Illinois is definitely not known for its excellent walleye fishing. Most anglers that live in Illinois will plan their fishing trip to Wisconsin, Minnesota, Canada or Lake Erie when they want to fill their coolers with walleye. There are some places that you can consistently catch walleye and sauger and if you are within a short drive to these waters, you can catch some nice fish for the dinner table.
When most people think of walleye, they typically think of fishing lakes and rivers farther to the north, but in Illinois, it seems like some of the best walleye waters are to the south. Some of the lakes in the southern part of the state that have plenty of walleye in them are Lake Carlton, Clinton Lake, Kinkaid Lake and Evergreen Lake. Head out to the western Illinois area and you will find Pittsfield City Lake, which is probably the best walleye lake in the state for big fish.
Once you head up north, there are a few lakes to focus on to go along with a few rivers. Lake Shabbona is located a couple of hours west of Chicago and it is mostly known for its state record muskies. People would talk more about the walleye fishing if you were allowed to fish after dark on this lake. There are plenty of walleye in the lake with many trophy-sized fish, but the extremely heavy fishing pressure here makes it difficult to land more than a couple of fish per outing and some anglers that fish out here never catch a walleye. It’s a tough lake to fish, but there are plenty of walleye in Lake Shabbona. Your best bet is to fish mid-week during low light conditions.
The Fox Chain of Lakes is a popular boating and fishing destination. The walleye fishing can very good here in the spring and fall. Summers can be tough because the pleasure boaters are all over the lake and they seem to get up earlier and earlier every summer. It is not uncommon to see someone on a jet ski at 8 in the morning during the summer. There are plenty of lakes to fish in this chain and many of them produce healthy populations of keeper-size walleye.
Another lake up north worth mentioning is Pierce Lake, which is located in the Rockford area. This lake is stocked regularly making it a good lake to catch some walleye.
As far as the rivers go, experienced anglers can catch walleye consistently in the Fox river and Kankakee river, but they don’t even compare to the walleye and sauger fishing in the Illinois river. Fishing tournaments get going in the early spring and many tournament boats catch their limit on the Illinois river. There are lots of fish in the 3 to 5 pound range on the Illinois river and if you want to get in on the action, head out the Starved Rock State Park.
For more information on the lakes listed above to go along with some of the other places to fish in Illinois, take a look at our Illinois fishing page.