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Illinois’ early catch-and-release trout fishing: An explanation

A Fly fisher working Rock Creek during one of the first early fly-fishing, catch-and-release seasons.
Dale Bowman/Sun-Times

I didn’t see the early catch-and-release fly-fishing season listed in the spring trout release from the Illinois Department of Natural Resources.

And I was afraid that the early fly-fishing season, one of the cooler things the IDNR has done in recent years, was going away.

It is not.

But it is now more generally described as an early catch-and-release season at nine early-stocked sites. The key words there are catch-and-release.

So I asked for an explanation. IDNR spokesman Ed Cross sent this explanation:

While it is not specified in the release, most early-stocked trout fishing sites are open to catch-and-release fishing, including fly fishing, for trout beginning March 23.

IDNR Fisheries encourages early-season catch-and-release fishing for trout at these open sites, including fly fishing, as we try to provide more fishing opportunities for anglers, including fly fishing enthusiasts.

The early-stocked sites are mainly IDNR sites (same as last spring):

Apple River at Apple River Canyon State Park

Rock Creek at Kankakee River SP

Pine Creek at White Pines Forest SP

Siloam Springs SP

Gridley Lake at Jim Edgar Panther Creek SFWA

Horton Lake at Nauvoo SP

Morgan Lake at Nichols Park in Jacksonville

IDOT Lake in Springfield

Willow Lake at Peabody River King SFWA

And as an additional reminder – catch-and-release means just that; no trout may be kept (harvested) until the opening of the Spring Trout Fishing Season on April 6.