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Illinois’ fall trout season: Some answers, some questions, some reductions

Illinois’ fall trout season opens Oct. 17, the third Saturday in October as usual, but it comes with reductions in sites in the Chicago area and some lingering questions.

File photo of opening day for fall trout season on Wolf Lake at William Powers SRA, one of the sites that will be open this fall during the pandemic. Credit: Dale Bowman
File photo of opening day for fall trout season on Wolf Lake at William Powers SRA, one of the sites that will be open this fall during the pandemic.
Dale Bowman

Word came, well sorta came, this Friday afternoon on Illinois’ fall trout season.

As usual, the season will open on the third Saturday in ber, Oct. 17 this year.

But some sites in the Chicago area opted out with the pandemic and the Forest Preserves of Cook County still has not announced its decision whether its sites will participate. In general, the sites open in the nine-county Chicago area are primarily Illinois Department of Natural Resources sites. The four announced non-IDNR sites participating in the nine-county Chicago are Spring Grove Hatchery Pond in McHenry County, Van Horn Woods and Lake Strini (Will), and Bird Park Quarry (Kankakee).

If I read and counted right, the usual nine sites across the state will be open two weeks early on Oct. 3 for the early catch-and-release season. The usual three early sites in northern Illinois are again at Apple River (Jo Daviess), Pine Creek (Ogle) and Rock Creek (Kankakee),

Here are the general details from the IDNR and the listings of the northern Illinois sites.

Illinois Fall Trout Season Opens October 17

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. – The 2020 Illinois Fall Trout Fishing Season opens Saturday, Oct. 17 at more than 50 ponds, lakes, and streams throughout the state.

An early opportunity at select trout sites – the Fall Catch-and-Release Fishing Season – will open Oct. 3 at locations marked with an asterisk (*) in the list below. No trout may be kept during the catch and release fishing period, but anglers can keep trout after the opening of the regular season beginning Oct. 17.

The Illinois catchable trout program is funded by those who use the program through the sale of Inland Trout Stamps and the Illinois Fish Management Fund.

No trout may be taken from any of the stocked sites from Oct. 1 until the fall trout season opens Oct. 17. Anyone attempting to take (harvest) trout before the legal harvest season opening will be issued citations.

All anglers — including those who intend to release fish caught before Oct. 17 — must have a valid fishing license and an Inland Trout Stamp, unless they are under the age of 16, blind or disabled, or are an Illinois resident on leave from active duty in the Armed Forces. The daily catch limit for each angler is five (5) trout.

Illinois fishing licenses and Inland Trout Stamps are available at DNR Direct license and permit locations, including many bait shops, sporting goods stores and other retail outlets. Check the IDNR website at:

Fishing licenses and trout stamps also can be purchased by using a credit card through DNR Direct online via the IDNR website at

Not all of the fall trout sites listed below open at 5:00 a.m. on opening day. Anglers are reminded to check the opening time of their favorite trout fishing location prior to the season. For more information about all site regulations, anglers should contact individual sites that will be stocked with catchable-size trout.

Participants in Fall Trout Fishing Season are reminded to follow current public health directives, including maintaining social distancing guidelines, bringing with them masks in case social distancing cannot be maintained and hand sanitizer containing at least 60 percent alcohol.

The Forest Preserves of Cook County has not made a final decision on opening for trout season, due to conditions related to COVID-19. Please check the FPCC website at for updates closer to Oct. 17, 2020.

The locations that will be open for Fall Trout Fishing Season are listed below:

2020 Illinois Fall Trout Locations

(* Denotes Sites Open for Catch-and-Release Fishing Early Season)

North Region

Bureau County: Hennepin Canal Parkway

Cook County: Wolf Lake, William W. Powers State Recreation Area

Jo Daviess County: Apple River, Apple River State Park *

Kankakee County: Bird Park Quarry, Kankakee

Kankakee County: Rock Creek, Kankakee River State Park *

Kendall County: Big Lake at Silver Springs State Fish and Wildlife Area

Lake County: Sand Lake, Illinois Beach State Park

LaSalle County: Illinois and Michigan Canal, Lock 14, La Salle-Peru

McHenry County: Spring Grove Hatchery Pond

Ogle County: Pine Creek, White Pines Forest State Park *

Rock Island County: Prospect Park

Warren County: Citizen’s Lake, Monmouth

Whiteside County: Centennial Park Pond, Rock Falls

Will County: Lake Strini, Romeoville

Will County: Van Horn Woods, Plainfield

Winnebago County: Bauman Lake, Cherry Valley