Fox Waterway Agency Fishing
A variety of sport fish await anglers and angling has improved in recent years, especially for walleyes which have been heavily stocked since 1978. Northern pike and muskies in the trophy class also are occasionally caught there, as well as largemouth and white bass, crappies, bluegills, channel cat, bullheads, carp and yellow perch.
The area provides year round angling, and ice fishing is popular during the winter months.
Fox and Pistakee Lakes are the two largest bodies of water on the "Chain," encompassing 1,700 acres apiece. Grass Lake contains 1,350 acres. The area gets much public use, with as many as 60,000 people visiting on summer weekends.
Closeups of the major lakes follow:
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.
Chain O'Lakes Profile
Location: The Chain O'Lakes is located in northeastern Illinois in Lake and McHenry Counties between Antioch and McHenry. Facilities: There are about 60 fee launching areas, around 30 boat rental operations, a half dozen private camping spots and various resort-motel-hotel operations that provide lodging on the lake.
Chain O'Lakes State Park provides added camping. Showers, electricity and two disposal stations are located on the Class A grounds. A free launch ramp also is situated on the west bank of the Fox River just north of Grass Lake. Additionally, there are three ramps at Oak Point, which is just east of the Fox River bridge on Route 173. It also has camping. Rental boats and a concession are available at Chain O'Lakes Park.
The Fox chain O' Lakes offers many species of fish.
To see the Fishing Fact Sheet for the Fox Chain O' Lakes
This document contains geographic information, species information and limit info.
To view the Chain O'Lakes Fishing Guide.
Click Here. (1.6mb)
To view the Fox River Fishing Guide.
Click Here. (708kb)
To view The Illinois Fishing Guide & Regulations document
Click Here. (6.13mb)
To view The Fox Chain O' Lakes GPS Fish Crib Locations Click Here.
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Fox Waterway Agency
45 S. Pistakee Rd.
Fox Lake, Il. 60020,
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