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Lake County Forest Preserves | Preservation, Restoration, Education and Recreation


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We offer fishing and ice fishing fun for anglers of all ages and experience levels at many lakes and ponds in forest preserves throughout Lake County. Many preserves offer wheelchair access for fishing. See individual locations for details.


A valid Illinois fishing license is required for ages 16 and older. Anglers fishing for rainbow trout in Banana Lake at Lakewood must also have an inland trout stamp. Fees from these licenses provide funds to manage and stock many of these lakes and ponds annually. Purchase at the marina at Independence Grove Forest Preserve, many sporting goods stores, or from the Illinois Department of Natural Resources.

State fishing regulations, including site-specific regulations, apply at all forest preserve waterways. Visit the Illinois Department of Natural Resources for full details.


Only worms and minnows are permitted as live bait. Learn more »

Seining or trapping batfish, shellfish or other aquatic organisms is not permitted in any forest preserve waterway. Dump unwanted bait in trash, not in waterways where non-native species can cause problems for existing fish populations.


Two poles maximum. Line fishing only. Use of barbless, non-stainless steel hooks encouraged. Independence Grove and Nippersink have a mandatory catch-and-release fishing program, which makes it recreational for anglers and beneficial for nature. Learn more »

Sending fish back is an important part of maintaining good populations and is mandatory at Independence Grove and Nippersink. At other preserves, we highly encourage you to release bass or other predator fish you do not intend to keep. These predator fish help to keep panfish populations in balance.

Cast No Trash

Please deposit all litter, including fishing line, in trash receptacles. Most sites have recycling and fishing line collection tubes. We have seen birds and other wildlife entangled in old fishing line. Please help us avoid this.

Tips for Proper Technique

  • Land a fish as soon as possible. Exhausting a fish lowers its chance of survival.
  • When possible, do not use a net. Nets remove a fish's protective slime.
  • Always wet hands before handling fish. This protects the protective slime.
  • Use barbless hooks for easier hook removal.
  • Keep fish in the water while removing the hook.
  • Handle toothless fish by gripping the lower jaw.
  • Handle fish with teeth by gripping behind the gill covers.
  • Never grab a fish directly on the gill covers.
  • Never grip a fish around the abdomen.
  • Never grip a fish by depressing the eyes.
  • If a fish swallows the hook, do not attempt to remove it. Cut the line as close to the hook as possible and return the fish to the water. The hook will rust away in a few days.
  • Gently place the fish in the water upon release, never throw a fish back.

Basic Fishing Knots

Use fishing knots to properly tie your line to your hook, lure and other tackle. The knots below are those most commonly used by anglers. Each knot has a specific purpose. When creating your knot, consider the following:

  • The "tag end" (a.k.a. "working end") is the end of the line used to tie the knot.
  • The "standing end" is the line that comes from your reel.
  • Leave about 12 inches of the "tag end" of line to tie knots permanently
  • You want the strongest knot possible to avoid losing fish.
  • Simple overhand knots actually weakens your line.
  • Practice tying until you can create each knot easily and correctly.
  • Use saliva to wet knots as you pull them tight. This prevents damage to the line, helps pull the knot tight and prevents it from slipping.
  • Once tied, trim knots closely. A good, tight knot will not come loose, and close trimming prevents the knot from catching snags or weeds.
  • Do not burn the tag end. Heat damages the line and knot.

Improved Clinch Knot—Used to tie fishing line to a hook or lure for lines up to 20-pound test. The secret is making five turns of the tag end around the standing end before putting the tag end back through the formed loop.


Palomar Knot—Used to tie fishing line to a hook or lure for lines up to and over 20-pound test. This takes more line to tie and can tangle because it is doubled first, but it is a favorite of many anglers because it is easy and can be tied in the dark.


Non-Slip Loop Knot—Used with larger lines where a tight knot can affect the hook or lure movement. This knot creates a fixed loop so the hook can move freely.


Blood Knot—Used to join two lines of similar diameter. The secret is making five turns of line with each tag end around the overlapped standing end. Tip: Make one series of turns, tuck the tag end between the two lines and repeat with second line.


Arbor Knot—Used to attach line to your reel. This knot does not need to be strong. Run line around the spool, make overhand knot around standing line, clip and pull.


Sport Fish Species of Lake County Forest Preserves



The following state of Illinois fishing daily catch limits apply at all sites:

Bluegill and sunfish none none
Channel catfish none 3
Crappie none none
Muskellunge 48" 1
Largemouth bass 15" 1
Northern pike 24" 3
Rainbow trout 19" 5
Smallmouth bass 15" 1
Walleye 16" 6



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Buffalo Creek Reservoir »
Buffalo Creek, Long Grove
34 acres | max depth: 7 feet

Wright Woods Pond »
Captain Daniel Wright Woods, Mettawa
3 acres | max depth: 12 feet

Des Plaines River Greenway »

Fox River »

Rubber Duck Pond »
Grant Woods, Lake Villa
2 acres | max depth: 12 feet

Dugdale Lake »
Greenbelt, North Chicago
6 acres | max depth: 16 feet

Pulaski Lake »
Greenbelt, North Chicago
6 acres | max depth: 15 feet

Rubber Duck Pond »
Grant Woods, Lake Villa
2 acres | max depth: 12 feet

Half Day Pond »
Half Day, Vernon Hills
3 acres | max depth: 12 feet

Hastings Lake »
Hastings Lake, Lake Villa
74 acres | max depth: 25 feet

The Lake at Independence Grove »
Independence Grove, Libertyville
115 acres | max depth: 49 feet

Lake Carina »
Lake Carina, Gurnee
23 acres | max depth: 23 feet

Banana Lake »
Lakewood, Wauconda
3 acres | max depth: 25 feet

Taylor Lake »
Lakewood, Wauconda
8 acres | max depth: 20 feet

Beaver Lake »
Lakewood, Wauconda
5 acres | max depth: 10 feet

Acorn Pond »
Lakewood, Wauconda
2 acres | max depth: 14 feet

Heron Pond »
Lakewood, Wauconda
4 acres | max depth: 5 feet

Nippersink »
Nippersink, Round Lake
13 acres | max depth: 17 feet

Old School Lake »
Old School, Mettawa
12 acres | max depth: 16 feet

McClure Pond »
Pine Dunes, Antioch
Fishing at 2nd entrance only.

Timber Lake »
Raven Glen, Antioch
33 acres | max depth: 33 feet

Sterling Lake »
Van Patten Woods, Wadsworth
74 acres | max depth: 25 feet

Des Plaines Lake »
Sedge Meadow Canoe Launch, Wadsworth
19 acres | max depth: 36 feet


Fishing boats are available to rent seasonally at the marina at Independence Grove Forest Preserve. Use of personal watercraft is not permitted on the lake at Independence Grove.


The use of personal watercraft is permitted at Grant Woods, Hastings Lake and Van Patten Woods. Learn more »

Paddle down the scenic Des Plaines River, or fish along its banks at one of six canoe launches.


Fishing Tips by Mark Hurley, Environmental Educator

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