Best Walleye Fishing in Illinois: Top Spots and Tips

Walleye Fishing in Illinois

Illinois is a haven for walleye fishing enthusiasts, and for good reason. The state boasts a diverse range of lakes and rivers that offer some of the best walleye fishing experiences in the country. Whether you’re a seasoned angler or a beginner, there’s something for everyone in Illinois.

From the Fox Chain-O-Lakes in northeast Illinois to Pittsfield City Lake in western Illinois, the state is home to a variety of walleye hotspots. Anglers can choose from natural lakes, reservoirs, and major rivers, each with its unique set of challenges and rewards. With so many options to choose from, it’s no wonder that Illinois is a top destination for walleye fishing.

Key Takeaways

  • Illinois offers a diverse range of lakes and rivers for walleye fishing.
  • Walleye hotspots include the Fox Chain-O-Lakes and Pittsfield City Lake.
  • Anglers can choose from natural lakes, reservoirs, and major rivers for walleye fishing in Illinois.

Best Walleye Lakes in Illinois

Illinois is home to some of the best walleye lakes in the country. Walleye fishing is a popular activity in the state, and anglers from all over the country come to Illinois to catch this prized fish. Here are some of the best walleye lakes in Illinois.

Lake Shelbyville

Lake Shelbyville is a 11,000-acre lake located in central Illinois. It is one of the best walleye lakes in the state, and it is known for producing some of the biggest walleyes in Illinois. The lake has a good population of walleyes, and anglers can catch them throughout the year. The best time to fish for walleyes in Lake Shelbyville is during the spring and fall.

Evergreen Lake

Evergreen Lake is a 900-acre lake located in central Illinois. It is one of the most popular walleye lakes in the state, and it is known for its excellent walleye fishing. The lake has a good population of walleyes, and anglers can catch them throughout the year. The best time to fish for walleyes in Evergreen Lake is during the spring and fall.

Kinkaid Lake

Kinkaid Lake is a 2,750-acre lake located in southern Illinois. It is one of the best walleye lakes in the state, and it is known for producing some of the biggest walleyes in Illinois. The lake has a good population of walleyes, and anglers can catch them throughout the year. The best time to fish for walleyes in Kinkaid Lake is during the spring and fall.

These are just a few of the best walleye lakes in Illinois. Anglers can also try their luck at other walleye lakes in the state, such as Lake Michigan, Fox Chain O’ Lakes, and Shabbona Lake. With so many great walleye lakes in Illinois, anglers are sure to have a great time fishing for this prized fish.

Top Walleye Rivers in Illinois

Illinois is a great destination for walleye fishing, with several rivers and lakes that are home to this popular game fish. In this section, we will focus on the top walleye rivers in Illinois.

Kankakee River

The Kankakee River is one of the best rivers in Illinois for walleye fishing. It is a tributary of the Illinois River and flows for 133 miles through Illinois and Indiana. The river is known for its clear water and rocky bottom, which provide ideal habitat for walleye. Anglers can catch walleye in the Kankakee River using a variety of techniques, including jigging and trolling with live bait, crankbaits, and spinners.

Illinois River

The Illinois River is a major tributary of the Mississippi River and is known for its excellent walleye fishing. The river flows for 273 miles through Illinois and is home to a variety of fish species, including walleye. Anglers can catch walleye in the Illinois River using a variety of techniques, including jigging and trolling with live bait, crankbaits, and spinners. The best time to fish for walleye in the Illinois River is in the spring and fall, when the water temperatures are cooler and the fish are more active.

Fox River

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The Fox River is a popular destination for walleye fishing in Illinois. It is a tributary of the Illinois River and flows for 202 miles through Illinois and Wisconsin. The river is known for its clear water and rocky bottom, which provide ideal habitat for walleye. Anglers can catch walleye in the Fox River using a variety of techniques, including jigging and trolling with live bait, crankbaits, and spinners. The best time to fish for walleye in the Fox River is in the spring and fall, when the water temperatures are cooler and the fish are more active.

In conclusion, the Kankakee River, Illinois River, and Fox River are some of the best rivers in Illinois for walleye fishing. Anglers can catch walleye in these rivers using a variety of techniques, including jigging and trolling with live bait, crankbaits, and spinners. The best time to fish for walleye in these rivers is in the spring and fall, when the water temperatures are cooler and the fish are more active.

Walleye Fishing Techniques

When it comes to catching walleye in Illinois, there are several techniques that anglers can use. Each technique has its own advantages and disadvantages, and the best approach will depend on the specific conditions of the water and the preferences of the angler. Here are three popular techniques for catching walleye in Illinois:

Using Jigs

Jigging is a popular technique for catching walleye in Illinois. Anglers can use a variety of jigs, including hair jigs, lead-head jigs, and bucktail jigs, depending on the conditions of the water. When jigging for walleye, it’s important to use a slow and steady retrieve, making sure to keep the jig close to the bottom. Anglers can also experiment with different colors and sizes to see what works best.

Using Crankbaits

Crankbaits are another effective technique for catching walleye in Illinois. Anglers can use a variety of crankbaits, including diving and floating models, depending on the depth of the water. When using crankbaits, it’s important to vary the speed and depth of the retrieve, as this can help trigger strikes from walleye. Anglers can also experiment with different colors and patterns to see what works best.

Using Minnows

Using live minnows is another popular technique for catching walleye in Illinois. Anglers can use a variety of minnows, including fathead minnows and shiners, depending on the conditions of the water. When using live minnows, it’s important to keep the bait close to the bottom, as this is where walleye are most likely to be feeding. Anglers can also experiment with different hook sizes and weights to see what works best.

Overall, the key to successful walleye fishing in Illinois is to be patient and persistent. Anglers should be willing to experiment with different techniques and baits, and should be prepared to adapt their approach based on the conditions of the water. With a little bit of practice and some luck, anglers can catch some impressive walleye in Illinois.

Walleye and Sauger Fishing

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Fishing for walleye and sauger in Illinois can be an exciting and rewarding experience for anglers of all levels. These two species are closely related and share many similarities in their behavior and habitat preferences. In this section, we will explore the basics of walleye and sauger fishing, including understanding sauger and sauger fishing techniques.

Understanding Sauger

Sauger are a member of the perch family and closely related to walleye. They have a similar appearance to walleye, but with distinct differences. Sauger have dark spots on their dorsal fins, while walleye have a white spot on the tip of the tail. Their body is also more elongated and slender than walleye. Sauger prefer cool, clear waters and are commonly found in rivers and reservoirs.

Sauger Fishing Techniques

Sauger can be caught using a variety of techniques, including jigging, trolling, and casting. Jigging is a popular technique that involves dropping a jig and bait to the bottom and then slowly lifting and dropping the bait to mimic the movement of a wounded baitfish. Trolling involves dragging a lure or bait behind a moving boat at a slow speed. Casting involves casting a lure or bait towards likely sauger habitat, such as drop-offs, eddies, and current breaks.

When fishing for sauger, it is important to use the right gear and equipment. A medium to heavy action rod with a fast tip is recommended, along with a spinning reel and 8-10 lb test line. Popular baits for sauger include minnows, jigs, and crankbaits.

In conclusion, walleye and sauger fishing in Illinois offers anglers a chance to catch these prized game fish in some of the most beautiful and scenic waters in the state. With the right techniques, gear, and equipment, anglers can increase their chances of success and enjoy a great day on the water.

Seasonal Walleye Fishing in Illinois

Walleye fishing in Illinois can be a thrilling experience throughout the year, but the best time to fish for walleye depends on the season. Here’s a breakdown of the best times to fish for walleye in Illinois.

Spring Spawn

Spring is the prime time for walleye fishing in Illinois because it’s the spawning season. During this time, walleye move into shallow water to spawn, making them easier to catch. Anglers can use techniques such as jigging or trolling with live bait or artificial lures to catch walleye during the spawn.

Summer Fishing

Summer is another great season for walleye fishing in Illinois. Walleye move to deeper waters during the warmer months, making it necessary to use different techniques to catch them. Anglers can use trolling or drifting with crankbaits or jigs to catch walleye in deeper waters. Early morning and late evening are the best times to fish during the summer months.

Winter Ice Fishing

Winter ice fishing is a popular activity in Illinois, and walleye are one of the most sought-after species during this time. Ice fishing for walleye requires a bit of patience and the right equipment. Anglers can use tip-ups or jigging with live bait or artificial lures to catch walleye through the ice. The best time to fish for walleye during the winter is early morning or late evening.

Overall, walleye fishing in Illinois can be a rewarding experience throughout the year, but the best time to fish for walleye depends on the season. Anglers should use the appropriate techniques and equipment for each season to increase their chances of success.

Record Walleyes in Illinois

Illinois is home to some of the best walleye fishing in the country, with many lakes and rivers offering excellent opportunities to catch these prized gamefish. In this section, we will take a closer look at the state record for walleye and some potential locations where you can catch a record-breaking fish.

Current State Record

The current state record for walleye in Illinois is an impressive 15 lbs 1 oz, caught in 2012. This fish was caught in the Kaskaskia River, which is known for producing some of the largest walleye in the state. The Kaskaskia River is a great place to fish for walleye, especially during the spring and fall when the fish are most active.

Potential Record Locations

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If you’re looking to catch a record-breaking walleye in Illinois, there are several locations that you should consider. Here are a few of the best options:

  • Fox Chain-O-Lakes: This natural chain of 15 lakes in northeast Illinois is home to a large population of walleye. The lakes are interconnected, which allows fish to move freely between them and provides anglers with plenty of opportunities to catch a trophy fish.
  • Lake Shelbyville: This large reservoir in central Illinois is known for its excellent walleye fishing. The lake has a healthy population of walleye, with many fish weighing over 10 pounds.
  • Rock River: The Rock River is a major tributary of the Mississippi River and is home to a large population of walleye. The river is known for producing some of the largest walleye in the state, with fish weighing over 10 pounds caught every year.
  • Illinois River: The Illinois River is another major tributary of the Mississippi River and is home to a large population of walleye. The river is known for producing some of the largest walleye in the state, with fish weighing over 10 pounds caught every year.

When fishing for walleye in Illinois, it’s important to use the right gear and techniques to maximize your chances of catching a trophy fish. Some of the best lures for walleye include minnows, spinners, crankbaits, and night crawlers. Walleye are typically found in large rivers with clear water or deep, weedless lakes with clean bottoms of gravel, rock, sand, or hard clay.

In conclusion, Illinois is a great place to fish for walleye, with many lakes and rivers offering excellent opportunities to catch these prized gamefish. Whether you’re looking to catch a record-breaking fish or just enjoy a day on the water, Illinois has something to offer for every angler.

Conservation and Regulations

Walleye fishing in Illinois is subject to a number of regulations aimed at protecting the fishery and ensuring its long-term sustainability. Understanding these regulations is important for anglers to help preserve the fishery for future generations.

Understanding Slot Limits

One of the most important regulations for walleye fishing in Illinois is the slot limit. Slot limits are designed to protect fish populations by allowing anglers to keep only certain sizes of fish while releasing others. In Illinois, for example, the slot limit for walleye on the Fox Chain of Lakes is 14 to 18 inches, with a daily bag limit of three fish. Anglers are allowed to keep one fish over 18 inches. Understanding slot limits is crucial for responsible anglers, as they help prevent overfishing and ensure that the fishery remains healthy.

Responsible Angling

Responsible angling is also essential for the long-term sustainability of the walleye fishery in Illinois. Anglers should be aware of the impact of their fishing practices on the environment and take steps to minimize their impact. For example, anglers should avoid fishing during spawning season, as this can disrupt the natural breeding cycle of walleye. They should also use appropriate gear and techniques, such as using barbless hooks and practicing catch-and-release fishing whenever possible. Additionally, anglers should avoid fishing in areas with heavy fishing pressure, as this can lead to overfishing and depletion of the fishery.

Overall, by understanding and following regulations such as slot limits and practicing responsible angling, anglers can help ensure the long-term sustainability of the walleye fishery in Illinois.

Frequently Asked Questions

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What are some of the top lakes for walleye fishing in Illinois?

Illinois has several lakes that are known for their walleye fishing. The Fox Chain O’Lakes is one of the most popular destinations for walleye fishing in the state. Other lakes that are worth checking out include Pittsfield City Lake, Lake Shelbyville, and Rend Lake.

What is the size limit for walleye in Illinois?

The size limit for walleye in Illinois varies depending on the location. In general, the minimum size limit is 14 inches, and the daily bag limit is six fish. However, it’s important to check the regulations for the specific lake or river you plan to fish.

Where is the best place to find walleye in Southern Illinois?

Southern Illinois has several lakes and rivers that are home to walleye. Some of the best places to find walleye in Southern Illinois include Lake of Egypt, Crab Orchard Lake, and Kinkaid Lake.

What is the best time of year for walleye fishing in Illinois?

The best time of year for walleye fishing in Illinois is during the spring and fall. Walleye are most active during these seasons, and they tend to move to shallower water to feed. However, walleye can be caught year-round in Illinois, so it’s always worth trying your luck.

Are there any specific techniques or baits that work best for walleye fishing in Illinois?

Walleye can be caught using a variety of techniques and baits. Some of the most effective techniques include trolling, jigging, and casting. Popular baits for walleye fishing in Illinois include minnows, nightcrawlers, and crankbaits.

Which lake in Illinois has the highest population of walleye?

Pittsfield City Lake has the highest population of walleye over 5 pounds per surface acre of any water in Illinois, thanks to the state’s hatchery system. However, the Fox Chain O’Lakes is also known for its high walleye population and is a popular destination for anglers.

Kurt

Hi, I’m Kurt and I’m the author of walleyemania. I’ve been fishing for Walleye since I was a kid and I love sharing my tips, tricks, and stories with other anglers. Whether you’re a beginner or a pro, you’ll find something useful and entertaining on my site. I cover everything from the best gear, baits, and techniques to the best spots, seasons, and recipes for Walleye fishing. Join me on my journey to catch more and bigger Walleye!

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