Chain O'Lakes Fishing

A variety of sport fish awaits anglers and angling has improved in recent years, especially for walleyes, which have been heavily stocked since 1978. Northern Pike and Muskies in the trophy class also are occasionally caught here. As well as Largemouth and White Bass, Crappies, Bluegills, Channel Cat, Bullheads, Carp, and Yellow Perch.

The area provides year-round angling, with ice fishing being very popular during the winter months.

Fox and Pistakee Lakes are the two largest bodies of water on the Chain, encompassing 1,700 acres each. Grass Lake contains 1,350 acres. The area gets much public use, with as many as 60,000 people per day visiting the Chain on summer weekends!

Fisherman and boaters will find a wide array of services and amenities available along the Chain O'Lakes. Tackle, boat rentals, gasoline, dining, and overnight accommodations are available to recreational users of the Chain O'Lakes. Visit the Antioch Chamber Membership Directory on this website to locate the services and products you need.

Lakes of the Chain

Lake Catherine: Consisting of 155 acres with an average depth of 45-feet, this lake located two miles west of Antioch is the "sister" to the larger Channel Lake, directly connected to it. Dense weed growths located there are a favorite target for largemouth bass fishing. Good crappie action also comes through the channels, and the lake is one of the top spots for bluegills. There are two launch ramps in Lake Catherine.

Channel Lake: Good bass and northern pike fishing are associated with this 352-acre lake that provides a half dozen launch ramps and about a dozen operations that allow access. A variety of fish are taken from this deep lake. The bay at the south end where the lake drops off sharply is a good fishing area.

Lake Marie: Many anglers consider this 480-acre lake the top fishing spot on the "Chain." It has a sand bottom and good clarity, averaging about 14-feet deep, with drops going to 35-feet. Located three miles west of Antioch, Marie provides good bass fishing in the channels and weed beds, crappies in the channels, white bass in the channels and along sand bards, northern pike along the north shoreline and walleyes at the drop-offs. Seven launch ramps are situated on the north and eastern sides of the lake.

Lake Bluff: Located south of Lake Marie, this 86-acre lake is good shoreline fishing. There are two launch areas on the southeast and southern shores. Panfishing is good.

Petite Lake: Like Bluff Lake, Petite Lake has 167-acres and is virtually free of water skiers because of its size. Located one-half mile northwest of Lake Villa, the lake is a steady panfish producer. There is good perch fishing and northern pike are frequently taken there. The lake averages about 12-feet in depth and has one launch ramp on the west side. 

Grass Lake: The shallowest lake on the "Chain," Grass Lake averages 3-feet, this 1,360-acre lake is also a popular waterfowling spot. The Fox River empties into Grass Lake and despite its depth, good fishing is found there because of the aquatic vegetation. Some say this lake is one of the best northern pike spots on the Chain. Good bass action also found on the north and south shorelines, and catfish often provide action in the northwest bay. There are eight launch ramps on the southwest and east sides of the lake, and several more north on the Fox River, including a free site at the Chain O'Lakes State Park, a short distance to the west in Antioch.

Fox Lake: Most of the fishing is concentrated around the three large bays (Mineola, Stanton, and Columbia) of this 1,700-acre lake. The Crabapple Island area is also a good crappie and channel cat spot. There are an excellent drop-off and rock bar in Mineola Bay, which holds good numbers of walleyes, white bass, and perch. There are about a dozen launch ramps on the lake, most of them on the southwest side where the lake joins Nippersink Lake and along the south shore. There are also several at the north end.

Nippersink Lake: Nippersink and Fox Lakes often are considered one and the same since they join. Nippersink contains 420-acres and is a connecting body of water between Fox, Grass, and Pistakee Lakes. There are a handful of launch sites on the southeast portion of the lake.

Pistakee Lake: The southernmost lake on the Chain, Pistakee contains 1,700 acres and lies on the McHenry/Lake County boundary. Good walleye, white bass, and channel catfish populations are found there. Though the lake averages and six feet in most areas, Pistakee Bay drops off to a depth of over 30-feet. Meyers Bay is another good fishing area, as is Redhead Lake, a small lake connected to Pistakee via a channel. There are approximately 10 launching rams on the lake, and they are located on the northeast and southwest sides.

Look for the following fish when on the Chain: Yellow Perch, Walleye, Northern Pike, Muskellunge, Largemouth Bass, Bluegill, White Crappie, Black Crappie, White and Yellow Bass, Channel Catfish, Bullheads, and Carp.

Everyone involved with the Fox Chain O'Lakes wants you to enjoy the Chain now and in the future. For more information on permits and licenses, contact the following agencies:

Fox Waterway Agency

45 S. Pistakee Lake Road, Fox Lake, IL 60020

(847) 587-8540


Illinois Department of Natural Resources

Division of Fisheries, Lincoln Tower Plaza

524 South Second, Springfield, IL 62706


Regional Fisheries Office

(815) 675-2385


(Information provided by the Fox Waterway and the Illinois Department of National Resources- IDNR)

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