The trout fishing season in the Forest Preserves of Cook County starts at dawn Saturday, April 5.
Catchable-sized rainbow trout (one-half to three-fourths pounds average) are being stocked this week into Axehead Lake, Belleau Lake, Horsetail Lake and, new this year, Green Lake.
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As part of the stocking process, from March 15 until 5 a.m. on April 5, fishing for and possession of any trout is illegal. In addition, the trout lakes are closed to all fishing from Monday, March 31, until dawn on April 5. The lake closings allow the trout to disperse throughout the lakes prior to opening.
Because of unfavorable lake conditions caused by the extreme winter cold and snow, the forest preserves will not be stocking Sag Quarry -- East as usual. Staff will instead stock deeper Horsetail Lake. (Severe, long winters can naturally create anaerobic conditions that result in "winter fish kills," particularly in shallower water bodies. Fisheries staff are monitoring the situation as the ice melts over the next weeks.
Once the season opens, there is a five trout per day creel limit with no size restrictions. No more than two lines per person with no more than two hooks per line may be used. A valid Illinois sport fishing license with an Inland Trout Stamp is required for anglers 16 years of age and older.
An Illinois sport fishing license is not required for Illinois residents who are disabled and have a state of Illinois disabled ID card showing a Class 2 or 2A disability or a Veterans Disability Card, or Illinois residents who are on active military duty and are home on leave.
The forest preserves will be purchasing and stocking approximately 1,250 pounds of rainbow trout for Axehead Lake; 1,250 pounds of rainbow trout for Belleau Lake; and 500 pounds of rainbow trout for Horsetail Lake; while the Illinois Department of Natural Resources will be purchasing approximately 700 pounds of rainbow trout for Green Lake. The Forest Preserve Fishing Guide lists all of the lakes and waters open to public fishing within the Forest Preserves of Cook County. The guide includes maps that show the location and depths of each lake, and list principal fish species. The guides are available at www.fpdcc.com/fishingguide. For information, call (708) 403-6951.