Fishing in Illinois

Last updated on July 2nd, 2021 at 11:33 pm. Originally published on June 30th, 2021

Illinois is a beautiful state with exciting cities to visit, like Chicago, Springfield, and Joliet. However, the natural beauty of the state becomes even more apparent when you start exploring the rural areas. A great way to do that is by going fishing in Illinois. Of course, check the state regulations and get your license first, but you can find good fishing spots in many Illinois locations. 

A calm lake reflects fluffy clouds and the surrounding green forest.

Fishing Spots in Illinois

Rend Lake

Rend Lake near Mt. Vernon is a terrific place to go bluegill fishing, but there are over 35 other species in this lake, so you can catch almost any fish you want. If you want to catch 6- to 8-inch bluegill from shore, head to Sailboat Harbor and along the Mine 21 Road. Try fishing with crickets, small jigs, or real or artificial worms at half the water’s depth. 

Illinois River

Depending on the time of the year, you can catch white bass, rainbow trout, smallmouth bass, and buffalo fish in the Illinois River. This river runs for 273 miles through Central Illinois before it empties into the Mississippi River. Anglers routinely take channel catfish, bluegill, black crappie, bullheads, largemouth bass, sauger, walleye, and white bass out of the water. Over 20 fishing tournaments are held annually along its river, with boaters using Havana Landing, Lacon Municipal Harbor, Henry Public Boat Ramp, and Hennepin Village Public Ramp to start some of them. 

Lake Michigan

You can go fishing in Lake Michigan from Chicago’s 11 harbors. Common carp along with large- and smallmouth bass are the most common species caught. In all, this lake has over 1,600 miles of fishable shoreline. In addition to Chicago’s harbors, you can find terrific shoreline fishing near Waukegan, Wilmette, Winnetka, and Winthrop Harbor. 

Crab Orchard Lake

Crab Orchard Lake near Carbondale is a fantastic spot to fish for bass, crappie, bluegill and sunfish. The real stars of this lake are the catfish that are some of the biggest you will find in Southern Illinois. While there are fantastic places to fish under tall shade trees, the best way to fish this lake is by boat, and rentals are available. There is a full-service marina if you need to buy supplies. 

Powerton Lake

Powerton Lake is a 1,426-acre lake built on the floodplain of the Illinois River south of Perkin. This lake is a great place to go fishing for smallmouth bass and channel catfish. Catch the biggest fish by fishing the warmest waters at this lake. This is particularly a great place to catch smallmouth bass in April using crankbait in a Bomber A crawdad pattern. 

Evergreen Lake

Evergreen Lake near Hudson is an ideal place to go fishing for muskies, especially in June. Anglers can also catch rock bass, catfish, carp, saugeye, walleye, and other varieties of fish in this lake. There is a great county park at the north end of this lake. This lake can be fished with spinner rods or by fly fishing. 

Mississippi River

The Mississippi River runs along the western side of Illinois. One of the best places to fish along the Mississippi in Illinois is near Savanna. Follow the fish into backwaters and fish for walleye within one mile of the dam in the spring. During the summer, fish for bass, crappie, and bluegill near deadwood surrounded by weeds. As the weather begins to cool, fish for bass along sharp breaks or current edges. Finally, in the winter, fish for walleye and saugeye in areas of the river that are not frozen over. 

Shabbona Lake

Shabbona Lake near Shabbona is a great place to go muskie fishing. Usually, the best fishing is found during September immediately following the second cold snap of the winter. There is a two-boat ramp available along with boats to rent. You’ll find a full-service marina at this 304-acre lake. There are also 6.5 miles of shoreline for those who prefer fishing from land. 

Where to Fish in Illinois

You can find great fishing spots all across Illinois. In the northern part of the state, anglers enjoy easy access to Lake Michigan and its nearby lakes. Throughout most of the eastern part of the state, anglers can enjoy fishing in streams and rivers located in forests. The southern part of the state is a great place to go fishing on the Ohio River and its tributaries. Finally, the western part of the state is dominated by the Mississippi River and its tributaries, which always makes for exciting fishing conditions. 

Camping and Fishing in Illinois

One of the keys to a successful Illinois fishing trip is to know what species are most likely to bite at particular times of the year. The late winter and early springtime are great times for bluegills and saugers. Spring is a great time to catch largemouth bass and walleyes. As summer arrives, switch to fishing for catfish, perch, and white bass. Then, as the weather cools again, the walleye and muskie fishing picks up. 

Your RV will have some sort of refrigerator, but it’s a good idea to bring a cooler with ice with you when you’re fishing so that you have somewhere to store your catches until you get back to your RV. Before you head out on your fishing and camping in Illinois trip, check out our blog for all you need to know about fishing.

With an RV rental, your fishing trip will be a little more comfortable! After you’ve spent a long day fishing, grill up your catch right at your campsite. Then, retire inside to enjoy all the comforts of home on board your RV. Plan your perfect fishing getaway with an RV rental from RVshare.

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