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ROCK RIVER


Lake Information

County: Ogle

Recreational Amenities

Boat Fishing? Unrestricted

Boat Ramps? Yes

Boat Rental? No

Skiing? No

Swimming? No

Picnicking? Yes

Camping? Yes


There are no zebra mussels in this lake.

Lake Status Summary  ( Full PDF Report )

Click here for a list of all reports.

Species

Rank

Fish Status

CHANNEL CATFISH

Excellent

Channel catfish are extremely abundant in the Rock River in most all areas. In 2017 a survey was done on the Rock River from Dixon to Sterling to check the status of the channel catfish. Data from a total of 244 channel catfish were collected. The largest numbers of channel catfish were collected below the Sterling Lower Dam where there was a catch rate of 8.7 fish/net night. The fish collected ranged in size from 11 to 30.7 inches, with the majority collected (83%) over 16" in length, and 21% of these over 24". This is great news for fishermen looking for good size fish. The largest catfish collected was just over 30" in length and weighed 11.4 pounds. The average weight of the fish collected in this study was 3.78 pounds.

FLATHEAD CATFISH

Excellent

The Rock River is one of the best rivers in the state for catching trophy size flathead catfish. A survey done in 2017 collected data from a total of 179 flathead catfish, all over 16", with 119 of preferred size (over 24"), and 74 of memorable size (over 28"). Twenty eight of the fish collected were in the trophy range (over 36"), representing 16% of the sample! The average size of these fish was 28-29" in total length. The majority of flathead catfish were collected from Como, below the Sterling lower dam (0.6 fish/net night), and at Dixon (.57 fish/net night). The heaviest fish collected was 37 pounds and was 41 inches in total length.

SMALLMOUTH BASS

Very Good

Smallmouth bass are common and abundant in the Rock River. A survey done in 2017 found the overall catch per unit of effort (CPUE) was 1.0 fish/ minute. This is good, and indicates plenty of smallmouth bass in the overall fish population. The percentage of adult fish (>11") in the population was 44, which is good and indicates that the strong year classes of 2013 and 2014 are now maturing into the population. Likewise the percentage over 14" was very high (33%), as was the percentage over 16" (21%). There were even a few fish collected that were over 18" (3% of adult fish collected) which is considered a trophy size fish. This is great news for fishermen! The largest individuals collected were found near Prophetstown. Best fishing areas are in South Beloit, below the dam in Dixon, and downstream of Prophetstown State Park.

WALLEYE

Very Good

Walleye are stocked each year into the Rock River to provide a quality sport fishery for this species. Fishing is generally good below the dams and at the mouths of the tributaries. Walleye ranging in size up to and over the state record weight have been caught in recent years in the upper Rock River and the Pecatonica River, a tributary of the Rock near Rockford. A survey conducted in the fall of 2016 near Dixon found a catch rate of .5 fish/ minute with a total of 53 fish of all sizes collected in 110 minutes, well over the target rate for stocking success. The largest collected was just over 5.6 pounds. Fishermen regularly report catching memorable size walleye from Sterling up through Rockford. Best fishing for walleye is in the upper Rock River, north of Rockford however anglers report good fishing near Dixon and at Prophetstown State Park.

Location: The Rock River arises in Washington County, Wisconsin and enters Illinois near Rockton, IL. It flows in a general southwesterly direction for approximately 163 miles before entering the Mississippi River near Rock Island, IL. The river drains 10,280 square miles with about _ of this area in Illinois. The Illinois portion of the river has major population centers at Rockford, Dixon, Sterling/Rock Falls, and Rock Island. The remainder of the Illinois portion of the basin is primarily agricultural. The Rock River has low-head dams at Rockton, Rockford, Oregon, Dixon, 2 at Sterling/Rockfalls, and a split dam at Milan.

History and Status of the Sport Fishery: There are more than 80 species of fish in the Rock River Basin, including several species of sport fish. The most sought after of the sport fish are the catfish, with both channel catfish and flathead catfish abundant and of trophy size. Smallmouth bass and walleye fishing are also popular, and close to 70,000 walleye are stocked each year to support this excellent fishery. Panfish such as bluegill and crappie can be found in some of the back water areas, along with largemouth bass. Northern pike can be found in the northern end of the river near Rockford, but in limited numbers.

Additional Lake Information: There is a closed season on smallmouth bass. All smallmouth bass caught between April 1 and June 15 must be immediately released alive and in good condition back into the waters from which they came.

There were 14 tournaments held on this waterbody in 2017.

Species Total Fish Caught
Channel Catfish 973
Common Carp 146
Flathead Catfish 31
Largemouth Bass 8
Smallmouth Bass 64

Top 5 Bag Weights of Largemouth Bass caught on this waterbody in 2017 tournaments:

1     0.00 lbs
2     0.00 lbs
3     0.00 lbs

Interested in participating in one of these public tournaments? Contact us with tournament ID for more information.

2018 Approved or Pending Tournaments
Start Date End Date
(if different from start)
ID Approval Ramp Location Bank/Boat
Hook/Bow
Max Boats Species Open to Public?
September-3010380ApprovedPage Park - Dixon boat
hook
20Largemouth Bass
Smallmouth Bass
Yes
October-1410381ApprovedPage Park - Dixon boat
hook
20Largemouth Bass
Smallmouth Bass
Yes
November-0310382ApprovedLowell Park - Dixon boat
hook
20Largemouth Bass
Smallmouth Bass
Yes