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Fly Fishing Location in the United States

Fly Fishing Illinois | The best Trout Fly Fishing in Illinois

by Justin Vandergrift 22 Feb 2023

Fly fishing in Illinois can be a wonderful experience for anglers looking for a variety of species in beautiful natural settings. From small streams to large rivers and lakes, the state offers a range of fishing opportunities throughout the year.

Illinois has more than 95,000 miles of rivers and streams, providing anglers with numerous options for fly fishing. One of the most popular destinations is the Illinois River, which runs for over 200 miles and is known for its smallmouth bass and channel catfish. The Fox River, located in the northeastern part of the state, is another favorite spot for fly fishermen, with a variety of species including smallmouth bass, musky, and trout.

Prince Nymphs

The state also has several large reservoirs that offer great fishing opportunities. Lake Michigan, located in the northeast corner of the state, is a world-renowned fishery that offers anglers the chance to catch a variety of salmon and trout species. Other popular lakes in the state include Lake Shelbyville and Rend Lake, both of which are known for their largemouth and smallmouth bass populations.

In addition to the state's rivers and lakes, Illinois also has several smaller streams that offer a unique fly fishing experience. The Kankakee River, for example, is a small river that runs through several counties in northeastern Illinois and is home to a variety of fish species including smallmouth bass, northern pike, and walleye. The Mackinaw River, located in central Illinois, is another popular stream for fly fishing and is known for its smallmouth bass and channel catfish populations.

Kankakee River Fly Fishing

One of the best times to fly fish in Illinois is during the fall when the leaves are changing colors and the water temperatures begin to cool down. This time of year is ideal for catching smallmouth bass, which are very active during the fall months. Trout fishing is also popular during the fall, especially in streams and rivers that are stocked with rainbow and brown trout.

When it comes to fly fishing gear, anglers in Illinois typically use a 9-foot, 5-weight rod with a floating line for most species. For larger species like musky, a heavier rod and line may be necessary. Anglers should also have a variety of flies on hand, including nymphs, streamers, and dry flies, to match the hatch of the various insect species in the area.

Prince Nymphs

Illinois has several fly fishing clubs and organizations that can provide information on the best places to fish in the state as well as tips on fly fishing techniques and gear. The Illinois Smallmouth Alliance, for example, is a group dedicated to the conservation and preservation of smallmouth bass populations in the state and offers resources for anglers interested in fly fishing for smallmouth bass.

In terms of regulations, anglers in Illinois must have a valid fishing license and must follow the state's fishing regulations, which include catch limits and size restrictions for certain species. The Illinois Department of Natural Resources (IDNR) is responsible for managing the state's fisheries and can provide information on regulations and licensing requirements.

Overall, fly fishing in Illinois offers anglers a wide range of opportunities to catch a variety of species in beautiful natural settings. With its numerous rivers, lakes, and streams, the state provides a unique fishing experience for both novice and experienced fly fishermen alike.

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