Best Bass Fishing in Illinois

Angler unhooking a medium sized bass, which was caught in a lake in Illinois while bass fishing.
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When it comes to the pursuit of the best bass fishing in Illinois, anglers are in for a treat. The Land of Lincoln boasts a diverse array of fishing opportunities, from the tranquil waters of its scenic lakes to the winding rivers that carve through its picturesque landscapes. Whether you’re a seasoned pro or a novice looking to cast your line, Illinois offers a wealth of prime bass fishing locations to explore. In this guide, we’ll take you on a journey through some of the state’s most renowned bass fishing destinations, share valuable tips, and help you uncover the secrets to landing trophy-sized bass in the heart of the Midwest.



Lake Shelbyville

In the heart of Illinois, Lake Shelbyville stands as a pristine jewel among the state’s natural treasures. Known for its captivating beauty, this expansive reservoir offers an idyllic escape for outdoor enthusiasts and anglers alike. With its sprawling shoreline, diverse fishing opportunities, and rich biodiversity, Lake Shelbyville beckons adventurers to explore its waters and discover its hidden wonders.

Reasons to Bass Fish in Lake Shelbyville:

  • Trophy Bass Potential: Lake Shelbyville is renowned for its trophy bass potential, offering anglers the chance to reel in some truly impressive largemouth and smallmouth bass.
  • Scenic Beauty: Bass fishing at Lake Shelbyville is not only about the thrill of the catch but also the breathtaking surroundings. The lake is nestled amidst lush forests and rolling hills, creating a picturesque backdrop for your fishing adventure.
  • Varied Fishing Opportunities: Lake Shelbyville provides a variety of fishing opportunities beyond bass. While targeting bass, you might also hook crappie, catfish, walleye, and more. This diversity adds an exciting element to your angling experience, keeping you engaged throughout your trip.
  • Accessible Fishing Spots: Lake Shelbyville offers numerous easily accessible fishing spots, whether you’re fishing from the shoreline, a boat, or a kayak. The lake’s extensive shoreline and well-maintained fishing areas ensure that anglers of all levels can find a suitable spot to cast their lines.
  • Year Round Fishing: Regardless of the season, Lake Shelbyville offers year-round fishing opportunities. Whether it’s spring, summer, fall, or winter, you can visit the lake at any time and enjoy bass fishing. Each season presents its unique challenges and rewards, making it a truly versatile angling destination.

Recommended Gear: Fishing Net, Fishing Reel, Lures, Fishing Pliers, Sunscreen, Polarized Sunglasses, Sun Hat


Rend Lake

Rend Lake, nestled in the heart of Southern Illinois, stands as a serene and captivating testament to the natural beauty that graces the American Midwest. With its origins rooted in the confluence of the Big Muddy River and Casey Fork, this expansive reservoir has evolved into a multifaceted jewel of the region, offering an array of recreational opportunities, ecological significance, and a rich history that beckons visitors from far and wide.

Reasons to Bass Fish in Rend Lake:

  • Large Bass Population: Rend Lake boasts a thriving population of largemouth and smallmouth bass, making it an ideal destination for bass anglers. The lake’s fertile waters provide excellent conditions for bass growth, ensuring you’ll have numerous opportunities to land quality catches.
  • Consistent Year Round Fishing: Whether you visit in spring, summer, fall, or winter, Rend Lake offers year-round bass fishing opportunities. Each season brings its own unique angling challenges and rewards, ensuring that you can enjoy bass fish year round.
  • Family Friendly Recreation: Rend Lake isn’t just about fishing; it’s a family-friendly destination with amenities like campgrounds, hiking trails, and picnic areas. So, while you’re casting your line, your family can also enjoy the natural beauty and recreational activities the area has to offer.
  • Picturesque Scenery: Surrounded by scenic woodlands and wetlands, Rend Lake provides a stunning backdrop for your bass fishing adventure. The tranquil atmosphere and beautiful vistas make it an enjoyable place to relax, unwind, and appreciate the natural beauty of southern Illinois while pursuing your passion for bass fishing.
  • Diverse Fishing Techniques: Rend Lake offers anglers the opportunity to employ a variety of fishing techniques. Whether you prefer casting topwater lures in the shallows, working deep diving crankbaits around submerged structures, or finesse fishing with soft plastics, Rend Lake’s diverse fishing environments allow you to experiment with different methods.

Recommended Gear: Fish Finder, Fishing Rods, Pliers, Terminal Tackle, Tackle Box, Polarized Sunglasses, Hooks


Kinkaid Lake

Kinkaid Lake, cradled within the picturesque landscapes of Southern Illinois, is a hidden treasure that beckons nature enthusiasts, outdoor adventurers, and seekers of tranquility. Nestled amidst the Shawnee National Forest, this enchanting reservoir, formed by the Kinkaid Creek, offers a captivating blend of natural beauty, recreational opportunities, and a unique ecological tapestry. Spanning over 2,750 acres, Kinkaid Lake is a haven for fishing, boating, hiking, and wildlife observation.

Reasons to Bass Fish in Kinkaid Lake:

  • Stunning Scenery: Kinkaid Lake is nestled in the Shawnee National Forest, offering beautiful natural surroundings.
  • Quality Bass: The lake is known for its healthy and sizeable largemouth and smallmouth bass population.
  • Diverse Fishing Spots: You can fish along rocky shores, explore coves, and target submerged structures.
  • Year Round Fishing: Bass fishing is enjoyable here throughout the year, with each season providing its unique experience.
  • Accessible Amenities: Kinkaid Lake has convenient facilities like boat ramps, fishing piers, and recreational areas for an enjoyable fishing trip.

Recommended Gear: Fishing Net, Fishing Reel, Lures, Fishing Pliers, Sunscreen, Polarized Sunglasses, Hooks


Lake Springfield

Lake Springfield, in the heart of central Illinois, stands as a testament to the harmonious coexistence of urban living and natural beauty. This expansive reservoir, spanning over 4,200 acres, is a vital water source for the city of Springfield while also serving as a beloved recreational haven for residents and visitors alike. Fed by the clear waters of Lick Creek, this man-made lake has evolved into a multifaceted aquatic playground, offering an array of outdoor activities, scenic vistas, and a rich history that enriches its allure.

Reasons to Bass Fish in Lake Springfield:

  • Urban Oasis: Lake Springfield offers an urban fishing experience, conveniently located near the city of Springfield. It’s an accessible escape for anglers seeking a quick getaway without venturing far from city amenities.
  • Diverse Fishery: In addition to bass, Lake Springfield is home to a variety of fish species, including crappie, catfish, and bluegill. This diversity ensures you can enjoy a mixed bag of angling experiences.
  • Shoreline Opportunities: Anglers without boats can still enjoy productive bass fishing from the lake’s shoreline, thanks to accessible fishing spots and well-maintained parks.
  • Fishing Events: Lake Springfield hosts various fishing events and tournaments throughout the year, offering competitive anglers a chance to test their skills and win prizes.
  • Scenic Reservoir: While fishing, you’ll appreciate the scenic beauty of Lake Springfield, with its clear waters, wooded shores, and opportunities to spot local wildlife. It’s a peaceful setting for a day of bass fishing.

Recommended Gear: Terminal Tackle, Comfortable Clothing, Hooks, Lures, Tackle Box, Fishing Net, Sunscreen


Evergreen Lake

Surrounded by lush woodlands and rolling hills, this man-made lake is a sanctuary for those seeking respite from the bustle of everyday life. Its crystalline waters invite visitors to partake in a myriad of activities, from boating and fishing to hiking along scenic trails. The lake’s diverse ecosystems support a thriving array of wildlife, making it a captivating destination for birdwatchers and wildlife enthusiasts.

Reasons to Bass Fish in Evergreen Lake:

  • Crystal Clear Waters: Evergreen Lake is known for its exceptionally clear waters, providing anglers with the opportunity to witness bass striking their lures and experiencing the thrill of the catch in vivid detail.
  • Sustainable Fishery: The lake is managed for sustainable fishing, which means you can expect a healthy bass population and good-sized catches year after year, making it an excellent destination for consistent angling success.
  • Scenic Kayak Fishing: Kayak enthusiasts will find Evergreen Lake to be a prime spot for kayak bass fishing. Its calm waters, diverse aquatic structure, and beautiful surroundings create an ideal environment for kayak anglers.
  • Family Friendly: Evergreen Lake offers family-friendly amenities, such as picnic areas, playgrounds, and hiking trails, making it an enjoyable destination for anglers and their families to spend quality time together.
  • Educational Opportunities: The lake hosts educational programs and workshops on fishing and conservation, providing valuable insights and learning experiences for both novice and experienced anglers. It’s a place to not only catch bass but also expand your knowledge of aquatic ecosystems.

Recommended Gear: Fishing Net, Fishing Line, Lures, Sun Hat, Tackle Box, Fishing Pliers, Dry Bag


Carlyle Lake

Carlyle Lake, situated in the heartland of Illinois, is a sprawling aquatic gem that has become a vital part of the region’s landscape. As the largest man-made lake in Illinois, this majestic reservoir spans over 26,000 acres and is a testament to the harmonious convergence of natural beauty, recreational opportunities, and essential water resource management. With its vast expanse of water and 11,000 acres of public lands, Carlyle Lake offers a diverse range of activities, from boating and fishing to camping and hiking.

Reasons to Bass Fish in Carlyle Lake:

  • Giant Bass: Carlyle Lake is renowned for its trophy-sized bass. Anglers have the chance to reel in some truly massive largemouth and smallmouth bass, making it an enticing destination for those seeking impressive catches.
  • Waterfowl Hunting: In addition to bass fishing, Carlyle Lake offers excellent waterfowl hunting opportunities. This dual-purpose destination allows you to enjoy both fishing and hunting in one location, making it a versatile choice for outdoor enthusiasts.
  • Island Hopping: Carlyle Lake features several islands, providing anglers with the opportunity to explore various fishing environments. Each island offers a unique angling experience, from shallow coves to deeper waters, ensuring you’ll never run out of exciting places to fish.
  • Year Round Fishing: Carlyle Lake provides year-round bass fishing opportunities, allowing you to enjoy the sport no matter the season. Whether it’s the challenge of winter angling or the warmth of summer, Carlyle Lake has something to offer anglers throughout the year.
  • Recreational Activities: Beyond fishing, Carlyle Lake offers a range of recreational activities such as camping, boating, and hiking. It’s a destination that caters to outdoor enthusiasts of all kinds, ensuring a well-rounded and enjoyable experience for all visitors.

Recommended Gear: Fishing Rod, Fishing Reels, Lures, Fishing Line, Tackle Box, Fishing Net, Polarized Sunglasses


Fox Chain O’Lakes

The Fox Chain O’Lakes, situated in the scenic landscapes of Northern Illinois, is a captivating natural wonder that has been a cherished recreational haven for generations. This interconnected network of lakes and waterways, encompassing more than 7,000 acres, forms a labyrinthine aquatic playground, offering an array of opportunities for boating, fishing, water sports, and outdoor exploration.

Reasons to Bass Fish in Fox Chain O’Lakes:

  • Chain of Lakes: Fox Chain O’Lakes is a network of interconnected lakes and waterways, providing anglers with a variety of fishing environments. You can explore different lakes and discover unique bass fishing opportunities within the chain.
  • Abundant Species: Along with bass, the chain is home to various fish species, including pike, walleye, and crappie. This diversity adds excitement to your fishing trips, as you never know what you might reel in.
  • Convenient Location: Situated in Northern Illinois, Fox Chain O’Lakes is easily accessible from the Chicago metropolitan area. It’s a convenient destination for both local and out-of-town anglers looking for a quick fishing getaway.
  • Fishing Events: The chain hosts numerous fishing events and tournaments throughout the year, offering anglers the chance to compete, showcase their skills, and potentially win prizes.
  • Recreational Activities: Aside from fishing, the Fox Chain O’Lakes area offers a wide range of recreational activities, including boating, hiking, and waterfront dining. It’s a versatile destination where you can combine bass fishing with other outdoor adventures and relaxation.

Recommended Gear: Fishing Reel, Sunscreen, Fishing Line, Fishing Pliers, Sunglasses, Fishing Net, Sunscreen


Lake Decatur

This reservoir, covering approximately 2,800 acres, plays a vital role as the primary source of drinking water for the city of Decatur, while also serving as a beloved recreational haven for residents and visitors alike. Formed by the damming of the Sangamon River, Lake Decatur’s origins date back to the early 20th century, when its construction was undertaken for both water supply and flood control purposes. Over the years, it has evolved into a multifaceted destination, offering a seamless blend of practical utility and leisure opportunities.

Reasons to Bass Fish in Lake Decatur:

  • Urban Fishing: Lake Decatur is conveniently located within the city of Decatur, offering urban anglers easy access to quality bass fishing without the need for a long journey to a remote location.
  • Diverse Fishing Environments: The lake provides a mix of fishing environments, from shallow shoreline areas to deeper waters near the dam. This diversity allows you to adapt your fishing techniques and target bass in various settings.
  • Family Friendly: Lake Decatur offers family-friendly amenities such as parks, picnic areas, and walking trails. It’s an ideal place for a day of fishing with loved ones while enjoying the scenic surroundings.
  • Community Support: The local community actively supports Lake Decatur’s conservation efforts and promotes responsible fishing practices, ensuring a sustainable and enjoyable fishing experience for generations to come.
  • Year Round Fishing: Bass fishing is possible year-round at Lake Decatur, making it an accessible destination for anglers in all seasons. Whether you prefer springtime topwater action or winter bass challenges, Lake Decatur caters to your angling preferences.

Recommended Gear: Sunglasses, Fishing Pliers, Lures, Fishing Line, Tackle Box, Sunscreen, Terminal Tackle


Lake Michigan

Lake Michigan, one of the five Great Lakes of North America, is a vast and majestic body of freshwater that holds a special place in the heart of the United States. Stretching across approximately 22,400 square miles, Lake Michigan ranks as the second-largest of the Great Lakes, and its significance extends far beyond its immense size.

Reasons to Bass Fish in Lake Michigan:

  • Great Lakes Trophy Bass: Lake Michigan is known for producing trophy-sized smallmouth and largemouth bass. Anglers have the opportunity to hook into massive bass, with some individuals exceeding 6 pounds, providing a thrilling challenge.
  • Stunning Scenic Views: Fishing on Lake Michigan offers breathtaking scenic views of the vast open water, the Chicago skyline, and picturesque sunsets. It’s an angling experience that combines natural beauty with urban charm.
  • Variety of Techniques: Lake Michigan’s diverse environments, including rocky shorelines, breakwalls, and submerged structures, allow for a variety of bass fishing techniques. Whether you prefer finesse fishing with drop shots or power fishing with crankbaits, there’s a style for every angler.
  • Smallmouth Bass Paradise: Lake Michigan is renowned for its exceptional smallmouth bass fishing. These hard-fighting fish provide exciting battles, making it a top destination for smallmouth enthusiasts.
  • Professional Fishing Events: Lake Michigan hosts professional bass fishing tournaments, drawing world-class anglers. Fishing where the pros compete adds a competitive edge and the opportunity to learn from the best while enjoying your own angling adventures.

Recommended Gear: Fishing Pliers, Fishing Reel, Sunscreen, Swivels, Fishing Net, Tackle Box, Comfortable Clothing


Sangchris Lake

Sangchris Lake, nestled in the heart of Central Illinois, is a secret lake that beckons outdoor enthusiasts and nature lovers to explore its tranquil waters and pristine surroundings. Covering approximately 3,000 acres, this picturesque reservoir is not only a popular recreational destination but also serves as a vital water source for the nearby city of Springfield.

Reasons to Bass Fish in Sangchris Lake:

  • Quiet Seclusion: Sangchris Lake offers a serene and secluded fishing experience, making it a peaceful escape from the hustle and bustle of city life. You can enjoy the tranquility of the outdoors while pursuing bass.
  • Abundant Largemouth Bass: The lake is well-known for its abundant largemouth bass population, providing anglers with plenty of opportunities to reel in these sought-after freshwater predators.
  • Angler Friendly Facilities: Sangchris Lake boasts angler-friendly amenities such as boat ramps, fishing piers, and fish cleaning stations, ensuring a convenient and enjoyable fishing trip.
  • Beautiful Natural Setting: Surrounded by woodlands and wetlands, Sangchris Lake offers a beautiful natural setting that enhances your bass fishing experience. You’ll have the chance to spot local wildlife and enjoy the scenic beauty of Illinois.
  • Variety of Fishing Spots: The lake features a variety of fishing spots, from shallow coves to deeper waters near the dam. This diversity allows anglers to adapt their strategies and explore different environments, adding excitement to each trip.

Recommended Gear: Fishing Rod, Fishing Reels, Lures, Fishing Line, Tackle Box, Fishing Net, Polarized Sunglasses


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