Fishing

an adult and child fishing at Wampum Lake during Kids Fest event
Fishing at the annual Kids Fest event at Wampum Lake.

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

On this page:


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 and each fisherman is limited to two lines with no more than two hooks per line and no trolley lines.

A valid Illinois 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. 

Additionally:

  • Minnow seine use is not allowed, except for bait collecting on the Des Plaines River.
  • Ice fishing is permitted only on designated waterbodies on a fish at your own risk basis.
  • Don’t dump fish from home or other waterbodies. It is illegal to release any fish, including minnows and goldfish, in any Forest Preserves’ waters, except in the waters from which they were taken.
  • Don’t litter. 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.
  • Don’t enter the water. It is illegal to enter the water for any reason, including wading or swimming, unless authorized by administrative order of the General Superintendent.

Daily Size & Creel Limits

These size and creel limits apply to all Forest Preserves fishing waterbodies. Please note: not all species are found in all waterbodies.

SpeciesSize limitCreel limit
Largemouth/Smallmouth Bass14 in.6/day
Walleye18 in.6/day
Northern Pike24 in.3/day
Muskellunge42 in.1/day
Channel Catfishnone6/day
Bluegill/Sunfishnone15/day
Black/White Crappienone15/day
Rainbow Troutnone5/day

Special Forest Preserves regulations regarding size, creel limit and/or closings may be imposed on designated waterbodies. These special regulations are used to help manage waterbodies and improve fish populations and will be posted at the impacted waterbodies. We ask the fishing public to respect and obey these additional regulations.


Trout Fishing

Rainbow trout are stocked in the spring at Axehead Lake, Belleau Lake and Sag Quarry – East and in the fall at Axehead LakeBelleau 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 Illinois Fishing License with an Inland Trout Stamp is required to fish the Forest Preserves’ trout lakes.


person fishing on Busse Reservoir just before sunset
Fishing is popular at the 457-acre Busse Reservoir.

Fishing Lakes

The Forest Preserves manages over 40 waterbodies for recreational sport fishing. Waterbodies listed in alphabetical order.


Arrowhead Lake

Arrowhead Lake is a 13-acre body of water with a maximum depth of 12.6 feet. Three bump-outs are located off the parking lot that allows fishermen to access deeper water. Designated ice fishing lake.


Arrowhead Lake
W 135th St, east of Harlem Ave
Cook County, IL 60463 (view web map of Arrowhead Lake)
(near Palos Heights)

Axehead Lake

This 17-acre lake with a maximum depth of 29.9 feet. Four bump-outs off the parking lots allow access to deeper water. Designated ice fishing lake.


Axehead Lake
S River Road, south of W Touhy Ave
Cook County, IL 60018 (view web map of Axehead Lake)
(near Des Plaines)

Chippewa Woods
(part of Axehead Lake)
S River Rd, south of W Touhy Ave
Cook County, IL 60018 (view web map of Chippewa Woods)
(near Des Plaines)

Barrington Road Pond

This small, two-acre pond has a maximum depth of 7.2 feet.


Barrington Road Pond
(part of Arthur L. Janura Preserve)
S Barrington Rd, south of W Higgins Rd
Hoffman Estates, IL 60194 (view web map of Barrington Road Pond)

Beck Lake

This 37-acre body of water with a depth of 18.5 feet has an island in the middle of it. The island is a wildlife area and access is prohibited. Features a trailered boat launch for canoes, kayaks, rowboats, sailboats and boats with electric trolling motors. Designated ice fishing lake.


Beck Lake
East River Rd & Central Road
Cook County, IL 60016 (view web map of Beck Lake)
(near Des Plaines)

Belleau Lake

This small, 12-acre lake is one of the deepest lakes in the Forest Preserves, with a maximum depth of 31.6 feet. Designated ice fishing lake.


Belleau Lake
Busse Hwy, northwest of Oakton St
Park Ridge, IL 60068 (view web map of Belleau Lake)

Belly Deep Slough

This 17-acre slough is aptly named, with a maximum depth of only 3.4 feet.


Belly Deep Slough
96th Ave, south of W 95th St
Cook County, IL 60480 (view web map of Belly Deep Slough)
(near Willow Springs)

Beverly Lake

Beverly Lake is a 16-acre body of water with a maximum depth of 7.2 feet.


Beverly Lake
(part of Spring Lake)
W Higgins Rd/Rte 72, west of Beverly Rd
Cook County, IL 60010 (view web map of Beverly Lake)
(near Barrington)

Big Bend Lake

This 27-acre body of water has a depth of 27.8 feet; however, because it is connected to the Des Plaines River by a spillway, water level can fluctuate dramatically during flood events. Features a trailered boat launch for canoes, kayaks, rowboats, sailboats and boats with electric trolling motors. Designated ice fishing lake.


Big Bend Lake
Bender Rd, south of Golf Rd
Des Plaines, IL 60016 (view web map of Big Bend Lake)

Bode Lake

Bode Lake North is a six-acre lake with a maximum debt of 13.4 feet at the north end; the larger and deeper Bode Lake South is 10 acres with a depth of 20.7 feet. Ice fishing is permitted on the south lake; however, due to inflow from Poplar Creek no ice fishing is permitted on the north lake.


Bode Lake
(part of Arthur L. Janura Preserve)
E Bode Rd, east of Bartlett Rd
Hoffman Estates, IL 60107 (view web map of Bode Lake)

Bullfrog Lake

This 16-acre lake has a maximum depth of 9.9 feet. Two bump-outs are located on the eastern shoreline. Fishing within the campground (along the southwestern shoreline) is restricted to registered campers only.


Bullfrog Lake
Wolf Rd, south of 95th St
Cook County, IL 60480 (view web map of Bullfrog Lake)
(near Willow Springs)

Camp Bullfrog Lake
9600 Wolf Rd
Willow Springs, IL 60480 (view web map of Camp Bullfrog Lake)
312-636-9785

Busse Reservoir

At 457 acres, Busse Reservoir is one of the largest fishing and boating waters in Cook County. Six fishing walls are available at portions of the over 20 miles of shoreline. Boat rentals, bait and other fishing supplies are available at the Boating Center. Four of these fishing walls have wheelchair ramps to the parking areas. Ice fishing is allowed everywhere except the North Pool (north of Higgins Rd).


Busse Lake Boating Center
E Higgins Rd/Rte 72, east of I-290/Hwy 53
(near Elk Grove Village)
224-415-6554

*Boat rentals, bait and other fishing supplies available. Features two trailered boat launches for canoes, kayaks, rowboats, sailboats and boats with electric trolling motors.


Busse Lake Beisner Road Access
Beisner Rd, north of Biesterfield Rd
(near Elk Grove Village)

*Features two accessible fishing walls


Busse Forest Main Dam
S Arlington Heights Rd, south of Landmeier Rd
Elk Grove Village, IL 60007 (view web map of Busse Forest Main Dam)

*Features one accessible fishing wall


Busse Forest-South
E Higgins Rd/Rte 72, west of N Arlington Heights Rd
Cook County, IL 60007 (view web map of Busse Forest-South)
(near Elk Grove Village)

Busse Forest-West
E Higgins Rd/Rte 72, east of I-290/Hwy 53
Cook County, IL 60007 (view web map of Busse Forest-West)
(near Elk Grove Village)

*Features one accessible fishing wall. No ice fishing allowed at this location.


Cermak Quarry

Don’t let its small size (only three acres) fool you, this old quarry drops down to 18.3 feet.


Cermak Woods
7600 W Ogden Ave

Deer Grove Lake


Deer Grove
N Quentin Rd, north of W Dundee Rd
Cook County, IL 60074 (view web map of Deer Grove)
(near Palatine)

Flatfoot Lake

This old strip mine is 19 acres and has a maximum depth of 15.4 feet. Features a barrier free fishing pier. Designated ice fishing lake.


Beaubien Woods
W Doty Ave S, southeast of E 130th St & S Ellis Ave
Chicago, IL 60827 (view web map of Beaubien Woods)

Green Lake

This five-acre lake is the deepest lake in the Forest Preserves with a maximum depth of 38.1 feet. Designated ice fishing lake.


Green Lake Woods
Torrence Ave, north of 159th St/River Oaks Dr
Calumet City, IL 60409 (view web map of Green Lake Woods)

Horsetail Lake

Horsetail Lake is 12 acres and has a maximum depth of 19 feet near the east end. Designated ice fishing lake.


Horsetail Lake
104th Ave, north of McCarthy Rd
Cook County, IL 60464 (view web map of Horsetail Lake)
(near Palos Park)

Ida Lake


Sundown Meadow
S LaGrange Rd, north of 67th St
Countryside, IL 60525 (view web map of Sundown Meadow)

Joe’s Pond

Joe’s Pond is a six-acre pond with a maximum depth of 9.6 feet.


Joe’s Pond
S Willow Springs Rd/Flavin Rd, north of 107th St
Cook County, IL 60480 (view web map of Joe’s Pond)
(near Willow Springs)

Maple Lake

Constructed in the 1920s, this 60-acre lake drops down to 20.4 feet in the northwest corner. A fishing pier is located on the east side of the lake, and four bump-outs are located in the southwest corner. Boat rentals, bait and other fishing supplies are available at the Boating Center. Private boats prohibited. Designated ice fishing lake.


Maple Lake Boating Center
Wolf Rd, south of 95th St
(near Willow Springs)
708-506-0227

*Boat rentals, bait and other fishing supplies available. Private boats are prohibited on Maple Lake. Features two fishing piers.


Maple Lake Overlook
95th St, southeast of S Archer Ave
Cook County, IL 60480 (view web map of Maple Lake Overlook)
(near Willow Springs)

Maple Lake-East – Mountain Bike Staging Area
95th St, west of Willow Springs Rd/Flavin Rd
(near Willow Springs)

*Features a fishing pier.


McGinty Slough

This waterbody is 38 acres with a depth of 8.2 feet. This lake is walk-in access only, via the Brown Unpaved Loop on the Sag Valley Trail System.


McGinty Slough
Cook County, IL 60439 (view web map of McGinty Slough)
(near Lemont)

Midlothian Reservoir

Known to locals as “Twin Lakes.” The east pond is 16 acres with a depth of 10.7 feet and the larger west pond is 19 acres with a depth of 8.9 feet. These ponds were constructed as a storm water retention pond during flood events, so water depth can fluctuate dramatically. 


Midlothian Reservoir
167th St, west of Cicero Ave

O’Malley Ponds

O’Malley Ponds consist of three ponds with a total of 21 acres. A fourth pond is located to the west, but is located on private property. 


Michael J. O’Malley Preserve
Burnham Ave, south of E Sauk Trail

Papoose Lake

This 18-acre lake has a maximum depth of 9.3 feet. Two bump-outs near the parking lot allowing access to deeper water. Designated ice fishing lake.


Papoose Lake
McCarthy Rd, west of S La Grange Rd
Cook County, IL 60464 (view web map of Papoose Lake)
(near Palos Park)

Penny Road Pond

This small, seven-acre pond has a maximum depth of 4.6 feet and is connected to Spring Creek.


Penny Road Pond
(part of Spring Lake)
East Penny Rd, west of Old Sutton Rd
Barrington Hills, IL 60010 (view web map of Penny Road Pond)

Pogie Lake



Potawatomi Pond

A four-acre pond.


Potawatomi Woods
E Dundee Rd, east of N Milwaukee Ave
Cook County, IL 60062 (view web map of Potawatomi Woods)
(near Northbrook)

Powderhorn Lake

This 48-acre lake has a maximum depth of 17.4 feet and is connected to a large marsh on the north end. This marsh has been designated a wildlife refuge and a Nature Preserve by the State of Illinois—no fishing is permitted in this area. Features a trailered boat launch for canoes, kayaks, rowboats, sailboats and boats with electric trolling motors. Designated ice fishing lake.


Powderhorn Lake
S Brainard Ave, east of S Burnham Ave/S Ave O

Rolling Knolls Pond

This small, 1.8-acre pond has a maximum depth of 7.5 feet and is occasionally influenced by Poplar Creek.


Rolling Knolls
Rohrssen Rd, south of Bode Rd

Saganashkee Slough

This large, 377-acre lake is only 6.3 feet deep at the west end and features a barrier free fishing wall at the east end. Features a trailered boat launch for canoes, kayaks, rowboats, sailboats and boats with electric trolling motors. Designated ice fishing lake. Canoe & kayak rental available.


Saganashkee Slough Boat Launch
107th St, west of S Willow Springs Rd/104th Ave
(near Willow Springs)

*Canoe and kayak rentals are available at a trailered boat launch. Boat launch accommodates canoes, kayaks, rowboats, sailboats and boats with electric trolling motors. The boat launch closes from roughly October to April each year to accommodate migrating waterfowl. Call 708-403-6951 for exact dates.


Saganashkee Slough-Central
107th St, west of S Willow Springs Rd/104th Ave
(near Willow Springs)

Saganashkee Slough-East
S Willow Springs Rd/104th Ave, north of Calumet Sag Rd/Rte 83
(near Willow Springs)

*Features a fishing wall.


Sag Quarries

These lakes are old limestone quarries. The west lake is 14 acres with a maximum depth of 10.3 feet. The east lake is 17 acres and has a maximum depth of 17.1 feet  Designated ice fishing lake.


Sag Quarries
Archer Ave & Old Archer Ave
Cook County, IL 60439 (view web map of Sag Quarries)
(near Lemont)

Sauk Lake


Sauk Trail Woods-Central
Forest Preserve Dr, south of W 26th St
South Chicago Heights, IL 60411 (view web map of Sauk Trail Woods-Central)

Sauk Trail Woods-North
W 26th St, west of Euclid Ave
South Chicago Heights, IL 60411 (view web map of Sauk Trail Woods-North)

Sauk Trail Woods-South
Forest Preserve Dr, north of W Sauk Trail
South Chicago Heights, IL 60411 (view web map of Sauk Trail Woods-South)

Schiller Pond

This small, 6-acre pond has a maximum depth of 6.3 feet. Seven bump-outs are located around the pond to improve access to deeper water.


Schiller Woods-East
W Irving Park Rd, west of N Cumberland Ave

Skokie Lagoons

Skokie Lagoons is a system of seven lagoons connected by channels on the Skokie River. The total acreage for the entire lagoon system is 242 acres.  The maximum depth of 14.9 feet is located in Lagoon #2; however, pockets of 10 feet or more can be found in most of the other lagoons. Features a trailered boat launch for canoes, kayaks, rowboats, sailboats and boats with electric trolling motors. Canoe and kayak rental available.


Tower Road
(part of Skokie Lagoons)
Tower Rd, west of Forestway Dr
Cook County, IL 60093 (view web map of Tower Road)
(near Winnetka)
847-414-5883

*Canoe and kayak rental available.


Tower Road Boat Launch
(part of Skokie Lagoons)
Tower Rd, west of Forestway Dr
(near Winnetka)

*Features a trailered boat launch for canoes, kayaks, rowboats, sailboats and boats with electric trolling motors.


Forest Way Grove
(part of Skokie Lagoons)
Forest Way Dr, south of Dundee Rd
Cook County, IL 60022 (view web map of Forest Way Grove)
(near Glencoe)

Erickson Woods
(part of Skokie Lagoons)
Willow Rd, east of I-94/Edens Expy
Cook County, IL 60093 (view web map of Erickson Woods)
(near Winnetka)

Tampier Lake

Tampier Lake has 131 acres of fishable water, with a maximum depth of 9.4 feet. Watercraft are not permitted north of 131st St. and fishing is prohibited north of the power lines. Features a trailered boat launch for canoes, kayaks, rowboats, sailboats and boats with electric trolling motors. Boat rentals, bait and other fishing supplies are available at the Boating Center. Designated ice fishing lake.  


Tampier Lake Boating Center
W 131st St west of S Wolf Rd
(near Orland Park)
708-361-0460

Tampier Lake-West
S Will Cook Rd, south of W 131st St
Cook County, IL 60467 (view web map of Tampier Lake-West)
(near Orland Park)

Thatcher Pond

This 1.5-acre pond, accessible at the Trailside Museum of Natural History parking lot, is an old oxbow of the Des Plaines River and is prone to flooding. Its fish population is heavily influenced by the river.



Tryner’s Pond

This area is made up of several ponds connected by small channels and totals 12 acres. The northern pond is the deepest with a maximum depth of 13.1 feet. Walk-in access only.


Tryner’s Pond
Cook County, IL 60477 (view web map of Tryner’s Pond)
(near Tinley Park)

Tuma Lake


Tuma Lake
Cook County, IL 60480 (view web map of Tuma Lake)

Turtlehead Lake

This 18-acre site includes Turtlehead Lake, Turtlehead Pond and West Pond. Turtlehead Lake is the deepest at 14.6 feet, Turtlehead Pond is 11.5 feet deep and West Pond is 4.3 feet deep. Designated ice fishing lake.


Turtlehead Lake
Harlem Ave, south of W 135th St
Cook County, IL 60462 (view web map of Turtlehead Lake)
(near Orland Park)

Wampum Lake

Wampum Lake is 35 acres and has a maximum depth of 14.1 feet. Nine bump-outs are located on the southern and western shorelines allowing better access to deep water. Designated ice fishing lake.


Wampum Lake
Thornton-Lansing Rd, west of IL-394
Cook County, IL 60476 (view web map of Wampum Lake)
(near Thornton)

Stocking Reports

The Forest Preserves, 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.


Three people fishing from a row boat with an electric trolling motor at Busse Reservoir

Boating


Fishing Guide

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.


person ice fishing
Photo by Brian Bochenek. 

Ice Fishing

Ice fishing is permitted only on designated waterbodies on a fish at your own risk basis: 

  • Ice conditions are not monitored by the Forest Preserves.
  • 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 waterbody is recommended before individuals attempt ice fishing.

Designated Ice Fishing Waterbodies


Fish Consumption Advisory

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


Fishing Events

There are no upcoming events at this time.

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