Sunfish, including bluegill, redear sunfish, and green sunfish, are among the most common panfish targeted by anglers in Illinois.

Bluegill Fishing Basics Video

The core principles shown in this video will work for most sunfish, perch and other panfish.

Bluegill, often referred to as the "bream," is a popular panfish species found in abundance throughout Illinois. These fish are known for their vibrant colors, feisty nature, and willingness to bite. Bluegill can be caught using various techniques such as using small jigs, live bait, or even flies. They are typically found in lakes, ponds, and slow-moving rivers, making them easily accessible to anglers of all ages.

Redear sunfish, also known as shellcrackers, are another prized panfish species in Illinois. These fish have a reputation for their larger size and fighting ability. Redear sunfish can be found in lakes and ponds with sandy or gravelly bottoms, and they are often targeted using small jigs or worms. Anglers enjoy the challenge of hooking into these beautiful fish and appreciate their delicious fillets.

Green sunfish, although smaller in size compared to bluegill and redear sunfish, provide exciting angling experiences. These aggressive panfish are known for their voracious appetites and their willingness to strike at a wide range of baits and lures. Green sunfish can be found in similar habitats as bluegill and are often caught using small jigs, live bait, or even small spinners.

Perch, including yellow perch, are another species that fall under the panfish category and are found in some Illinois waters. Although not as abundant as other panfish species, perch offer anglers a different angling experience. These fish are often targeted using small jigs tipped with live bait or small artificial lures. Perch can be found in lakes and rivers, particularly in northern Illinois.

Panfish fishing in Illinois is an excellent opportunity for youth fishing, providing an engaging and educational experience for young anglers. The accessible nature of panfish species, their willingness to bite, and the abundance of panfish lakes and ponds make it an ideal activity for children. Panfish fishing offers a chance for kids to learn the basics of fishing, including casting, reeling, and handling fish, while instilling a love for the outdoors and conservation.

Whether it's the excitement of hooking into a bluegill, the challenge of landing a redear sunfish, or the thrill of catching a green sunfish, Illinois panfish fishing offers a diverse range of species and angling experiences. With its numerous lakes, ponds, and rivers, the state provides ample opportunities for anglers to enjoy the thrill of panfish fishing while creating lasting memories.

Fishing Boats For Rent In IL

Panfish & Perch Fishing Lakes

While you can find panfish in virtually all fishing waters in the state, the most consistent stringers tend to come from larger lakes including Anderson Lake, Carlyle Lake, Cedar Lake, Clinton Lake, Coffeen Lake, Crab Orchard Lake, Devils Kitchen 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, Pistakee Lake and Rend Lake. Smaller waters, and especially private ponds, may serve up an occasional monster on occasion.

Top Producing Panfish Lures & Bait

Check out the top producing lures and bait for bluegill, redear sunfish, rock bass and warmouth, as well as other smaller sunfish. Click here for the best lures for white bass, yellow bass, white perch and yellow perch.

Panfish, sunfish and perch



World record: 4 lbs 12 oz

State Record: 3 lbs 8 oz

Green Sunfish

Green sunfish

World record: 2.2 lbs

State Record: 2 lbs 1 oz

Hybrid Sunfish

Hybrid sunfish

World record: N/A

State Record: 2 lbs 4.48 oz

Redear Sunfish

Redear sunfish

World record: 5.4 lbs

State Record: 2 lbs 12.3 oz

Rock Bass

Rock bass

World record: 3.0 lbs

State Record: 1 lbs 10 oz



World record: 2.4 lbs

State Record: 1 lbs 13 oz

White Bass

White Bass

World record: 6.8 lbs

State Record: 4 lbs 14 oz

Yellow Bass

Yellow bass

World record: 2 lbs 15 oz

State Record: 2 lbs 0 oz

Yellow Perch

Yellow perch

World record: 4 lbs 3 oz

State Record: 2 lbs 8.75 oz

Click the images and links above for species details.

Illinois State Record Sunfish

The state record bluegill was caught from a private pond.

The state record green sunfish came from a private pond.

The state record hybrid sunfish came from a private pond.

The state record redear sunfish came out of Marion CC Lake.

The state record rockbass was caught in Aux Sable Creek .

The state record warmouth came out of a private pond.

The state record white bass came from the Kaskaskia River .

The state record yellow bass was taken from a private pond.

The state record yellow perch was caught from Arrowhead Club Lake.

One or more species of sunfish populate virtually all warm water streams, ponds and lakes throughout Illinois, and around the world for that matter. They can survive in waters that provide their natural food source of minnows, insects, crustaceans and worms. Their competitive nature amongst themselves, for food, makes them relatively easy to catch.

Panfish are prolific spawners and repopulate the waters as fast as they are harvested. A common problem with panfish fishing is that the waters are under-fished causing panfish to overpopulate. As a result they tend to stay small in size due to lack of food source.

The term "panfish" comprises many species, each called by a variety of names. The bluegill tops the list and is the most common.


Sunfish information in other states.

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

Learn the lifecycle of a panfish

There is a host of panfish anglers can pursue. Visit the panfish fishing page for details on many of these sunfish you might encounter in Illinois fishing waters.