Best Walleye Fishing Near Chicago: Top Spots Revealed

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Are you ready to catch some of the best walleye fishing near Chicago? You’re in luck. Chicago offers some fantastic spots for walleye fishing. The best place near the city to find walleye is Evergreen Lake, where you’ll find excellent fishing conditions year-round.

A calm lake at sunset, with a fishing rod casting into the water. The silhouette of the Chicago skyline in the distance

If you prefer something closer, you can explore the walleye fishing opportunities right within Chicago. Several guides and charters specialize in finding the best fishing holes in the area. Whether you’re a seasoned angler or new to walleye fishing, Chicago has something to offer.

The timing of your fishing trip also matters. The best times to catch walleye are during spring and fall. During these seasons, the fish are more active and easier to catch.

Key Takeaways

  • Evergreen Lake is the top spot for walleye near Chicago.
  • Spring and fall are the best times for walleye fishing.
  • Several local guides and charters can help you find walleye in Chicago.

Overview of Walleye Fishing in Chicago

A serene lake at sunrise, with a small fishing boat anchored near the shore. A fisherman casts his line into the calm waters, surrounded by the city skyline in the background

Walleye fishing in Chicago offers some of the best spots in Illinois. I often find myself drawn to this activity due to the variety of locations and rich fishery.

The Department of Natural Resources has worked hard to maintain healthy walleye populations in the waters near Chicago. This makes it easier for enthusiasts like me to enjoy productive fishing trips.

Several lakes around the city are known for their walleye populations. For example, Evergreen Lake in central Illinois has a robust walleye presence, making it a popular destination.

For those who prefer guided trips, there are various charters available. These charters help anglers find the most fruitful spots without much hassle. One option includes Musky&PikeDreamers Southern WI Tour, which is highly rated.

Key Walleye Lakes near Chicago:

Lake NameLocationFeatures
East Fork LakeSouthern Illinois38 feet deep, hard bottom structure
Evergreen LakeCentral Illinois900-acre lake, excellent walleye fishing

Walleye Charters in Chicago:

My experiences fishing for walleye in Chicago have always been rewarding. With numerous lakes and reliable charters, anyone can enjoy this sport, whether you’re a seasoned angler or a beginner.

Best Times for Walleye Fishing

A serene lake at dusk, with a fishing rod casting out into the calm waters, surrounded by the silhouette of trees and the distant glow of Chicago's city lights

The best times to fish for walleye vary depending on the season, month, and time of day. Factors like temperature, spawn periods, and weather conditions play a crucial role. Understanding these patterns can help you plan a successful fishing trip.

Seasonal Patterns

Different seasons offer unique opportunities for walleye fishing near Chicago. In spring, walleye are highly active due to the spawning season. They move to shallow waters, making them easier to catch. By summer, walleye head to deeper, cooler waters to avoid the heat. Fall sees walleye becoming active again as they prepare for winter, feeding heavily. Winter months can be tough, but ice fishing is a popular method.

Best Months for Walleye

Focusing on June and July, the peak of summer offers great chances to catch walleye. After the spawn, walleye are hungry and more likely to bite. The spring months of March and April are also ideal as walleye move into shallower waters. Come fall, September and October are prime months as walleye feed aggressively to prepare for the colder months.

Time of Day for Peak Activity

Early mornings and late evenings are the best times of the day for walleye fishing. In summer, these times are especially productive as walleye avoid the midday heat. During spring and fall, walleye are more active throughout the day but still prefer low-light conditions. Night fishing can also be effective, especially in summer when walleye come closer to the shore to feed.

By keeping these patterns in mind, I can improve my chances of a successful walleye fishing trip near Chicago. Adaptability and observation are keys to understanding the best times to fish.

Key Locations for Walleye Around Chicago

The sun sets over Lake Michigan, casting a warm glow on the calm waters. A lone fishing boat drifts near the shoreline, surrounded by the Chicago skyline in the distance

Walleye fishing near Chicago offers several prime spots, ranging from large lakes and reservoirs to rivers and forest preserve lakes. Knowing where to go can significantly increase the chances of a successful fishing trip.

Popular Lakes and Reservoirs

East Fork Lake in Southern Illinois is a hotspot for walleye. With depths up to 38 feet and a variety of hard-bottom structures, it’s ideal for walleye fishing. This 935-acre reservoir near Olney provides ample fishing opportunities.

Up in central Illinois, Evergreen Lake is well-known for its walleye population. Spanning 900 acres, this lake offers excellent walleye fishing, especially during spring and fall when the fish are more active.

Shabbona Lake, a 310-acre fishing lake, is another great option. Located in DeKalb County, it features various fishing opportunities, including walleye. Its structure and depth make it a reliable spot throughout the year.

Rivers and Their Tributaries

The Kankakee River is a significant river for walleye fishing around Chicago. Known for its clear waters and varied habitats, it supports a healthy walleye population. Fishing in its pools and runs can be productive, especially during the pre-spawning season.

Fox River, stretching through Illinois, is another excellent location. It offers diverse fishing spots and supports a robust walleye fishery. Several parts of the river, particularly near dams and deeper pools, provide good fishing grounds.

The Illinois River also stands out. This major river has a reputation for sizable walleyes. It provides various fishing spots, especially near its tributaries and areas with slower currents. Fishing here can be highly rewarding, especially with its easy access points.

Forest Preserve Lakes

In the Chicago area, forest preserve lakes offer great walleye fishing without the need to travel far. One such spot is Busse Woods Reservoir. This lake sees regular stocking, providing consistent opportunities for anglers.

Skokie Lagoons, another forest preserve lake, is well-known among local fishermen. It consists of a series of interconnected lagoons that offer various fishing spots, ideal for walleye.

Lastly, Beck Lake in the Des Plaines River watershed is worth mentioning. It’s part of the Cook County Forest Preserve, offering accessible and productive fishing locations for walleye enthusiasts.

Techniques and Tactics for Walleye Fishing

A fishing rod casts into a calm lake at sunset, with a picturesque Chicago skyline in the background. The water ripples as a walleye bites the lure

When fishing for walleye near Chicago, understanding the right techniques can make all the difference. I’ll cover essential tactics like jigging with live bait, trolling, and using planer boards paired with crankbaits.

Jigging and Live Bait Approaches

Jigging is one of the most effective methods for catching walleye. It’s important to use jigs in various sizes and colors to match the walleye’s feeding habits.

Using live bait like minnows is also key. Minnows can attract more bites, especially when jigged near the bottom of the lake. Drop your jig to the desired depth, typically around 12 to 25 feet, then use a slow, vertical motion to mimic the movement of prey.

I also like to add nightcrawlers or leeches to my jigs for extra attraction. Remember, subtle movement can often entice a walleye to strike.

Trolling Methods

Trolling involves dragging lures behind a moving boat, and it’s a great technique for covering large areas of water. When trolling for walleye, I typically use crankbaits or crawler harnesses.

Crankbaits imitate small fish and can be very effective. Varying the trolling speed from 1 to 2.5 mph can help trigger strikes. Depth control is essential, so I use weighted lines or lead core lines to reach the right depth.

In addition to crankbaits, I often troll with crawler harnesses rigged with night crawlers. The spinning blades on the harness add extra attraction and can coax walleye out of hiding.

Using Planer Boards and Crankbaits

Planer boards help to spread out lines and cover more water. They are especially useful when fishing in open water or along structures. I attach crankbaits to planer boards to reach different depths and avoid line tangles.

Crankbaits like those discussed on Wired2Fish are ideal for this setup. Adjusting the distance the planer board is from the boat affects how deep the crankbait will dive. It’s crucial to monitor the setup and make adjustments based on the walleye’s location and activity levels.

Using planer boards alongside trolling can significantly increase your chances of a successful walleye fishing trip by allowing you to present baits at various depths and distances.

Understanding Walleye Behavior

A walleye swims near the rocky shore of Lake Michigan, its golden eyes scanning for prey as it moves stealthily through the clear, blue water

Knowing walleye behavior helps identify where they feed, spawn, and inhabit. Their habits change with water conditions, affecting your fishing success.

Spawning Habits

Walleye typically spawn in spring when water temperature reaches around 45-50°F. They prefer shallow waters with rocky or gravelly bottoms. In the Chicago area, rivers and shallow lake areas are ideal spots.

Spawning usually occurs at night. Males arrive first to prepare the spawning grounds. Females lay eggs, which males then fertilize. This process is crucial for the population’s sustainability.

Fish migrate to these areas from deeper waters. Understanding their movement patterns can help predict their location during spawning season.

Response to Water Conditions

Water conditions like temperature and pressure significantly impact walleye behavior. They thrive in temperatures between 45-70°F. Sudden changes in temperature can cause them to move.

High water pressure can drive walleye to deeper areas. Conversely, lower pressure often makes them more active and easier to catch. Knowing about these conditions helps in planning the fishing strategy.

Clear water conditions mean walleye stay deeper to avoid predators. In murky water, they might be found in shallower areas. Observing water clarity can guide where to cast your line.

Feeding Patterns

Walleye feed on baitfish such as shad and small perch. They are more active during low light conditions like dusk and dawn. Using lures that mimic baitfish increases chances of a successful catch.

During the day, walleye tend to stay deeper or in shaded areas. They come closer to shore or into shallower waters at night. Using different techniques for day and night fishing is essential.

Water temperature influences their feeding habits. Cooler temperatures generally slow their metabolism, leading to less frequent feeding. Warmer temperatures, within their ideal range, stimulate more regular feeding.

Regulations and Conservation

A serene lake with clear waters, surrounded by lush greenery. Fishing boats adhere to strict regulations, while a variety of wildlife thrives in the protected area

Illinois has specific rules to help protect walleye populations. These rules include fishing limits and size restrictions and promote ethical catch and release practices to ensure future generations can enjoy walleye fishing near Chicago.

Fishing Limits and Size Restrictions

In Illinois, the Department of Natural Resources has set clear limits to protect walleye populations. Anglers can generally keep up to six walleye per day, but this number may vary by lake or river. It’s essential to check local regulations for any specific area.

There are also size restrictions to ensure young fish have the chance to grow and reproduce. Typically, any walleye smaller than 14 inches must be released immediately. This “slot limit” helps maintain healthy walleye numbers by protecting younger, smaller fish from being harvested.

Catch and Release Ethics

Catch and release is a common practice among walleye anglers to help conserve the species. When I fish for walleye, I make sure to handle the fish as little as possible to avoid harming it. Using wet hands or a wet towel prevents damage to the fish’s protective slime.

It’s important to use barbless hooks as they make it easier to release the fish without injuring it. Release the fish quickly and gently back into the water to minimize stress. This practice ensures walleye populations stay strong and healthy for future angling opportunities.

Walleye Fishing Charters and Guides

A serene lake at sunrise, with a fishing boat anchored near the shore. The water is calm, reflecting the pink and orange hues of the morning sky

I’ve searched for some great charters and guides for walleye fishing near Chicago, and here’s what I found.

For those looking for a good experience, the Musky & Pike Dreamers Southern WI Tour out of Buffalo Grove looks promising. This is a 19 ft charter, accommodating up to four people. Anglers have highly rated this service with 4.9 out of 5 stars on FishingBooker.

Another excellent choice is Delavan. This charter uses a 22 ft Skeeter boat built in 2021. It can host four guests. The boat’s 300 HP Yamaha engine speeds up to 50 knots, making for a thrilling fishing trip. This one is also popular among walleye fishing charters.

Here’s a quick table summarizing these options:

Charter NameLocationBoat SizeMax GuestsRating
Musky & Pike DreamersBuffalo Grove19 ft44.9
DelavanChicago Metro Area22 ft4n/a

The guides are knowledgeable and can help find the best fishing spots around the Chicago area. If staying in the city is preferred, there’s a guide specializing in yellow perch that might also offer walleye tips.

For a variety of charters, some of which include walleye fishing, check out options from FishingBooker. Their site lists charters with reviews, pricing, and availability, allowing me to choose the right fit.

Choosing a reliable guide or charter can make a huge difference in the fishing experience, ensuring a successful and enjoyable day on the water.

Equipment and Gear Recommendations

A fishing rod, tackle box, and bait sitting on the edge of a calm lake near Chicago, with a beautiful sunset in the background

For the best walleye fishing near Chicago, it’s crucial to have the right equipment. Here, I’ll cover what rod and reel you need and the essential tackle and accessories that will help you land more catches.

Rod and Reel Selection

A solid rod and reel setup is critical. For walleye fishing, I recommend a medium power rod about 6 to 7 feet long. This length offers versatility for various fishing techniques. For instance, trolling and jigging benefit greatly from this rod size.

Pair the rod with a spinning reel that offers smooth drag and good line capacity. A 2000 to 3000 size reel usually works well. Braided line is a good choice for its strength and sensitivity but consider a fluorocarbon leader to reduce visibility in the water.

Essential Tackle and Accessories

To maximize your walleye fishing success, you need specific tackle:

  • Jigs: Use 1/8 to 1/4 ounce jigs, which are excellent for vertical jigging.
  • Minnows: Live bait like minnows is a top choice for walleye.
  • Crankbaits: These are great for trolling and can cover more water quickly.
  • Planer Boards: These help spread your lines and increase your trolling area.

Additionally, I always carry a landing net with a long handle and rubberized netting to safely land and manage the fish. Polarized sunglasses can also help reduce glare and see beneath the water’s surface, making it easier to spot fish.

Local Angling Services and Amenities

Fishing in Chicago offers various services and amenities to make your trip enjoyable.

Fishing Charters
Several charters operate in and around Chicago. For instance, you can opt for the popular Delavan Skeeter boat, accommodating up to 4 guests. These charters are ideal for targeting walleye and provide all necessary gear for an exciting fishing experience.

Launch Fees
Boat launches in the area often require a fee. It’s essential to check local guidelines. Most public launch sites have a nominal fee that helps maintain the facilities.

Fishing Deals
Some charters offer special deals, especially during peak seasons. It’s worth looking out for discounts on platforms like FishingBooker. These deals can help you save money while enjoying a high-quality fishing adventure.

Maps and Locations
Using accurate maps can help you locate the best fishing spots. Websites like Fishermap provide detailed analytics on walleye fishing, helping you choose the right time and place for your fishing trip.

Guided Tours
For those new to the area, guided tours offer valuable insights. They lead you to productive spots, ensuring a fruitful fishing day. Some guides even specialize in specific fish like Yellow Perch while targeting walleye in nearby areas.

Exploring these services and amenities can enhance your fishing experience in the Chicago area, ensuring a comfortable and successful trip.

Best Walleye Fishing Near Chicago: FAQ

Fishing for walleye near Chicago offers various opportunities in a mix of lakes and rivers. Below, I address some of the most common questions about spots, techniques, and timing for walleye fishing in this region.

What are the top spots for walleye fishing in the Chicago area?

The best places to fish for walleye near Chicago include Lake Michigan, the Chain O’Lakes, and Fox Lake. These locations are popular due to their plentiful walleye populations and accessibility.

How do I catch walleye in Lake Michigan and its surroundings?

To catch walleye in Lake Michigan, I recommend using jigs tipped with minnows or nightcrawlers. Early morning and late evening are the best times. Depths of 20-30 feet near structures like drop-offs and weed edges are prime spots.

When is the best time of year to fish for walleye in Illinois?

Walleye are most active during the spring and fall. Spring, particularly April and May, is great due to spawning activity. Fall, especially September and October, provides good conditions as walleyes feed heavily to prepare for winter.

What lakes are known for the best walleye fishing in the Midwest?

Some top Midwest lakes for walleye include Evergreen Lake in Illinois, Mille Lacs Lake in Minnesota, and Lake Erie. These lakes have been known for their excellent walleye populations and fishing experiences.

Are there any tips for successful walleye fishing in Shabbona Lake?

When fishing in Shabbona Lake, I find that using crankbaits or live bait at dawn or dusk works well. Focus on drop-offs and submerged trees where walleye tend to hide. Being patient and varying your retrieval speeds can also yield better results.

How can an angler locate walleye hotspots in and around Chicago?

To locate walleye hotspots near Chicago, I suggest looking for areas with good structure such as rock piles, weed edges, and drop-offs. Additionally, fishing analytics and local reports can help identify successful spots. Regularly checking conditions and adjusting your strategy accordingly is essential.


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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