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Fishing For Salmon In Illinois

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All about fishing for Atlantic and coho salmon in IL.

By AA-Fishing Staff Writers

Fishing For Salmon

Illinois offers limited opportunities for salmon fishing, particularly along the shores of Lake Michigan and its tributaries. Several species of salmon can be found in Illinois waters. Prime fishing season is from April through June

Chinook Salmon

One of the most sought-after salmon species in Illinois is the chinook salmon, also known as king salmon. These powerful and impressive fish can reach impressive sizes and provide anglers with thrilling battles. Lake Michigan's deep waters and nutrient-rich environment create the perfect conditions for chinook salmon to thrive. Anglers often target them by trolling with downriggers or casting spoons and crankbaits.

Chinook Salmon, like all Pacific salmon, die after spawning. They grow large and put up a great fight when hooked. Fish for chinook with down riggers to troll around the thermocline. Use flashers, trailed with bait for best results. The current Illinois state record for chinook salmon stands at over 36 pounds.

Atlantic Salmon

Landlocked Atlantic Salmon

Known as the “king of fish”, Atlantic salmon live in both fresh and saltwater, which means they are anadromous. They are renowned for their impressive athleticism, and delectable taste. Native to the North Atlantic Ocean, these fish undertake extraordinary journeys from their natal rivers to distant feeding grounds in the open ocean and back again to spawn. In recent years, the allure of fishing for landlocked Atlantic salmon in lakes has grown in popularity. These are populations of Atlantic salmon that are confined to freshwater environments, like Lake Michigan, are unable to access the sea. Landlocked Atlantic salmon in lakes exhibit similar behaviors to their sea-run counterparts, including feeding frenzies and impressive displays of strength when hooked. Anglers most often target landlocked salmon by trolling open water. The pursuit of landlocked Atlantic salmon also comes with a responsibility. Conservation efforts are essential to ensure the long-term sustainability of these populations. Anglers must follow local regulations, and support habitat restoration initiatives to safeguard the future of this cherished species.

Coho Salmon

Coho Salmon

Another species of salmon found in Illinois is the coho salmon. These coho's can are often more available to be caught during the fall when they migrate closer to the shoreline. These acrobatic fish put up a fierce fight and are highly prized by anglers. Trolling with spoons, plugs, or flies is a popular method for targeting coho salmon.

Coho Salmon are smaller in size compared to other salmon but still provide a thrilling fight when hooked. Coho salmon, also called silver salmon, are another prized species targeted by anglers in Illinois. These fish are known for their aggressive nature and aerial displays when hooked. Coho salmon offer thrilling battles, often leaping out of the water and making blistering runs. They can be caught by trolling or casting near shore areas during their migratory periods. Use small spinners, or bait on a bobber setup. Good bait options include wax worms, minnows, shrimp, and nightcrawlers.

Kokanee Salmon

Kokanee Salmon

Kokanee salmon, a landlocked form of sockeye salmon, can be found in lakes. These fish are prized for their brilliant red color and tasty flesh. They are not the same as the ocean-run salmon species, but they still provide an exciting angling experience. Fish for them around structure with distinct drop-offs and depth changes. Typically kokanee average one to two pounds. They are plankton feeders and very sensitive to water temperature. They school in lakes at depths which remain ideal temperatures. Once this depth is identified, schools can be found where they are easily caught. Use small lures trolled at the appropriate depth. The can also be caught using corn, but the main way they are caught is using flashy lures which they attack when the lure intrudes their space. Kokanee salmon are known for their hard-fighting nature, making them a sought-after catch among anglers. Anglers can target kokanee salmon using techniques such as trolling with flashy lures or using downriggers to reach deeper waters where the fish reside.

If you want to go salmon fishing in Illinois you have basically one choice. But what a choice...Lake Michigan.

Fishing Boats For Rent In IL

Fishing for salmon in Illinois

Atlantic Salmon

Atlantic salmon

World record: 79 lbs 2 oz

State Record: 18 lbs 11.25 oz

Atlantic Salmon

Chinook a.k.a. King

World record: 97 lbs 4 oz

State Record: 37 lbs 0 oz

Coho Salmon

Coho salmon

World record: 33 lbs 7 oz

State Record: 20 lbs 9 oz

Kokanee Salmon

Kokanee salmon

World record: 9 lbs 10 oz

State Record: 7 lbs 5 oz

Click the images and links above for species details.

Illinois State Record Salmon

The state record Atlantic salmon was caught from Lake Michigan.

The state record chinook salmon came from Lake Michigan.

The state record coho salmon was caught in Lake Michigan.

About The Pacific Salmon Family

Pacific Salmon are born in and remain in freshwater streams for the early years of life. The number varies by species. Afterward they migrate to the Pacific Ocean waters where they bulk up and prepare for their once in a lifetime spawning run up the freshwater stream where they were born. They will instinctively return to their birthplace, spawn and die. They are found in the streams which empty into the ocean and adjoining ocean waters.


Salmon fishing waters and information, by state.

AK Salmon Fishing CA Salmon Fishing CO Salmon Fishing ID Salmon Fishing IL Salmon Fishing IN Salmon Fishing MA Salmon Fishing ME Salmon Fishing
MI Salmon Fishing MN Salmon Fishing MT Salmon Fishing NC Salmon Fishing ND Salmon Fishing NE Salmon Fishing NH Salmon Fishing
NJ Salmon Fishing NM Salmon Fishing NV Salmon Fishing NY Salmon Fishing OH Salmon Fishing OR Salmon Fishing PA Salmon Fishing
RI Salmon Fishing SD Salmon Fishing VT Salmon Fishing WA Salmon Fishing WI Salmon Fishing WY Salmon Fishing



Learn the life cycle of salmon

The more you know about the life cycle and seasonal migration of salmon, the more likely you are to be looking in the right area next time you visit Illinois salmon fishing waters. Visit the salmon fishing page for more information about the life cycle of the different species of salmon.

Contribute IL Salmon Fishing Knowledge

If you have information, articles or photos relating to salmon fishing in Illinois, which you would like to see published here, please submit them for consideration.

Best salmon fishing waters in Illinois!