The Forest Preserves manages over 40 waterbodies for recreational sport fishing.


The Forest Preserves Fisheries Section, in cooperation with the Illinois Department of Natural Resources, stocks a number of lakes with sport fish on an annual basis. Twice a year, once in the spring and once in the fall, rainbow trout are stocked.


Some fishing locations allow the use of approved private watercraft and Boating Centers offer rentals, bait and food.


The Forest Preserves fishing guide lists all fishing and boating regulations, locations, maps and other fishing and boating information. Printed fishing guides are available at the Forest Preserves General Headquarters in River Forest, IL and all six Nature Centers.


View Fishing Map Download Fishing Guide


Population Surveys


Stocking Reports


Fishing Regulations


The Forest Preserves works with the Illinois Department of Natural Resources to provide quality hook-and-line fishing.  All state laws and regulations apply to Forest Preserves waters, with some additional restrictions:  bow and arrow fishing for rough fish is not permitted in the preserves. All waters within the forest preserves are designated fish preserves&mdsh;each fisherman is limited to two lines with no more than two hooks per line and no trolley lines.


A valid Illinois Sport Fishing License is required, except for individuals under 16 years of age or people with a disability. In addition, anyone required to have a valid State fishing license must have a valid Illinois Inland Trout Stamp when fishing for trout within on designated trout lakes. To obtain a fishing license or trout stamp, visit


The following daily creel and size limits pertain to all fishable waters within the Forest Preserves of Cook County. Not all species are found in all lakes; download the fishing guide for more information.


Daily Creel and Size Limits:


Species* Size Limit Creel Limit
Largemouth/Smallmouth Bass 14 inches 6 per day
Walleye 18 inches 6 per day
Northern Pike 24 inches 3 per day
Muskellunge 42 inches 1 per day
Channel Catfish None 6 per day
Bluegill/Sunfish None 15 per day
Black/White Crappie None 15 per day
Rainbow Trout None 5 per day

*All species may not be found in all lakes


Special Forest Preserves Regulations regarding size, creel limit and/or closings may be imposed on designated waters of the District and will be so posted. These special regulations are used for management of the District’s waters and to improve fish populations within. We ask the fishing public to respect and obey these regulations on lakes so posted.


Inland Trout Program: Rainbow trout are stocked in the spring and fall. Lakes receiving trout in the spring are Axehead Lake, Belleau Lake and Sag Quarry – East. Lake receiving trout in the fall are Axehead Lake, Belleau Lake and Horsetail Lake.


Trout fishing is closed from March 15 to the first Saturday in April and from October 1 to the third Saturday in October. A valid State of Illinois Fishing License with an Inland Trout Stamp is required to fish the District’s trout lakes.


Minnow seine use is not allowed, except for bait collecting on the Des Plaines River.


Ice Fishing is only permitted on designated District lakes in a FISH AT YOUR OWN RISK basis. Ice conditions are not monitored by the District. Ice fishermen should check ice thickness before going out on any frozen body of water. A minimum of four inches of solid ice over the entire lake is recommended before individuals attempt ice fishing.
To view individual maps of the 40 fishing areas, displaying water depths and more information on FPDCC fishing waters, visit the Lake Maps page.


It is unlawful to release any fish, including minnows and goldfish, in any Forest Preserve District of Cook County waters, except in the waters from which they were taken.


It is illegal to abandon, deposit or throw any wire, can, bottle, glass, paper, trash, rubbish, cardboard boxes, wood cartons, trees, parts of trees, brush, or other insoluble material, including animal or vegetable material, into the waters of Cook County, or in any place on the banks of waters in the County, where it shall be liable to be washed by storms, floods or other causes.


It is unlawful to enter the water for any reason, including wading or  swimming, unless authorized by administrative order of the General Superintendent.

Visit the Boating Page for all FPDCC boating information and regulations.


Fish Consumption Advisory

Please see the Illinois Department of Natural Resources website for more information.

Visit two of the treasures of the Forest Preserves of Cook County