Exploring Chain O’Lakes Part IV – Fishing

Welcome back to our ongoing series of exploring the Chain O’Lakes and the many water adventures the area offers. In this installment, we're looking at the variety of fish and fishing locations found on the Chain.

The Chain O'Lakes is a premier fishing destination. Species found in the Chain O'Lakes include walleye, largemouth bass, muskellunge, yellow perch, bluegill, catfish, black crappie, bullhead, white bass, yellow bass, carp and northern pike.

The Illinois Department of Natural Resources reports approximately 10% of their annual muskie samples are over 3.5 feet in length. Northern pikes and muskies in the trophy class are also sometimes found in the Chain.

With so many lakes to choose from, first-time Chain fishers have a number of fishing options to choose from. Fortunately, the Fox Waterway Agency provides an overview of the larger lakes that make up the Chain waterway system.

Catherine Lake: "Consisting of 155 acres with an average depth of 45 feet, this lake, located two miles west of Antioch, is the "sister" to the larger Channel Lake directly connected to it. Dense weed growths there are favorite targets for largemouth bass fishing. Good crappie action also comes in the channels and the lake is one of the top spots for bluegills. There are two launch ramps in the lake."

Channel Lake: "Good bass and northern pike fishing is associated with this 352-acre lake that provides a half dozen launch ramps and about a dozen operations that allow access. A variety of fish are taken from this deep lake. The bay at the south end where the lake drops off 

sharply is a good area."

Lake Marie: "Many anglers consider this 480-acre lake the top fishing spot on the "Chain." It has a sand bottom and good clarity, averaging about 14 feet deep with drops going to 35. Located three miles west of Antioch, Marie provides good bass fishing in the channels and weed beds, crappies in the channels, white bass in the channels and along sand bars, northern pike along the north shoreline and walleyes at the drop-offs. Seven launch ramps are situated on the north and eastern sides of the lake."

Bluff Lake: "Located south of Lake Marie, this 86-acre lake is a good shoreline fishing area. There are two launch areas on the 

south-east and southern shores. Panfishing is good. Petite Lake: Like Bluff Lake, Petite at 167 acres, is virtually free of water skiers because of its size. Located one-half mile northwest of Lake Villa, the lake is a steady panfish producer. There is good perch fishing and northern pike are frequently taken there. The lake averages about 12 feet in depth and has one launch ramp on the west side."

Grass Lake: "The shallowest lake on the "Chain," averaging three feet, this 1,360-acre lake is also a popular waterfowling spot. The Fox River empties into Grass and despite its depth, good fishing is found there because of the aquatic vegetation. Some people think the lake is one of the best northern pike spots on the complex. Good bass action also is found on the north-south shorelines and catfish often provide action in the northwest bay. There are eight launch ramps on the southwest and east sides of the lake and several more north on the Fox River, including a free site at the state park, a short distance to the west."

Fox Lake: "Most of the fishing is concentrated around three large bays (Mineola, Stanton and Columbia) of this 1,700-acre lake. The 

Crabapple Island area is also a good crappie and channel cat spot. There's an excellent drop-off and rock bar in Mineola Bay which holds good numbers of walleyes, white bass and perch. There are about a dozen launch ramps on the lake, most of them on the southwest side where the lake joins Nippersink Lake and along the south shore. There also are several at the north end."

Nippersink Lake: "Nippersink and Fox Lakes often are considered one and the same since they join. Nippersink contains 420 acres and is a connecting body of water among Fox, Grass and Pistakee Lakes. There is a handful of launch sites on the southeast portion of the lake."

Pistakee Lake: "The southernmost lake on the "Chain;' Pistakee contains 1,700 acres and lies on the McHenry/Lake County boundary. Good walleye, white bass and channel catfish populations are found there. Though the lake averages about six feet in most areas, Pistakee Bay drops off to a depth of over 30 feet. Meyers Bay is another good fishing area, as is Redhead Lake, a small lake connected to Pistakee via a channel. There are about 10 launching ramps on the lake. They are located on the northeast and southwest sides."

Fox and Pistakee Lakes are the two largest on the "Chain," encompassing 1,700 acres each. Grass Lake comprises 1,350 acres of water.

Where is your favorite spot to fish on the Chain? Share in the comments section below.

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