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Illinois isn't widely known as a fly fishing destination, but all throughout the state, lakes, ponds, and rivers offer enough warmwater fly fishing to keep any angler busy all year long. While there aren?t any naturally reproducing trout within Illinois, over 50 bodies of water are stocked with rainbow trout each spring, and several locations feature catch and release, fly fishing only seasons.
In the far northwest corner of Illinois, the famous Driftless Area extends into the state, giving home to one of the best fly fishing streams in the state: the Apple River. The Apple River is stocked with rainbow trout every spring and is one of nine locations to feature a fly fishing only season. Although the Apple is perhaps the coldest stream in Illinois, most of the trout fishing comes to a halt by mid-June due to warm water temperatures, though excellent smallmouth bass fishing can still be had. Other trout-stocked streams of interest to fly anglers include Rock Creek, the Kanakee River, and Pine Creek, with the bulk majority of other Illinois fly fishing taking place in the state?s many lakes.
Some of the best stillwater fly fishing happens at the Chain O?lakes State Park, where anglers head out in canoes in search of rainbow trout in the spring, and bass, pike, muskie, and perch in summer and fall until the lakes freeze over in the winter. One of the state?s more productive fisheries is in the waters of Lake Michigan, where chinook, coho, pink salmon, and lake trout are the primary harvest. Fly fishing on Lake Michigan is a big water game, requiring the use of heavyweight rods, a boat, and in-depth knowledge of the water to find the fish in such an expanse, and most anglers do best by hiring either a dedicated fly fishing guide or one who is familiar with fly fishing.
IL Department of Fish & Wildlife
Popular Water In Illinois
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When the winter weather sets in, fish get lazy
posted on Tue Feb 7
Well it’s officially winter here on the east coast. For me, winter means bundling up next to the fire tying dozens of flies at the vice and eating pizza on an almost nightly basis. My winter activity is actually very similar to how trout act in th...
Choosing the proper fly rod
posted on Sat Jan 21
Proper fly fishing gear is essential. Along with the reel, flies and line, the most important gear is the fly rod. Fly rods may vary in length from 6 - 12 feet and come in different weights, colors, actions, materials and types. Understanding the rod...
6 Tips to take better photos of your catch
posted on Fri Jan 13
Having a photograph taken of your catch is something that all anglers can appreciate. First trout, biggest fish, memorable catch, etc. etc. That photograph can be looked back at years later and it will remind you instantly of that day. What I'm here ...
Guides based in Illinois
Today TU is a national organization with more than 150,000 members organized into about 400 chapters from Maine to Montana to Alaska. This dedicated grassroots army is matched by a respected staff of lawyers, policy experts and scientists, who work out of