Walleye, Sauger & Saugeye Fishing In Illinois
Guide To Fishing For Walleye, Sauger & Saugeye
Walleye prefer moderately deep lakes with gravel, rock or sandy bottoms. It is found primarily in cold water lakes but has proven to survive in warmer impoundments. It is prized for its great tasting filets. IL walleye, sauger and saugeye waters. Walleye are often caught in rivers. In fact the Illinois state record walleye came from the Kankakee River.
The purpose of this page is to share basic information about walleye, saugeye and sauger fishing and identify popular walleye waters in the state. Illinois offers excellent options for walleye fishing, with anglers targeting both walleye and its close relatives, the sauger and saugeye. These prized game fish are known for their delicious meat and challenging nature, attracting anglers from near and far.
Watch this video for walleye tips and tactics.
Walleye, the most sought-after species among the three, can be found in several lakes and rivers throughout Illinois. Popular walleye fishing destinations include the Illinois River, Fox River, and Rock River. These rivers provide ample habitat for walleye, which are known for their nocturnal feeding habits and preference for deeper waters. Anglers often use techniques such as casting with jigs or live bait, trolling with crankbaits, or drifting with minnows to entice these elusive fish.
Sauger, a close relative of walleye, is another popular species targeted by anglers in Illinois. Sauger are known for their aggressive nature and their preference for river systems. They can often be found in the same areas as walleye, especially in the Illinois River and its tributaries. Anglers typically use similar techniques and baits to target sauger as they would for walleye, taking advantage of their feeding patterns and habitat preferences.
Saugeye, a hybrid species resulting from the crossbreeding of walleye and sauger, can also be found in some Illinois waters. These hybrids combine the best characteristics of their parent species, offering anglers an exciting angling experience. Saugeye can be found in lakes and reservoirs where they are stocked, such as Lake Shelbyville and Clinton Lake. Anglers can target saugeye using similar techniques as walleye and sauger, capitalizing on their aggressive nature and preference for minnows or other live baits.
State records for walleye, sauger, and saugeye in Illinois reflect the potential for anglers to land impressive catches. The current state record for walleye stands at over 15 pounds, caught in Pecatonica River. For sauger, the state record is over 5 pounds and saugeye records are also notable, with the current record weighing over 9 pounds.
Whether casting in rivers or trolling in lakes, walleye fishing in Illinois offers a thrilling angling experience for both seasoned anglers and beginners. With a variety of lakes and rivers to explore and the potential for trophy-sized catches, Illinois is a fantastic destination for walleye enthusiasts. Anglers can immerse themselves in the beauty of the state's waterways while pursuing these highly sought-after game fish.
Illinois Fishing Walleye Lakes
However, the vast number of walleyes are caught from reservoirs. They like cold deep water and can be found in many lakes in Illinois including Clinton Lake, Evergreen Lake, Fox Chain O' Lakes, Heidecke Lake, Kinkaid Lake, Lake Carroll, Lake Decatur, Lake Mattoon, Lake Michigan, Lake Shelbyville, Lake Springfield and Lake Taylorville. Several lakes in the state, mostly north of I-80, offer ice fishing in winter.
World record: 25 lbs 0 oz
State Record: 15 lbs 1 oz
World record: 17 lbs 7 oz
State Record: 5 lbs 12 oz
World record: 15 lbs 6 oz
State Record: 9 lbs 10.88 oz
Click the images and links above for species details.
Top lures for walleye in Illinois
Jigs with a variety of trailers and bait work well in virtually any depth water. When walleyes are shallow, spinnerbaits, small crankbaits and rip baits are the often very productive. As they move deeper, spoons are ideal for active walleye. Understanding the seasonal movements of walleyes can enhance your chances of selecting the right lures for conditions on local waters.
Illiunois State Walleye Records
The state record walleye was caught out of Pecatonica River.
The state record sauger came from the Mississippi River.
The state record saugeye was taken out of the Mississippi River.
Fishing For Walleye
This toothy fish will eat virtually anything it can catch and get in its mouth. They prefer small fish and will eat crustaceans, worms and insects. They tend to be somewhat wary and prefer the safety of deeper darker water. Trolling for walleye with deep diving crankbaits, jerkbaits, spinners and live bait provides a way to cover vast areas and locate concentrations of fish. Use of planer boards allows anglers to cover water out both sides of the boat while trolling. Try fishing for walleye from sundown to midnight, particularly during the heat of summer.
Walleye spawn in spring and when they have the option will choose to migrate from the lake up into feeder streams to spawn. If this option is not available they seek out shallow bars or shoals with clean bottom surfaces near deep water.
Fishing For Sauger
Closely related to the walleye and similar in appearance, sauger are generally smaller than walleye, reaching 4 to 5 pounds (or more) and up to about 20 inches. Often found in muddier rivers, it thrives in larger, silty lakes. They spawn in the shallows at night, without creating or guarding specific nests.
Fishing For Saugeye
This hybrid is created by mating sauger with walleye. The walleye influence allows the hybrids to grow larger than sauger, often to sizes equaling walleye. Saugeye tend to survive best in turbid/silty water and are caught in the same general areas and habitat populated by walleye and sauger.
Illinois walleye spawn in spring and when they have the option will choose to migrate from the lake up into feeder streams to spawn. If this option is not available they seek out shallow bars or shoals with clean bottom surfaces near deep water.
Also find information about walleye, sauger or saugeye fishing in these states.
Learn the migration patterns of walleye
Walleye become active in spring and begin the spawning process in medium-depth water. As summer arrives they move to deeper, cooler water. In fall walleye migrate into shallower water again and feed aggressively preparing for their move to deeper water where they will spend winter.