Northern Illinois Ice Fishing 2020-2021

Northern Illinois Ice Fishing information, tips, safety and tricks to better ice fishing. Hiring an ice fishing guide to take you ice fishing for the first few times will be worth it’s weight in gold!

Northern Illinois Ice Fishing Site Specific Regulations

Ice fish at your own risk. If you are fishing Northern Illinois waters, it is always best to take an experienced ice angler or ice fishing guide. Northern Illinois ice comes in weak and late. But, Ice fishing guides would know best waters to fish and their conditions for new ice anglers. Poor ice means faults and weak spots. Poor ice means you will face bigger dangers. Examples are springs, hidden current and ice openings exist. Because of this, danger exists more to new anglers. Take precautions, grab an ice fishing guide.

Northern Illinois Ice Fishing Waters

Ice fishing hours are sunrise to sunset, unless noted otherwise. So, always check your local regulations and postings. Observe all signs and closures. Check bulletin boards on local lakes, ponds and do not venture onto ice you are unfamiliar with!! If you don’t understand ice fishing safety – you shouldn’t be out there.

Safety Gear for Northern Illinois Ice Fishing
Ice fishing safety gear includes ice cleats, ice spikes, spud bars, rope and a buddy! Fishing alone is dangerous and should be avoided. Safety in numbers is always advised. That said, It is important to venture out with others on the ice. Other ice fishing safety gear includes flotation suits – life vests which will keep you afloat should you fall through. People die ice fishing. So, emphasis on safety is up top of this article for a reason. I have an experienced ice fisher who fished competitions for many years. He lost his friend after an ice accident. Even after rescue in an ice accident – danger exists the day after going through. Hypothermia can kill someone even after being rescued! Again, have that experienced ice fishing guide. Doing so, will keep you the safest.

Northern Illinois Ice Fishing Catch Photo and Release

Our local waters need your help. Having larger sized fish for us, means we all should let a champion go free. Take a picture of the largest catch and be rewarded by letting it swim free to be caught again. Release that big fish. Because, you will preserve the superior genes of that bigger fish. A chunky bluegill, a beefy walleye or a beastie of a northern pike. preserving these large fish improves the water you frequent.

Improve Your Own Lakes – Northern Illinois Ice Fishing Tip

These are YOUR LAKES. So, protect larger fish because they form a healthy ecosystem. When you put a large specimen back in its water, you improve the waters. Big fish help with predation of smaller fish. This cuts down on overpopulation and will make all the fish in the lake bigger. Big fish do make more big fish! Releasing a larger fish of any species improves the lake’s genetic. Big fish provide breeding genetics to the next generation of fish – and anglers. Again, it is YOUR WATER. Your adventure can be complete with a nice picture.

Harvest some smaller fish and saving that one gem is the way to go if you do choose to take fish home. Thinking about releasing a fish? So, do it quickly. Be Careful. Handle the fish as little as possible for the photo. A big reward is having the fish swim away. And, you literally will catch that fish again as a trophy in a later adventure.

No Ice Fishing Allowed!

There is no Ice fishing at Chicago lagoons. There is no ice fishing at the Forest Preserve District of Kendall County, Forest Preserve District of Will County and Kankakee River Valley Forest Preserve Districts. 

These preserve waters employ aerators and have dangerous areas you do not want to mess with. As a result, honor these rules for safety. Avoid costly tickets (or loss of your life).

Ice Fishing Chicago Harbors

You can ice fish the Chicago Harbors. Check ice conditions before you head out. Because, ice safety can change overnight. There is current beneath this ice. The harbors contain large pipes at the ends of the harbor to allow for water flow. Avoid going onto Chicago Harbors if you are a first-timer and there is no one out there. There are different entrances to these spots and working with an experienced angler is best.

Harder Ice Fishing

Chicago harbors also are not the easiest to ice fish. Because of the current and depth, these can be tricky. Harbors can be 21′ deep in many spots with a slight current. These harbors are connected to the giant Lake Michigan. Fish migrate in and out of the harbors. That said – these harbors can fish well at times. Big lake fishing means you may have to pay your dues and some days will be far less productive than inland lakes. Risk-reward with fishing the big lake. Pay your dues with time fishing. You can be rewarded.

Ice Fishing Cook County Forest Preserves

You can Ice fish at some Cook County Forest Preserve lakes. These ice fishing lakes are Arrowhead, Axehead, Beck, Belleau, Big Bend, Bode South only, Bullfrog, Busse Woods Main and South Pools, Flatfoot, Green, Horsetail, Ida, Maple, Papoose, Powderhorn, Saganashkee Slough, Sag Quarry, Tampier, Turtlehead and Wampum. 

Lakes are pressured all year long. You will have to sort through a few fish to get to bigger fish. That said, these lakes offer good adventure for ice fishing close to Chicago. They consistently fish pretty well if you know where to work. This is the time of year you can explore lakes and you get to fish the entire water. Cook County lakes are shallow waters. However, some do have depths to 30′ along with many shallow flats.

Ice Fishing Forest Preserve of Du Page County

Du Page County lakes and ponds permits Ice fishing. Du Page County does not allow ice fishing at Spring Creek Reservoir. Find one unique fishing spot for late-night fishing. Deep Quarry Lake allows late night fishing. Anglers must be out of the Deep Quarry preserve and it’s parking lot by 11 p.m. If you do plan on fishing any of the lakes. Exit when either sun down approaches or when posted! Be ready, be out.

Anglers can get tickets if their car is not out of the lot by the time the ranger shows up. Du Page County offers many opportunities for ice fishing adventures. The water quality is very good in most cases. Some Du Page lakes get heavily fished. However, they offer good populations of fish in general. Different species may be a nice surprise. Possibly, some bigger fish.

Kane County Forest Preserve Ice Fishing

Permitted only at Lake Patterson (Hampshire South FP), Oakhurst FP, two ponds within Paul Wolff Campground, and Grunwald Farms FP. 

Lake County Forest Preserve Ice Fishing

When conditions allow, ice fishing permitted 6:30 a.m. to sunset at Hastings Lake, Banana Lake, Independence Grove south bay and Lake Carina; 6:30 a.m. to one hour after sunset at Sterling Lake.

Mazonia State Fish and Wildlife Area

Monster Lake at Mazonia, South is open year-round, ice fishing and open water. Fishing, ice or open water, opens on Dec. 26 at both the North and South units.

McHenry County Conservation District

 Ice fishing at The Hollows (West Lake only). 

Silver Springs State Fish and Wildlife Area 

As a general winter rule, enter through the east entrance. This entrance will be better plowed and has less of a steep grade than the other areas.

Wolf Lake Hammond Port Authority

When conditions allow.

Thank you to Dale Bowman for providing the Northern Illinois Ice Fishing Regulations and update. The core of this article was pulled together by Mr. Bowman. I highly advise you get weekly updates for fishing, hunting and outdoors by following Dale. Dale is truly a treasure trove of outdoor information and you should be following him on Twitter or on the Sun-Times website. For more information on local fishing – be sure to check out Dale Bowman Outdoors in the Chicago Sun-Times or follow Dale on Twitter:

Fishing Outdoor Education & Montessori Programs

Bring the magic of what is happening underwater and catching fish at a local pond near you.

Students engage in our outdoor eduction and fun. We offer insights into fish, local waters and ecosystems through fishing. Your children will be immersed in pond life, identifying fish species, food chain and also fishing from colonial times to modern times.

Our unique fishing outdoor program features the safest, most-effective fishing tackle to produce the most action your children could possibly imagine. Our hands-on experience fishing of local waters near your school will be the highlight of their year.

Students will experience (depending on unit time and length):

  • Simple, Effective Fishing (that they can recreate after the class).
  • Handling Fish (if they wish)
  • Colonial – Fishing Historical Lesson
  • Insect & Worm Interaction / Identification
  • Fish Species Identification
  • Local Ecosystems & Food Chains (option)
  • Pollution & Water Tables (option)

Students will fish with tackle that features safety hooks and safety lines which greatly reduce accidental hookings, cuts and injuries – designed to break on impact for safety. They will be able to easily manage the fishing equipment and no fishing experience is necessary for them to enjoy their experience. The learning curve is the smallest of all fishing gear. We have perfected the equipment that they can enjoy and succeed with immediately.

To schedule an outdoor session, please text 630.235.2162 with your location and desired date range. We will work with you and prepare a program, costing for the session.

Chicago Fishing People

Chicago Fishing? We’re breaking all the boring and making fishing an EXTREME SPORT. 

Chicago Fishing

Why should fishing be boring – Chicago Fishing? You can find boring by going to Bass Pro Shops, buying a mountain of lures, six tackle boxes, a boat and electronics. We’re the opposite of a polo-shirt hobbyist standing in a box store – Johnny’s got the goods. (You see, just because they have a big box logo and shirt, just means they like to talk fishing).

Trained to go to a water’s edge -in one spot, Johnny has fished all over the world for different fish species. His competitions require that he is able to adjust gear, find the depth and deliver bait to catch fish. Any species that is in front of him – on the clock. In these competitions, he doesn’t get electronics, he has to stay in one spot and use one hook. Johnny does Chicago Fishing – public ponds a lot and Chicago suburban ponds.

Your Chicago Fishing Instructor

Would you like to be able to go down to the local pond or reservoir near your house and catch 20 fish without even trying too much? How would you like to tie into some 5 – 13 lb. fish on a regular basis. Get rid of the drives to exotic places. Ditch the nerds in the isles of fishing tackle stores and get ready to take some pictures, break some lines and fill some landing nets. Get ready for flying fish.

Fishing Rocks!

Chicago fishing starts here with a simple 3-session fishing class or private guided fishing that will help you lock in on lots of fish or big fish. Beginners, experts, adults, kids – all can learn (4 years old and up usually) – but we do offer toddler fishing experiences!

If you are frustrated with your Fishing experience, grab a lesson, hire Johnny for a private guided fishing session and fix it quickly. The Chicago Fishing School will help you save tons of money on junk fishing tackle and put you right on the two best rigs that work in every water in the Chicago and Northern Illinois regions as well as killing it on vacation waters of Wisconsin, Indiana, Minnesota, Michigan and Canada!

Oct. 19th Classes

F1 & F2 October 19th

Our next classes will be on Saturday, October 19th for group classes (Fishing 1 & Fishing 2 and Monster Fish). The classes will be held in Downers Grove at Patriot’s Park (Barth Pond). Fishing 1 is at 4:00 PM and F2 is at 5:30 PM.
NOTE – when registering ADD A NOTE telling us which class(es) you are registering for. Please tell us either F1, F2 (yes, space is available).

Have a Groupon? Groupons are good for Fishing 1 classes (only). Register your Groupon fishing class using the above pulldown. $1 registration charge – (you will get a free fishing tool for the registration cost.). Save 30% on your Fishing 1 class. Note this is a 3-class series. You will need to purchase Fishing 2 and Fishing 3 separately and they can be taken at any time.

Students must reserve a spot using our class registration. Discounts given for purchasing 3 or more class passes. Add a note at Checkout for which class slot

10/19 Fishing Class Passes

What you need for fishing classes. Camera or phone camera. A drink. That’s it. We provide everything you need for classes. Classes are good for beginners, experienced anglers and families including kids 6 and up.

2019 Illinois Trout & Chicago Area Trout Fishing Spots

Early Catch-and-Release Opportunity Opens October 5 at select sites*

The 2019 Illinois Fall Trout Fishing Season opens Saturday, Oct. 19 at 56 ponds, lakes, and streams throughout the state.

An early opportunity at select trout sites – the Fall Catch-and-Release Fishing Season – will open Oct. 5 at locations marked with an asterisk (*) in the list below. No trout may be kept during the catch and release fishing period, but anglers can keep trout after the opening of the regular season beginning Oct. 19. 

The Illinois catchable trout program is funded by those who use the program through the sale of Inland Trout Stamps and through the Illinois Fish Management Fund. 

The IDNR has added one new site for Fall Trout Fishing in 2019 – Kaufman Lake in Champaign – maintaining the stocking of rainbow trout to 67,000 fish in the fall season. Rock Springs Pond in Decatur will be temporarily removed from stocking due to a maintenance project at that site.

No trout may be taken from any of the stocked sites from October 1st until the fall trout season opens at 5 a.m. on October 19, 2019. Anyone attempting to take (harvest) trout before the legal harvest season opening will be issued citations. 

All anglers — including those using fly fishing gear who intend to release fish caught before October 19 — must have a valid fishing license and an Inland Trout Stamp, unless they are under the age of 16, blind or disabled, or are an Illinois resident on leave from active duty in the Armed Forces. The daily catch limit for each angler is five trout. 

Illinois fishing licenses and Inland Trout Stamps are available at DNR Direct license and permit locations, including many bait shops, sporting goods stores and other retail outlets. For a location near you, check the IDNR website at this link: .

Fishing licenses and trout stamps can also be purchased by using a credit card through DNR Direct online via the IDNR website at, or by calling DNR Direct toll-free at 1-888-6PERMIT (1-888-673-7648). 

NOTE: Not all fall trout sites open at 5 a.m. on opening day. Anglers are reminded to check the opening time of their favorite trout fishing location prior to the season. For more information about all site regulations, anglers should contact individual sites that will be stocked with catchable-size trout. 

The 57 locations that will be open for Fall Trout Fishing Season are listed below:

2019 Illinois Fall Trout Locations

(* Denotes Sites Open for Catch-and-Release Fly Fishing Early Season) 

North – Chicago Trout Fishing Spots (North Region)

  • Bureau County: Hennepin Canal Parkway 
  • Cook County: Axehead Lake, Cook County Forest Preserve District
  • Cook County: Belleau, Cook County Forest Preserve District
  • Cook County: Busse Woods North, Cook County Forest Preserve District
  • Cook County: Green Lake, Cook County Forest Preserve District
  • Cook County: Wolf Lake, William W. Powers State Recreation Area, Chicago 
  • DuPage County: Silver Lake, DuPage County Forest Preserve District 
  • Jo Daviess County: Apple River, Apple River State Park *
  • Kankakee County: Bird Park Quarry in Kankakee 
  • Kankakee County: Rock Creek at Kankakee River State Park *
  • Kendall County: Big Lake at Silver Springs State Fish and Wildlife Area 
  • Lake County: Banana Lake, Lake County Forest Preserve District 
  • Lake County: Sand Lake at Illinois Beach State Park 
  • LaSalle County: Illinois and Michigan Canal at Lock 14 Pool, LaSalle-Peru 
  • McHenry County: Spring Grove Hatchery Pond
  • Ogle County: Pine Creek, White Pines Forest State Park *
  • Rock Island County: Prospect Park, Moline 
  • Warren County: Citizen’s Lake, Monmouth
  • Whiteside County: Centennial Park Pond, Rock Falls
  • Will County: Lake Strini, Romeoville
  • Will County: Van Horn Woods, Plainfield
  • Winnebago County: Bauman Lake, Cherry Valley 


  • Adams County: Siloam Springs State Park Lake *
  • Cass County: Gridley Lake at Jim Edgar Panther Creek SFWA *
  • Champaign County: Kaufman Lake, Champaign Park District (NEW for Fall 2019)
  • Clark County: Casey Park Pond, Casey Park District 
  • Coles County: Eastern Illinois University Campus Pond, Charleston
  • DeWitt County: Weldon Springs State Park Lake 
  • Douglas County: Villa Grove West Lake
  • Hancock County: Horton Lake, Nauvoo State Park *
  • Macoupin County: Beaver Dam Lake, Beaver Dam State Park
  • McDonough County: Argyle Lake, Argyle Lake State Park 
  • Morgan County: Morgan Lake at Nichols Park, Jacksonville
  • Sangamon County: IDOT Lake, Springfield *
  • Sangamon County: Southwind Park Pond, Springfield 
  • Sangamon County: Washington Park Pond, Springfield 
  • Shelby County: Forest Park Lagoon, Shelbyville 
  • Tazewell County: Mineral Springs Park Lagoon 
  • Vermilion County: Clear Lake, Kickapoo State Recreation Area 


  • Bond County: Greenville Old City Lake
  • Crawford County: Crawford County Conservation Area Pond #6 
  • Jefferson County: Mount Vernon Game Farm Pond 
  • Johnson County: Ferne Clyffe State Park Lake
  • Madison County: Belk Park Pond, Wood River, Edwardsville Park District 
  • Madison County: Highland Old City Lake 
  • Marion County: Boston Pond, Stephen A. Forbes State Recreation Area
  • Massac County: Fairgrounds Pond, Fort Massac State Park, Metropolis 
  • Randolph County: Derby Lake, World Shooting and Recreational Complex, Sparta 
  • Randolph County: Randolph County Lake 
  • Saline County: Jones State Lake Pond 
  • St. Clair County: Frank Holten State Recreation Area Main Lake 
  • St. Clair County: Jones Park Lake, East St. Louis
  • St. Clair County: Willow Lake, Peabody River King State Fish and Wildlife Area
  • Wabash County: Beall Woods Lake, Beall Woods State Park 
  • Wayne County: Sam Dale State Fish and Wildlife Area Trout Pond 
  • Williamson County: Devil’s Kitchen Lake 

Illinois Stocked Trout Fishing Tips

  • Early crowds on opening day morning can be large!
  • Car & Foot traffic can be snarled early with lines at many locations to get in the gate
  • Some locations can even fill up if you arrive a little late. You may have to wait your turn for an opening.
  • Windy days can be tough on those who are not great at casting.
  • Many lines in the water means that you may have to cast through a narrow chute.
  • Trout fishing crowds can be tough environment for small kids.
  • Trout can school up at times, meaning they may be in one or two corners of a lake. This may mean only one group of people is catching consistently.
  • You may want to fish in “shifts” on the first two days. Spots sometimes clear out at by 9 or 10 a.m. A second wave of spots opens up at this point making it good to go mid-day.
  • Trout days are the number one day for tickets and violations. Know your regulations and have your fishing license ready! Odds are you will be checked by DNR officers.
  • Don’t leave your line in the water and walk to the bathroom. This is a violation. 50-75 feet from your line means it is unattended and this is a ticket.
  • Most waters only allow 2 lines – check your local regulations. Also on opening weekend with crowds, it can be rude to try and fish more than one!
  • Live bait out-catches Gulp or Powerbait constantly. Trout hold onto live bait longer giving you more time to catch.
  • Trout can follow the wind. Fishing with the wind in your face sometimes guarantees you more fish! More oxygen and fish follow that wind so a little uncomfortable condition for you, might mean more fish also.

Trout Fishing Tackle Tips & Baits

  • Thin lines cast further and easier. For long casts without using a lot of power, a 10 foot float rod casts better than short, stubby rods. We like the Gapen 10 (best shore trout fishing rod)

Traffic getting in and to your spot