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'2004 Illinois Fishing Information'
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[MARCH 13, 2004]  SPRINGFIELD -- Illinois fishing regulations for the new season are outlined in the 2004 edition of the "Illinois Fishing Information" guide, a free publication from the Illinois Department of Natural Resources. The publication includes statewide and site-specific regulations in effect beginning April 1.

"Illinois is a great place to fish, and anglers can look forward to a great experience while fishing in the state this season," said Illinois Department of Natural Resources Director Joel Brunsvold. "There is a lot of useful information on places to fish and fishing regulations in this year's booklet. We encourage those who fish or are thinking about fishing to pick up a copy, review it and keep it in their tackle box as they head out to their favorite fishing spots."

The fishing information booklet is available at hundreds of locations throughout the state where Illinois fishing licenses are sold, including bait shops, sporting goods stores and Illinois Department of Natural Resources offices. The text of the guide is also available on the Web at (click on "Fishing" on the right side of the home page). New regulations being implemented for the 2004 season take effect on April 1 and are highlighted throughout the text of the guide.

State fishing regulations are reviewed annually, and some are adjusted based on biological surveys that focus on the status of fish species in Illinois waters.

One change in regulations of interest this year involves the bass fishery in Lake Michigan. Anglers will be allowed to keep up to one bass per day if the fish is at least 21 inches in length, according to Mike Conlin, chief of the IDNR Division of Fisheries. Previous regulations have permitted catch-and-release fishing only for all largemouth and smallmouth bass, to help boost their populations in the Illinois waters of Lake Michigan.

"The bass population in Lake Michigan is doing very well," Conlin said. "Reproduction and growth were excellent again in 2003. The change in regulations for this year should have no adverse biological impacts."

Lake Michigan anglers are also reminded that yellow perch fishing is closed in July. At other times anglers have a daily limit of 15 perch, and no perch may be taken by people fishing from charter boats.

"Fisheries managers remain concerned about the yellow perch population in Lake Michigan," Conlin said. "The closed season in July helps protect older, larger female perch. There is some evidence that younger perch have survived better in recent years. Keeping the July restriction in place allows more time for recruitment of younger perch, and this will help build the population."

Elsewhere in Illinois, a regulation implemented last year regarding smallmouth bass remains in place for 2004. To protect spawning bass, regulations allow only catch-and-release fishing for smallmouth bass from April 1-June 15. A statewide catch limit of three fish per day for smallmouth bass applies the rest of the year. The regulation does not apply to lakes and reservoirs.

Among other specific regulations changes for 2004 are new daily catch limits for channel catfish in Chicago Park District lagoons and lakes. Anglers will now be permitted to take up to four channel catfish per day at Auburn, Columbus, Douglas, Garfield, Gompers, Humbolt, Jackson, Lincoln (both north and south lagoons), Marquette, McKinley and Washington parks. The previous daily limit was six fish.

On the Illinois River at the Starved Rock and Marseilles pools in LaSalle and Grundy counties, new limits for largemouth and smallmouth bass allow taking one fish per day with an 18-inch minimum length limit, and there is a limit of 10 fish per day for striped, white or hybrid striped bass and white, black or hybrid crappie.

On the Iroquois and Kankakee rivers in northeast Illinois, new regulations for walleye, sauger and hybrid walleye allow taking up to three fish per day with a 16-inch minimum length limit.


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On the Mississippi River between Illinois and Iowa, the tailwaters of Lock and Dam 12 (to Mill Creek) and of Lock and Dam 13 (to the downstream end of Stamp Island) are closed to all fishing Dec. 1-March 15. Also, snagging for paddlefish is permitted Jan. 1-April 15 within a 500-yard downstream limit below locks and dams (except that the tailwaters of Lock and Dams 12 and 13 are closed Dec. 1-March 15). The daily limit is two paddlefish.

Another regulation change on the Mississippi River between Illinois and Iowa involves walleye and sauger. The new regulation allows taking up to six fish per day with a 15-inch minimum length limit and a 20- to 27-inch protected slot limit. The daily limit of six fish may include no more than one walleye greater than 27 inches in total length.

Numerous other statewide and site-specific regulations changes have been made for the 2004 season. Bodies of water listed in the guide that are new this year include Anna City Lake in Union County; Casey Park Pond in Clark County; Cypress Creek ponds and the portion of the Cache River from Route 37 to Route 51 in Johnson, Pulaski and Union counties in southern Illinois; Franklin Creek Mill Pond in Lee County; Germantown Lake in Clinton County; Hurricane Pond in Fox Ridge State Park in Coles County; Ponderosa Lake in the Mazonia State Fish and Wildlife Area in Grundy County; Sunset and Shadow lakes in the River Bend Forest Preserve, Champaign County; Sesser City Lake in Franklin County; and Siloam Springs State Park's Buckhorn Unit waters in Brown County. Anglers can review these and all other changes in site-specific regulations in the fishing information guide.

A section of the guide reminds anglers to be alert for aquatic nuisance species such as Asian carp and zebra mussels. Anglers are also reminded of the statewide ban on possession of live specimens of listed injurious species of aquatic life, including all species and subspecies of snakehead fish, walking catfish, zebra mussels, river ruffe, black carp, round and tubenose gobies, rusty crayfish, and rudd. The complete list of injurious species and the ban on possession of them were established in regulations implemented in 2003.

The guide also includes a list of places to fish in Illinois, a review of fishing prospects, meal advice for eating fish caught in Illinois waters and details on North American and Illinois state record fish.

Anglers are required to have a valid Illinois fishing license in their possession at all times while fishing in the state. An annual resident sport fishing license is $13; for anglers age 65 and older the fee is $6.75. Those under 16 years of age, blind or disabled or residents who are home on leave from active military service do not need a fishing license.

Nonresidents may buy an annual Illinois fishing license for $24.50 or a 10-day nonresident fishing license for $13. Residents and nonresidents may purchase a 24-hour fishing license for $5.50. Annual licenses expire on March 31 each year. Fishing licenses and stamps may also be purchased online, using a credit card, through

The spring catchable trout season opens at 5 a.m. on Saturday, April 3. In addition to any required license, people fishing for trout must also buy an inland trout stamp. Trout may not be legally taken prior to the spring season opener at 5 a.m. on April 3. The fall catchable trout season will open at 5 a.m. on Oct. 16.

Illinois' annual "Free Fishing Days" observance is June 11-14. During the four-day free fishing promotion, anglers can fish without a license, inland trout stamp or salmon stamp.

Complete details on Illinois fishing regulations, including statewide and site-specific regulations, are available on the Web at

[Illinois Department of Natural Resources news release]

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