Welcome to I Fish Illinois!

Ken Russell, IDNR Fisheries Biologist

With great sadness we are reporting that the Division of Fisheries has reached the end of an era. IDNR District Fisheries Biologist Ken Russell has officially retired as of June 30. Ken began as a district fisheries biologist with the Division on November 1, 1962, and from that moment shaped what became an exemplary career. Ken is probably most well known for his work on pond management, as well as for mentoring numerous young biologists and students, both in the IDNR and in universities. And, of course, Ken's great love of aquatic education outreach is considered one area where he was unsurpassed. There is no facet of this Division that Ken hasn't touched with his wisdom, knowledge, experience, work ethic and enthusiasm. All who have come in contact with Ken are far better for that experience. He will be irreplaceable and sorely missed.

Alligator Gar Reintroduction Program

Alligator Gar is the largest fish native to Illinois. With records dating back to prehistoric years, this species had not been seen in the state since the last documented Alligator Gar catch in the Cache River cutoff channel in southern Illinois in 1966. Alligator Gar were officially declared extinct in Illinois in the 1990s. The program had a brief hiatus in 2014 – 2015, but times are changing, and this program is once again becoming active with more research backing up this stocking initiative to help ensure success of survivability. Read more about this program here.

2016 Top 100 Family Friendly Places to Boat and Fish

Four Illinois spots have been been recognized among the 2016 Top 100 Family Friendly Places to Boat and Fish in the U.S. according to Take Me Fishing. This campaign initiated the nationwide vote to provide families and outdoor enthusiasts with a recommended list of the best family-friendly places to experience the joys of boating and fishing as the weather warms up around the country. Criteria for the top places to fish and boat included having a public body of water within driving distances of a major city with good fishing opportunities and family-friendly amenities. Those areas that received this honor were: Chain O'Lakes State Park, Starved Rock State Park / Illinois River, Carlyle Lake, North Point Marina / Lake Michigan .

Northern Pike Stocking in Chicago Area Waterways

IDNR stocked 2000, 5-inch Northern Pike in the North Shore Channel in May and another 2090 at the end of June. The Pike stocking is part of a plant re-introduction project in Chicago Area Waterways (CAWS). Although water quality has improved in CAWS, habitat remains a limiting factor in many areas of the system. Friends of the Chicago River, in partnership with the IDNR, received a grant from the Chi Cal River Fund to install native emergent vegetation in the North Shore Channel and the North Branch of the Chicago River as habitat for fish and other aquatic species, which creates stands of high-quality habitat for aquatic organisms, protects the shoreline from bank erosion, creates shelter for aquatic life during floods, and improves the aesthetics of the channel for recreational users. Northern Pike, a fish species associated with aquatic vegetation, will take advantage of the new habitat and provide opportunities for urban anglers. Thanks to our fine hatchery staff for providing these beautiful, healthy fish.

Boating Safety Classes

Throughout the year, many people operate motor-driven watercraft on the Illinois waters and many operate for the first time. We encourage individuals – both novice and experienced – to take the course.

Did you know:
– No person under 10 years of age can operate a motorboat
– Age 10 and up to 12 years can operate only under guardian control
– Persons at least 12 and less than 18 years may not operate a motorboat with over 10 horse power without a valid Boating Safety Certificate.

There are two ways to take the course:
Online (click here or here for more info) or
Instructor-Led (Listing of education courses by county).

Stop the Spread of Invasive Species

Remove, Drain, Dry: As the boats come out of storage, we'd like to remind you to be aware of invasive species that pose a threat to our lands and waterways. To fight the spread of aquatic invaders, the IDNR is asking residents to "be a hero transport zero." The best way to stop the spread of invasive species is to remove, drain, and dry your boats after use in any Illinois waterway. Learn more here.