Fishing in Illinois

Illinois Fishing at a Glance

Fishing is a popular pastime in Illinois, thanks to more than 1.6 million acres of surface water available for shing across the state. From countless lakes, ponds, rivers, and streams, you’ll have ample opportunity to reel in a big one. But before you head out to your favorite fishing spot, there are a few things you should know.

There are no residency requirements for fishing in Illinois, which means that anyone can fish in the state, regardless of where they live. All you need is a valid fishing license and you’re good to go.

As far as what kind of fish you can expect to catch, Illinois has some 196 different species of fish including bass, catfish, crappie, muskie, and walleye. The best way to find out what’s biting is to talk to the locals and see what’s working for them.

Finally, be prepared to catch a whopper: the largest fish ever caught in Illinois was a lake sturgeon in Lake Michigan which weighed 310 pounds and measured 7 feet and 11 inches!

Illinois ranks #42 in the U.S. for fishing licenses per capita and has a good number of local fishing enthusiasts with over 4.7% of the population having fishing licenses.

Table of Contents

Estimated Fishing Enthusiasts
Population: 12,812,508
Fishing Enthusiasts 601,950
Fishing License % 4.70%
Hunters Rank 42

The state of Illinois is mostly private land with just 0.0235185991933557 of acres considered public land -ranking #44 amongst all states.

Land Types (Acres)
Acres % Rank
Total 35,579,500
Public 836,780 2.35% 44
Private 34,742,720 97.65% 6
Tribal 0 0.00% no tribal land

Illinois Fishing Licenses & Requirements

For the most accurate and updated information on fishing licenses and requirements, it’s always a good idea to check the Illinois DNR. We’ve provided their contact information and other helpful information for your convenience here.

Illinois DNR

One Natural Resources Way
Springfield, IL 62702-1271

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Why limit yourself to public land when there are millions of acres of private land to explore.

What are the most popular fish to catch in Illinois?

In Illinois, the five most popular types of freshwater fish to catch are largemouth bass, bluegill, catfish, crappie, and northern pike. Largemouth bass are a popular choice for many anglers because they put up a good fight when they are hooked and can grow to be quite large. Bluegill are also a popular choice, as they are relatively easy to catch and make for a tasty meal. Catfish are another popular choice, as they can be quite large and provide a good challenge for fishermen. Crappie are also popular, as they can be caught in large numbers and make for good eating. Finally, northern pike are popular among fishermen who want a real challenge, as they are known for being difficult to catch.

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We’re working with landowners all across Illinois to provide private land access for more activities. Add your information below to stay up to date.

Fishing private lakes, ponds, rivers, and streams in Illinois

Fishing on private land in Illinois has some real advantages over public lakes, rivers, streams, and ponds *if you can get access. For instance, there’s nothing like having a quiet lake all to yourself and oftentimes there are simply more fish available to catch, because they haven’t been fished out. There are generally more processes for access private land for hunting than fishing, though some similar methods exist. For instance, you can sometimes join a fishing club in Illinois or if you have the money, it may be possible to rent some private land for fishing. Another option is to knock on doors or work your contacts in an area to see if a landowner would let you fish for the day or possibly be open to a longer term arrangement.

Fortunately Wing It is simplifying land access for fishing, hunting, camping, and more. We’re adding new land every day and if we have some in your area, you’ll see some great options below.

1. Lake Michigan
2. The Fox River
3. Lake Springfield
4. The Illinois River
5. The Kaskaskia River

Fishing private land in Illinois

Fishing on private land in Illinois has some real advantages over public lakes, rivers, streams, and ponds *if you can get access. For instance, there’s nothing like having a quiet lake all to yourself and oftentimes there are simply more fish available to catch, because they haven’t been fished out. There are generally more processes for access private land for hunting than fishing, though some similar methods exist. For instance, you can sometimes join a fishing club in Illinois or if you have the money, it may be possible to rent some private land for fishing. Another option is to knock on doors or work your contacts in an area to see if a landowner would let you fish for the day or possibly be open to a longer term arrangement.

Fortunately Wing It is simplifying land access for fishing, hunting, camping, and more. We’re adding new land every day and if we have some in your area, you’ll see some great options below.

More Private Land Fishing

Kansas
• 552 acres •
Kansas
• 79 acres •
Kansas
• 152 acres •
Arkansas
• 1977 acres •
Kansas
• 307 acres •
Nebraska
• 3 acres •
  • Hunting
  • Fishing
  • Camping
  • Others activities
    • Kayaking
    • Turkey hunting by bow only
  • Hunting
  • Fishing
  • Camping
  • Others activities
    • Kayaking
    • Turkey hunting by bow only
Wing It - Access. Granted White

Coming in 2023!

We’re currently building the ultimate app for outdoor access.  Add your name and details below to save your spot and ensure you get access before the general public. 

Coming in Early 2023!
Guests - Get early access to private land.
Landowners - Increase your profit per acre.