Ice Fishing: Have An Ice Day!

This year’s cold weather has brought with it plenty of snow and ice.  But that’s a good thing for people who love ice fishing.  And with more winter temperatures ahead of us, it’s time to embrace the ice and let the fun of ice fishing warm us up.

Ice fishing is not just for the die hard fisherman!  It can be something fun for the whole family and a very social event full of fun, friends, hot chocolate and lasting memories.

Looking for a fun way to enjoy winter?  Check out the 54th Annual Chain O’ Lakes Fishing Derby and Winter Festival
Saturday Feb. 8, 8 a.m. – 4 p.m., – Sunday Feb. 9, 7 a.m. – 2 p.m.
Join family and friends for some good old-fashioned fun at Illinois’ longest running winter event!  Try your luck in a raffle, or join in some fun winter games.  Head to the tent to watch as fishermen register their catch of the hour – hoping to win a prize for the smallest or the largest fish!  When you get hungry there’s plenty of good food at the Conservation Café.


Okay, Let’s Get Started! 

1. You’ll need a Fishing License
You can get an annual license that will cover the whole year, or you could get a 3 day license or even a 24 hour license for a day on the lake!  (Remember that the 24 Hour License does NOT include salmon or trout fishing privileges!) Purchase one online here

Current fees (fees subject to change)
Resident sport fishing annual: $15.00* (Half priced for Veterans!)
Resident sport fishing (65 years old and over): $7.75
Resident and non-resident sport fishing under 16 years of age:  NONE NEEDED
Resident sport fishing for the disabled or blind: NONE NEEDED
Resident sport fishing 24-hour license: $5.50

Non-resident sport fishing 24-hour license: $10.50
Non-resident sport fishing (3 days): $15.50
Non-resident sport fishing (annual) : $31.50

More info on Fishing in Illinois Here

2.) The Rules
A sport fishing license is required for ice fishing.  The ice angler may use a maximum of three poles or tip-ups with no more than two hooks on each line.  Sites with “two pole” and “line fishing only” restrictions may use a maximum of two poles or tip-ups.  Holes cut in the ice are limited to 12-inch diameter or less.  Shelter structures are limited to portable construction of metal or wood framework, covered with canvas, paper, plastic material or similar fabric.  Each shelter shall have the name and address of the owner attached, and after March 1 the shelter must be removed when not in use, and not left unattended at any time. All poles and tip-ups shall be constantly attended and kept under observation by the angler.

3.) The Gear
You’re well on your way!  If it’s a little too cold to sit out on the ice you can always make your own temporary shelter, or buy one from Bass Pro!

Did You Know?
Every Saturday at 2 p.m. Bass Pro offers free fishing workshops with our staff. These are for children, adults, and anyone who wishes to attend. No reservations needed! Every week is a different topic, so you are always learning something new! Feel free to bring in your lure, rod, or reel for free demonstrations on how to properly use them!

Ice Fishing in Lake County Forest Preserves
Ice fishing shelters must be removed at the end of the day, only two poles allowed, and holes must be drilled eight inches or smaller. A 4.5-inch layer of ice is needed for ice fishing.  Call the winter weather hotline for updated weather conditions from the Lake County Forest Preserves at 847.968.3235.  Check here for current conditions and updated postings!

  • At Independence Grove, ice fishing is permitted in the south bay.
  • At Lakewood Forest Preserve, ice fishing is permitted on Banana Lake only.
  • At Van Patten Woods, ice fishing is available on any part of Sterling Lake when conditions allow. Van Patten Woods also offers extended ice fishing hours on weekdays: 6:30 a.m. until one hour after sunset.

See the Lake County Forest Preserve Fish Guide Here

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