Are there catfish in the Illinois river?

Are there catfish in the Illinois river? If so, how should I try to catch them?

Yes indeed, there are. You’ll find flathead and channel catfish all over the Illinois River. Channel cats have been the river’s main commercial fish for many years. The most common catfish in the river weigh anywhere from 2 to 10 pounds, although channels as big as 15 pounds and flatheads as big as 30 pounds are often pulled out as well. The best ways to catch channel cats in the river include juglining, trotlining and setting basket traps. Local fishermen say that the best time to catch catfish in the Illinois is in the winter time, not summer. You can also pull quite a few fish out of the river during the spawning season in the early spring. The river has lots of murky channels flowing out of it, and these are the best places to do your catfishing. Drop your line right where the channel comes off the river for best results. One thing you won’t find in the Illinois River is a blue catfish. Although there are some tall tales and big fish stories going around the local bait and tackle shops, nobody has ever found evidence of the big blue whiskerfish in the great Illinois. Like usual, you’ll find catfish prowling near the bottom of the river, and coming to the shallows when it’s feeding time. Use the same type of bait as you would anywhere else; stinky, live bait like cheese, chicken livers, shrimp and other fish. You can find lots of nightcrawlers and good bait fish at the edge of the river to put on your hook.


Dan Eggertsen is a fellow catfish fishing enthusiast to the point of obsession. :) He's been providing solid advice on catfish fishing since 2004.

2 Responses to “Are there catfish in the Illinois river?”

  1. Micah Hardin says:

    There are huge blue cats in parts of the Illinois. Down in the Grafton/ Alton Illinois area. The bighest Blue cat ever cought was caught near the mouth of the illinois river,in the great rivers region. I dont know about further north, but closer to Mississippi their are monsters.

  2. jake thompson says:

    yes there are definately blue cats in the illinois, i have caught several over the years, i live in peoria and fish the local area frequently, i assure you there are big blue cats

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