Foto de Blake Ruebush.

August 31, 2023

Rainbow Trout – A Fun Fishing Outing for the Family

On Saturday, October 21, 2023, anglers will line the shorelines of nearly 60 ponds, lakes and streams throughout Illinois, anxiously watching the clock. At the stroke of 5 a.m., lines will be cast into the water. It’s Illinois fall trout season!

A man in a short-sleeved, button down shirt and ballcap stands with six children posing with the fish that they caught.
Get ready! Trout fishing is fun for the whole family. Photo by Blake Ruebush.

“Our catchable trout program is a fun and popular family activity, and a great opportunity to introduce children to fishing,” remarked Mike McClelland, chief of the Illinois Department of Natural Resources’ (IDNR) Division of Fisheries. Those interested in taking children trout fishing will appreciate the tips available for Taking Kids Fishing.

“Fall trout season is popular for many reasons,” McClelland continued. “First, simply being outdoors on a crisp, autumn day appeals to many people. And to top it off, trout season offers the chance to reel in a good-fighting, colorful fish, and then close the day with a tasty, freshly harvested meal.” McClelland noted that many people claim that rainbow trout tastes better than many other species.

A man wearing a pullover sweatshirt, camoflage stocking cap, and black glasses takes a selfie with a rainbow trout.
Photo courtesy Steve Beltran.

Native to the Pacific Ocean basin of the United States and Canada, the first rainbow trout stockings in Illinois occurred prior to 1900. Since 1994, the Illinois Catchable Trout Program has offered spring and fall fishing opportunities for rainbow trout at specified water bodies.

“The Illinois Catchable Trout Program is supported, in part, by the revenues raised from the sale of Inland Trout Stamps supporting both the spring and fall trout seasons,” McClelland said. “Annually, IDNR stocks more than 160,000 rainbow trout, with half the fish stocked in the spring and the others released in the fall.”

A middle schoole aged boy sits with his arm around a young boy. Both are smiling as they show the fish that they caught.
You never know what else may lurk in the waters while you are trout fishing. Come prepared for anything! Photo courtesy Steve Beltran.

Rainbow trout released through the Illinois Catchable Trout Program are typically 10 to 11 inches in length. Occasionally, retired brood stock from the hatchery make their way into the stocking, and a few larger fish might be there to surprise you.

Harvesting of trout is prohibited at any stocking site before the legal season opening, which is 5 a.m. on the first Saturday of April and 5 a.m. on the third Saturday of October. In addition, select locations (see Sidebars and sites denoted with an *) have an early catch-and-release trout season beginning two weeks prior to the regular day. Any trout caught must be released during that early trout season.

Pack up the vehicle the evening before and be sure to include plenty of snacks for the family. Then set your alarm clock to rise early for your best chance at a good spot at the lake. With luck you’ll soon hear “fish on” and can start planning your evening menu.

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Submit a question for the author

Question: Hi, is there a link to the IDNR press release on the fall 2023 trout season? Or, a link to the IDNR description of the fall trout season rules? Thanks!

Question: Hi – Your article mentions Saturday October 14th as the opener day, but the article says later the THIRD Saturday in October, which is October 21 this year and the typical opener day. Can you please confirm and also what is the date of the “early”catch and release date this fall? thanks