Illinois Catchable Trout Program

Three years ago I put up a post that does a decent job of treating the Illinois Catchable Trout Program like the joke that I think it is. I actually wrote it 15 years ago but never bothered doing anything with it till then.

Illinois Catchable Trout Program or Fishing in Hell

Since Illinois has no native inland trout, I can’t find anything that says it ever did, trout native to California are imported here and then placed in rivers, lakes and ponds that get too warm to support them and they eventually die.

That’s why the stocking for this program occurs in early spring and fall. Maybe the water will stay cool enough for them to survive a little while.

In the mean time, fishermen are charged a fee for the privilege of going out and catching these trout and you can keep and kill five of them I believe on a daily basis.

I think money better spent would be on trout from a half way decent fish market, at least then you stand a better chance of getting fish meat that doesn’t look kind of gray and doesn’t smell and taste a bit like cat food.

Spring and fall are when some native Illinois fish are aggressively active, like crappie and bluegill, so why not catch them. Plus, they taste much better then trout.

But I hear there’s a lot of nostalgia surrounding this program and I found out at many a dam removal meeting that nostalgia always wins over logic and reason.

So the chances of making this program go away is probably nil.

Though I don’t do it much, I do know how to fish lakes and ponds. A couple of decades ago, when I was in a rod and gun club in Virginia and had access to three private lakes, I read about and fished lakes a lot, at least out there.

One of the books I have is about catching big bass. It’s packed in a box somewhere and I don’t remember the exact name or author. You’ll have to figure out how to search on this sparse info.

The guy that wrote it lives out in California.

The reason bass get so big in the lakes in California is because one of their favorite meals is rainbow trout. High fat content and all.

The reason this guy catches so many big bass, among other reasons, is because he uses things that look and act like rainbow trout.

I tried these techniques on the one spring fed lake in Virginia where we threw in handfuls of rainbow trout every now and then.

Worked like a charm.

I can understand the pleasure of fishing for these trout here in Illinois. On a good day they fight a little better then a wet sock.

But this is a bass state after all, small and large mouth.

So, while fishing for rainbow trout, I think fishermen should reconsider taking these bland tasting things home for dinner.

I think they should gently and quickly release these trout back in the water from where they came.

Chances are the waters where these trout are being caught are already full of small and large mouth bass.

Chances are the fishermen will be back later in the year to fish for those bass.

Why not release all those trout year after year and let the bass eat them, year after year.

Imagine the size of the bass we’ll be catching in a few years.

So, here’s the new name for this changed program:

Illinois Catch and Release Trout Program.

Only this one will have a slogan:

Feed the Bass.

17 thoughts on “Illinois Catchable Trout Program

  1. Dan "The Impractical Fishermen"

    Those stocker trout are way too big for the stunted CCFP lakes, and even if they put fingerlings in they would die mid summer. I think they should start a shad stocking program (a local high nutrient food source all but gone from most lakes near Chicago), and expand the invasive plant/fish removal programs if they really want something to change. Maybe add four hours of semi-supervised habitat clean up to get the privilege to fish. There are so many things a semi-logical sportsmen can see are plainly wrong with the system it is not even funny.

    1. Ken G Post author

      Dan, I already tested this out on the Apple River. They have foot long creek chubs that would we catch, hook up and catch big bass that would have the whole chub down there throats. The stockers I catch aren’t that much bigger, so I think it will work. Especially on any bass hitting the six pound mark.

      1. Dan "The Impractical Fishermen"

        And the creek chubs are in that river year long, unlike the trout that die off. So why not plant creek chubs? Big bass need to eat a lot to keep up growth in a population. The trout in the reservoirs near me are there year round and the bass have enough space (in non-flood years) to not get caught before they grow. The inland trout program is a waste of money.

  2. Jim McClellan

    I like your plan. We don’t get fresh trout down here, but the times I’ve had them up north, they were excellent. I wonder if it’s the different habitat.

    By the way, do people really line up shoulder-to-shoulder to fish like that?? I’m not sure I could handle that.

    1. Ken G Post author

      I haven’t seen it that bad Jim, but close. I can’t fish like that either, what’s the point.

      These stocked fish just aren’t that good eating. The ones out in Virginia lasted year to year because of the cold springs feeding the lake and by then all the cat food pellet flavor was out of them. Baked with a little onion, garlic and olive oil they were excellent.

  3. walt

    That picture of the crowd says it all, Ken. That’s why rainbows have become the national factory fish to keep the hordes buying licenses.

  4. Ken G Post author

    In a state that whines and moans about non-native species in all their waters Walt, they don’t seem to mind putting in the ones they can make a buck off of.

    1999 was the year I wrote the Fishing in Hell post. The last time I participated in this fiasco ended soon after that.

  5. Olaf

    Add pike to that slogan. Any rainbow too big for a local bass to swallow would be just right for a big pike (or muskie) looking to get bigger.

    1. Ken G Post author

      Absolutely Olaf. Saw that that happen with a big creek chub on the Apple River once. I was too stunned to ever bother setting the hook. A pike in that river I did not expect.

  6. bob

    batter-dipped or coated in some sort of bread-like substance, with a side of some sort of reddish or creamy-like dipping sauce seems to make just about anything (including most species of fish) absolutely “delish” to the taste buds of many an American fisherman. Cooked as such, most people haven’t the vaguest idea what they are eating, can easily be fed freshwater drum and be told its Lake Perch, and will tell you how much they love Perch.

    To most people, a crowd of people means “somethin’ good must be goin’ on over by dere. Let’s go join ’em.” I think of them as crowds of lions during the annual wildebeest run, or bears during the salmon run – ya’ simply gotta’ be there, or you’ll die of starvation (not true of humans but we still have the ancient dna markers that may say that to us).

    Even fly fishermen, those notorious loners, aren’t really. They are herd-ish too, just in smaller groups, but they don’t like fishing alone as much as portrayed. Look at the fishing packages to both local and far flung locales – go in a group, sleep and eat in a group, but have just enough room to “feel” isolated and remote without really being so.

    (We all, really do wish to show off our impressive catches to each other.)

    To the curmudgeonly few (yours truly included) scenes like the trout roundup above (our version of herd up the prey and run them off cliffs) means “run away the other direction.” We are, thankfully, in the minority, and thus our little corners of the fishing world remain largely empty of other fishing humans.

    1. Ken G Post author

      A first time fish for the plate is always simply baked Bob. I want to know what it really tastes like before I slather it with stuff the second time.

      I saw a guy the other day with his kid. Parked in the lot, walked the straightest line to the pond, probably like hundreds of others before him. The whole time the kid was watching me suit up in my waders and I kept looking back as I headed into the woods. The kid kept watching me.

      I’ll probably run into him out on a creek in a couple of years.


    Geeeze your getting crabbier. I don’t get the issue. What isn’t there to like about standing shoulder to shoulder and tossing some neon colored powerbait, filling up your trunk with trout and going back for more after you already caught your 5 man limit ten times over? Hater

  8. bob

    there must be a name for the syndrome of where you read something good, find out it’s your writing, you are surprised it is your writing as you, a.) don’t remember writing it, and b.) are surprised it reads well, and c.) feel a little proud of yourself and wanna read more of your ancient writings.

    Just be glad, just be glad, O Scrooge of the Fox River, these hordes aren’t smallmouth bass in river waders. I can see you up on some bluff, in a protected cover of leaves and brush, giggling fiendishly, dropping M224A1 mortar rounds down on the unsuspecting hordes fishing your runs.

    the writing holds up marvelously by the way (or is that btw for the young’uns?)

    1. Ken G Post author

      Funny you mention that Bob. I’ve been reading my stuff here and then see what else it suggests I go read and then I do that.

      Some I don’t remember, some I am proud of and a few really make me cringe.

      I’ve done a good job the last few years of not promoting the Fox much. Hardly run into anyone out there any more. And when I do, it’s never a young guy. I don’t get that.

  9. Benjamin Jenkins

    I think this is a great program. I have fished five different places and all but one were packed with too many fisherman. The one place I found that i love to fish that is not to crowed, I have always caught my limited of five since 2009.

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