Illinois

23 Fishing Charters

Illinois Fishing Charters

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Top Fishing Charters in Illinois


Are you looking to book a trip to the Midwest? Have you thought about an Illinois fishing trip? Fly to the midwestern “Prairie State” for excellent fishing along world-renowned rivers and lakes. Illinois is a state where rivers make up the majority of its borders, allowing anglers to catch a range of species, such as Pink, Coho, and Chinook Salmon, Channel, Blue, and Flathead Catfish, Lake and Rainbow Trout, Longnose, Spotted, and Shortnose Gar, Northern Pike, Walleye, Sauger, Muskellunge, and more.

Illinois Fishing Spots

There are so many fishing spots to choose from when fishing in Illinois. You have over a million-and-a-half acres of water to wet your lines in! There are plenty of power plant cooling lakes to fish, which are hotbeds for Catfish. Other top fisheries include Carlyle Lake, Rend Lake, Lake of Egypt, Evergreen Lake, Cedar Lake, and plenty more.

Mississippi River

Known as the "Father of Waters," the Mississippi River runs 580 miles through Illinois before continuing on. In Illinois alone there are 15 dams along its stretch, creating additional sections and rivers to fish. You’ll be able to target different species in various parts of the Mississippi. The upper part is great for Channel Catfish and both Smallmouth and Largemouth Bass. Head further down the river for excellent Flathead and Blue Catfish. Walleye fishing is best in one of the tributaries of the Mississippi, the Rock River. You can also explore other tributaries which are great to fish, such as Green River and Apple River.

Illinois River

Fishing the Illinois River has only improved over time. Since the Clean Water Act in ‘72, the sportfishing here has blossomed. You can fish along the 273 miles of Illinois River for Channel Catfish, Largemouth Bass, Walleye, Sauger, White Bass, Brown Bullhead, White Crappie, and more. As well as the river itself, try fishing the lakes around it. These freeze over in winter and are great for ice fishing.

Ohio River

This huge tributary of the Mississippi River is great for catching Largemouth, Smallmouth, White, Striped, and Hybrid Bass, Sauger, Walleye, and more. Although the average size of the Largemouth Bass here is between 12–15 inches, they have been known to reach 21 inches. The best time to catch bigger Bass is in summer, in the main parts of the river. You can catch Catfish in the Ohio River, where 15 lb Channel Catfish and 25 lb Flathead Catfish are common. On occasion, the local Flathead Catfish can reach huge sizes! Fish during the cooler part of the day in May and June for great results.

Rock River

For Smallmouth Bass, head toward the section of the river between Oregon and Grad Detour. You’ll need to release the Bass caught here between April and June. If you’re looking for table fare, you’ll want to target the Channel Cats that make their home here instead. Flathead Catfish is also great here, as well as in the stretch of river between Grand Detour and Dixon. The next part of the river, between Dixon and Sterling, offers anglers depths of up to 50 feet. This is a huge difference to the 15’ depths found in the rest of the river. If you’d like to target Northern Pike, head toward Rockford along the southern part of the river.

Lake Michigan

The third largest of the Great Lakes, there are 63 miles of Lake Michigan coastline available in Illinois. You can choose to fish from the shore or head out into these productive waters. The fish you can target here include King and Coho Salmon, Largemouth and Smallmouth Bass, Steelhead, Perch, Freshwater Drum, Carp, Crappie, Channel Catfish, and more. Throughout the year there will be closed seasons for certain species, so check with the captain which species can be caught when.

Fishing Tips

  • Just below the dams, especially on the Mississippi River, use ¼ to 1 oz jigs and minnows on three-way rigs for best results. When above the dams, spinners and crankbaits are best.

  • Summer is the best time to catch Walleye, where they’ll be feeding en masse, so use crawfish baits. In the spring, plastic worms and crankbaits are used to better effect.

  • Along the Illinois River, use heavier weights than normal (around ¾ to 1 ounce). This will really get the attention of Sauger and Walleye.

Need to Know

There are many baits and lures anglers can use. In Illinois, it’s illegal to use live rusty crayfish.

Check with your captain about the number of poles that can be in the water at once. On many bodies of water in Illinois, only two poles are allowed. Ice fishing usually allows for three poles, but some places have tighter restrictions.

Regulations

You’ll need to purchase a fishing license before you cast your first line. Always check the latest regulations for the size and number of catch you’re legally allowed to keep.

Dispose of your fish correctly, and don’t fillet your catch on any waters where there are length limits.

When fishing in Lake Michigan, you’ll need to get a “Lake Michigan Salmon Stamp” before you begin your trip.

Budget

Trips in southern Illinois are generally half the price of trips further north. Eight-hour trips along the main rivers in the north range between $750–850 for six people.

The freshwater fishing in Illinois will keep you busy year-round. Whether you’re ice fishing, fishing the dams, or classic river fishing, anglers of all experience levels will love their vacation here.

Illinois
Excellent Excellent Excellent Excellent Excellent 4.55
Based on 23663 reviews by FishingBooker anglers

January

Bluegill on the Fox Chain O’Lakes is good this month. You’ll be ice fishing, so wrap up warm.

 
February

This is a great month for Sauger in the Illinois River. Fish for Perch in Lake Michigan.

March

Shallow waters are great for Crappie in March, before the spawning season starts. Celebrate St. Patrick’s Day and see the Chicago River dyed green!

April

Bass are good in the shallows this month. Join the Illinois Bass Federation for tournaments from now onwards.

May

Perch can’t be taken this month. Visit the Benton Rend Lake Water Festival for parades, food, and live entertainment.

 
June

Perch can be targeted after June 15. The Ravinia Festival is a three-month music festival that you should visit while here.

 
July

The North Michigan Avenue Art Festival showcases both known and unknown artists. Good month for Bass and Channel Catfish throughout Illinois.

 
August

Target Carp, Smallmouth, and Largemouth Bass in August. Visit the Chicago Air and Water Show and be amazed!

 
September

Plenty of music festivals this month, including the Viva! Chicago Latin Music Festival. State Good month to target King and Coho Salmon.

October

On land, visit the Chicago International Film Festival. In the water, target Steelhead, Perch, Brown Trout, and Channel Catfish.

November

Watch the Chicago Thanksgiving Parade, a huge spectacle not to be missed. Catfish continue to be good, as well as King and Coho Salmon.

December

December is a good month for Crappie and Blue Catfish, which can reach trophy sizes this month.

Illinois Fishing Calendar

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Make sure you know your weather! We checked with Capt Don the Sunday before tornado quality T-Storms were blowing through the area on our scheduled trip. We postponed a day for a much smoother ride!
5.0 Excellent Excellent Excellent Excellent Excellent
Make sure you know your weather! We checked with Capt Don the Sunday before tornado quality T-Storms were blowing through the area on our scheduled trip. We postponed a day for a much smoother ride!
Kurt  W.
Kurt W. Hoffman Estates, Illinois
I would recommend to relax and expect to have a great day on the lake fishing.
5.0 Excellent Excellent Excellent Excellent Excellent
I would recommend to relax and expect to have a great day on the lake fishing.
Donald  R.
Donald R. Palos Heights, IL
I would recommend Fred Mooney as a good fishing guide. He seemed to know the area well. After the Strom's late last night. We where able to still catch a nice mess of fish.
4.7 Excellent Excellent Excellent Excellent Excellent
I would recommend Fred Mooney as a good fishing guide. He seemed to know the area well. After the Strom's late last night. We where able to still catch a nice mess of fish.
Jason  C.
Jason C. Danville, IL
Rend lake is huge! Only saw a small portion, but was not disappointed. Had a great guide! Fred with Full Moon Fishing Service was knowledgeable and friendly. Look forward to many more trips with his company ??❤️
5.0 Excellent Excellent Excellent Excellent Excellent
Rend lake is huge! Only saw a small portion, but was not disappointed. Had a great guide! Fred with Full Moon Fishing Service was knowledgeable and friendly. Look forward to many more trips with his company ??❤️
Tosha  V.
Tosha V. Monticello, IL
Bring light weight pants to fend off the biting flys that are present during July & summer months.
4.7 Excellent Excellent Excellent Excellent Excellent
Bring light weight pants to fend off the biting flys that are present during July & summer months.
Bryan  B.
Bryan B. Arlington Heights, IL
This was definitely worth the trip for a first time charter fishing experience and loved that everyone caught something and the captain cleans the fish on the boat and sends home with you!
4.7 Excellent Excellent Excellent Excellent Excellent
This was definitely worth the trip for a first time charter fishing experience and loved that everyone caught something and the captain cleans the fish on the boat and sends home with you!
Jennifer  J.
Jennifer J. Chicago, IL
Captain Mike and I fished Lake Kinkaid not Lake Murphesboro. Sorry for the confusion.
5.0 Excellent Excellent Excellent Excellent Excellent
Captain Mike and I fished Lake Kinkaid not Lake Murphesboro. Sorry for the confusion.
Donald  R.
Donald R. Palos Heights, IL
Bring warm clothing. The lake this time of year is a cold trap and cools the air above it.
4.7 Excellent Excellent Excellent Excellent Excellent
Bring warm clothing. The lake this time of year is a cold trap and cools the air above it.
Michael  K.
Michael K. Chicago, IL
Get a charter with Ray and Joe at Xtasea IV Charter for a great weekend fun day with your friends!
5.0 Excellent Excellent Excellent Excellent Excellent
Get a charter with Ray and Joe at Xtasea IV Charter for a great weekend fun day with your friends!
Ryan  S.
Ryan S. Lake Forest, Illinois
Bring proper clothing ,sunblock and a great attitude ! remember it's the experience not the poundage of fillets. Although you may get both. There are no guarantees. Good luck.
4.7 Excellent Excellent Excellent Excellent Excellent
Bring proper clothing ,sunblock and a great attitude ! remember it's the experience not the poundage of fillets. Although you may get both. There are no guarantees. Good luck.
Robert  R.
Robert R. Mokena, Illinois

Full Moon Fishing Service–Rend Lake
Full Moon Fishing Service–Rend Lake
Fishing charter in Whittington
5.0 Excellent Excellent Excellent Excellent Excellent 17 reviews
Captain Fred knows Rend Lake very well. He has the latest electronics and knows how to use them. On a day when the bite was slow we still caught fish and had fun doing it. I would recommend Full Moon to friends and family.
Jeff  W.
Jeff W. Hamel, Illinois
River Valley Charter Service
River Valley Charter Service
Fishing charter in Chillicothe
5.0 Excellent Excellent Excellent Excellent Excellent 6 reviews
Captain Austin was very knowledgeable about fishing the Illinois River. He was able to put us on a lot of quality Crappie. We were very satisfied with all aspects of the trip and would recommend him to anyone wanting a great time on the water. He is very safety minded and has top of the line equipment. We had a lot of fun!
Ioerger  I.
Ioerger I. United States
Long Gone 3 Charters
Long Gone 3 Charters
Fishing charter in Waukegan
5.0 Excellent Excellent Excellent Excellent Excellent 53 reviews
We were worried about getting seasick. None of us had that problem. I found myself saying “This is a lot of fun.” In between catching and bringing in fish, the conversation never stopped.
Paul  N.
Paul N. Chicago, IL
Long Gone 3 Charters
Long Gone 3 Charters
Fishing charter in Waukegan
5.0 Excellent Excellent Excellent Excellent Excellent 53 reviews
The captain was super nice and friendly and made the trip for my sons 13th birthday very enjoyable. Caught our limit on lake trout early and went looking for Salmon. Boat was great, equipment was top notch. Overall a great experience. Will be booking again.
Daniel  K.
Daniel K. Frankfort, IL
Long Gone 3 Charters
Long Gone 3 Charters
Fishing charter in Waukegan
5.0 Excellent Excellent Excellent Excellent Excellent 53 reviews
Captain was entertaining, knowledgeable and attentive! To the man all of us agreed this was the best boat, captain and trip we have had (10 trips between the three of us). Captain Jim knows where to fish and what to use. A solid 10 from us! Already planning the salmon run next year.
Michael  L.
Michael L. St. Louis, MO
Twenty Four VII Charters
Twenty Four VII Charters
Fishing charter in Winthrop Harbor
5.0 Excellent Excellent Excellent Excellent Excellent 40 reviews
Had a great time with some friends,caught some trout and salmon, Captain Frank was excellent from start to finish,well be back!
Gerard  W.
Gerard W. Wood Dale, IL
Griffin Sport Fishing Charters
Griffin Sport Fishing Charters
Fishing charter in Winthrop Harbor
5.0 Excellent Excellent Excellent Excellent Excellent 28 reviews
Already booked next year’s trip, had a great time can’t wait to see how much fun we have next year!
Patrick  T.
Patrick T. Wonder Lake, IL
Griffin Sport Fishing Charters
Griffin Sport Fishing Charters
Fishing charter in Winthrop Harbor
4.3 Excellent Excellent Excellent Excellent Excellent 28 reviews
Fishing was slow but the crew did what they could to keep us on the fish will definitely use them again
Anders  P.
Anders P. Mendota, IL
Twenty Four VII Charters
Twenty Four VII Charters
Fishing charter in Winthrop Harbor
5.0 Excellent Excellent Excellent Excellent Excellent 40 reviews
Awesome trip. We hit our limit within 4 hours of the full day trip! I encourage everyone who is considering or planning a trip to book it with Captain Frank.
Jeffrey  T.
Jeffrey T. Roanoke, IL
Twenty Four VII Charters
Twenty Four VII Charters
Fishing charter in Winthrop Harbor
5.0 Excellent Excellent Excellent Excellent Excellent 40 reviews
We were expecting high winds and storm on the day of our trip. Captain Frank did the weather research, kept us informed, and presented us with options. We decided to go ahead with our trip. We had a great day of fishing. Captain Frank was knowledgeable and worked hard to keep us safe and on the fish!!
Benjamin  B.
Benjamin B. Chicago, IL
Twenty Four VII Charters
Twenty Four VII Charters
Fishing charter in Winthrop Harbor
5.0 Excellent Excellent Excellent Excellent Excellent 40 reviews
Captain was very informative! It was my first time and I had a blast!!! I came home happy talking about this trip non stop. Definitely booking another trip in October!
James  M.
James M. Chicago, IL
Long Gone 3 Charters
Long Gone 3 Charters
Fishing charter in Waukegan
5.0 Excellent Excellent Excellent Excellent Excellent 53 reviews
Capt James was fantastic. We had two newbies boat fishing with us and they said that they had the best time ever. We will be booking future trips with Capt James. Thanks for a great day
Jeffrey  S.
Jeffrey S. Chicago, IL
Long Gone 3 Charters
Long Gone 3 Charters
Fishing charter in Waukegan
5.0 Excellent Excellent Excellent Excellent Excellent 53 reviews
Captain Jim was awesome put us on some fish And was patient with my sons and I asking questions Getting ready to book another one in the spring and see how it goes . My boys are still talking about it and sending pictures to everyone 😂😂 Thank you Very much Captain Jim
Bob  K.
Bob K. Frankfort, IL
Twenty Four VII Charters
Twenty Four VII Charters
Fishing charter in Winthrop Harbor
5.0 Excellent Excellent Excellent Excellent Excellent 40 reviews
Frank was the ultimate professional. Knows his profession, his equipment, the waters. A pleasure to be with and around a an extremely pleasurable afternoon. Oh yea, we caught a respectable quantity and quality of trout and steelhead. Thanks Frank and S
Stephen  F.
Stephen F. Wilmette, IL
Xtasea IV Charters
Xtasea IV Charters
Fishing charter in Waukegan
5.0 Excellent Excellent Excellent Excellent Excellent 30 reviews
I can only rave about the trip already did recommend to some friends !!! To much to say but in a nutshell WE LOVED IT and planed already another trip for coming year !!! We did feel like Family absolutely a great experience !!!
Robert  C.
Robert C. Lake Zurich, Illinois
Long Gone 3 Charters
Long Gone 3 Charters
Fishing charter in Waukegan
5.0 Excellent Excellent Excellent Excellent Excellent 53 reviews
Captain Jim is one of the best! We had a spectacular time and hit our limit within a couple hours. Highly recommend!
Tom  C.
Tom C. Apex, NC
River Valley Charter Service
River Valley Charter Service
Fishing charter in Chillicothe
5.0 Excellent Excellent Excellent Excellent Excellent 6 reviews
Awesome boat, awesome guide, and an awesome guy! Very knowledgeable and works hard to make sure the client has the best experience possible. Highly recommend!
Rick  P.
Rick P. Chicago, Illinois
Long Gone 3 Charters
Long Gone 3 Charters
Fishing charter in Waukegan
5.0 Excellent Excellent Excellent Excellent Excellent 53 reviews
Family of 4 (kids 9 and 16 yo) was fishing with Captain James at the end of July. Captian James is a pleasure to deal with and kids friendly. His boat is very neat and organized. The trip was very well organized as well. We caught 2 salmons and 4 trouts (4 of them were really huge). All four of us are very happy about our experience. Looking forward for other trips with Captain James.
Elena  S.
Elena S. La Grange Park, IL
Twenty Four VII Charters
Twenty Four VII Charters
Fishing charter in Winthrop Harbor
5.0 Excellent Excellent Excellent Excellent Excellent 40 reviews
Great charter with Frank! Took my son and a few of his friends for our first chapter and it was great! Frank helped us with everything and shared stories and experiences with us. Caught some nice trout and salmon and will definitely look for Frank again for our next one!
Jon  B.
Jon B. Arlington Heights, IL
Long Gone 3 Charters
Long Gone 3 Charters
Fishing charter in Waukegan
5.0 Excellent Excellent Excellent Excellent Excellent 53 reviews
Our fishing trip was awesome I highly recommend fishing with James. He made sure we caught some fish and kept us entertained as well. He is great to take the whole family with. Really good with kids, our youngest is 4. He made it fun for them and they got to be the captain. He has been fishing for years and knows his stuff. You won’t go home with no fish.
Brook  G.
Brook G. Stanley, WI

FAQs about Fishing Charters in Illinois

To give you an idea of how much a fishing trip in Illinois costs, the average price for a 4 hour private trip is $466, while an 8 hour private trip will cost you $635. These prices are based on trips booked on our site recently.

Prices will vary depending on trip length, fishing technique, as well as the type and size of the boat you booked. However, to give you an indication, the average boat size in Illinois is 27 ft and the most common vessel type is a Offshore sport fishing.

According to customer reviews, Merganzer Fishing Charters, Griffin Sport Fishing Charters, and Kristy Lynn Charters are some of the most popular fishing charters in Illinois. Full list of top fishing charters in Illinois.

Merganzer Fishing Charters, Griffin Sport Fishing Charters, and Kristy Lynn Charters all received great reviews from families who booked fishing trips in Illinois.

The best way to experience fishing in Illinois is to book a private charter with a licensed fishing guide. See the full list of charters available for online booking here: List of fishing charters in Illinois.

The most popular fish species you can target are Lake Trout, Rainbow Trout (Steelhead), and Brown Trout. Top fishing techniques include light tackle, trolling, and jigging. Lake fishing, river fishing, and nearshore fishing are commonly offered by local guides.

December is a good month for Crappie and Blue Catfish, which can reach trophy sizes this month. Check availability for local fishing charters in Illinois.