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All about the Forest Preserves’ Fisheries Management Division

Fisheries biologist Steve Silic shows a visitor a fish at Wampum Lake.
Fisheries biologist Steve Silic shows a visitor a fish at Wampum Lake.

With myriad water bodies including lakes, ponds and rivers, anglers of all ages can enjoy numerous opportunities to cast a line throughout the Forest Preserves of Cook County. To help ensure optimal water quality and thriving native fish populations, the Forest Preserves Fisheries Management Division works year-round with local and state agencies on a number of projects.

The main objective of the Forest Preserves Fisheries Management Division is to maintain Forest Preserves lakes and ponds for ecological sustainability, as well as providing recreational fishing opportunities to the public. Some of their work includes conducting fish population inventories, water chemistry analyses, nuisance aquatic vegetation control, invasive species monitoring, as well as educational programming and stocking a variety of sport fish.

“From developing eco-friendly initiatives (like fishing line cleanup efforts) to managing aquatic vegetation, the Fisheries Management Division works throughout the year to help Cook County residents have an enjoyable fishing experience in the Forest Preserves,” explains Steve Silic, Forest Preserves fisheries biologist.

Did you know? There are more than 2,000 acres worth of fishable waters in the Forest Preserves of Cook County. That includes more than 40 sites where anglers can catch a variety of fish such as walleye, yellow bass, northern pike, largemouth bass, white crappie and rainbow trout.

Speaking of rainbow trout, part of the Fisheries Management Division’s work includes an extensive stocking program. Each spring and fall, the Forest Preserves stocks more than 7,000 pounds of rainbow trout in partnership with the Illinois Department of Natural Resources. Additional fish stockings includes bluegill, muskie and channel catfish resulting in approximately 300,000 stocked fish each year.

Fishing: A year-round activity

Ice fishing is permitted at designated locations on a fish-at-your-own-risk basis. A minimum of four inches of solid ice over the entire lake is recommended before anglers attempt ice fishing.

To learn more about fishing in the Forest Preserves of Cook County, check out the Fishing Page and Fishing Guide. The guide lists all fishing and boating regulations, as well as locations, maps and other fishing and boating information. Printed guides are also available at the Forest Preserves General Headquarters and all six Nature Centers.