Unveiling the Start of Fishing Season in Illinois: Your Go-To Guide!

When does fishing season start in Illinois

Understanding the Fishing Seasons in Illinois

Fishing enthusiasts eagerly await the arrival of fishing season each year. For those who reside in or plan to visit Illinois, knowing when the fishing season starts is crucial. The state offers abundant opportunities for anglers with its beautiful lakes, rivers, and streams teeming with various fish species. In this blog post, we’ll provide you with all the information you need regarding when fishing season begins in Illinois.

Fishing Season Dates

Illinois has a well-defined fishing calendar that outlines specific dates for different types of fish and bodies of water. It’s important to note that fishing seasons can vary depending on the region within the state. Typically, spring marks the beginning of most fisheries as ice melts away from lakes and rivers.

General Fishing Start Date: April 1st

In many parts of Illinois, anglers get their lines wet starting April 1st each year. This date serves as a general opening day across various water bodies throughout the state.

Lake Michigan: A Unique Scenario

While numerous lakes are included under general regulations, Lake Michigan holds some exceptions due to its vastness and unique ecosystem dynamics. On Lake Michigan proper (excluding harbors), trout and salmon have specific seasons mainly revolving around migratory patterns:

Salmon Season: March through October

Anglers targeting salmon on Lake Michigan can enjoy an extended season starting as early as March until October. During these months, Chinook salmon (“king” salmon) dominates catches along with coho salmon.

Trout Season: Year-round but varies by species

Lake trout is open for angling year-round on Lake Michigan but comes with specific size restrictions during certain periods such as the fall season. Rainbow trout, on the other hand, are more abundant during spring and fall, while Brown trout can be targeted year-round with varying regulations.

Special Regulations

While April 1st generally marks the start of fishing season in Illinois, it’s essential to familiarize yourself with any specific regulations or exceptions that apply to certain areas or fish species. These special regulations aim at ensuring sustainable management and conservation practices while also enhancing anglers’ experience.

Inland Trout Season: October 16th through June 15th

Inland trout fishing is a popular activity in Illinois. To ensure optimal conditions for stocked trout populations, an annual closure occurs from June 16th until October 15th when rivers and streams warm up significantly.

Muskie: Catch-and-Release Season extends to December

The catch-and-release season for muskellunge (muskie) extends beyond general closing dates. Anglers can continue targeting this thrilling sportfish until December before temporarily hanging up their gear until next year’s regular season begins again.

Stay Updated with Local Resources

It is crucial to stay informed about any potential changes or updates regarding fishing seasons in Illinois. You can regularly check the official website of the Illinois Department of Natural Resources (IDNR) for current information on regulations and open seasons across different regions within the state. Additionally, local bait shops and fellow anglers often provide valuable insights into local trends that may affect your fishing plans positively.


Fishing enthusiasts eagerly anticipate the arrival of fishing season each year in Illinois. While April 1st serves as a general starting point across most water bodies within the state, specific rules apply depending on factors such as location and fish species targeted – especially when considering Lake Michigan’s unique dynamics.
By staying updated with local resources and regulations, you can ensure an enjoyable fishing experience while also contributing to the conservation efforts that maintain Illinois’ diverse fisheries. So, gear up and get ready for an exciting season of fishing in Illinois!