Catch & Release Trout Fishing Starts Saturday; Official Trout Season Begins April 1

By Benjamin Cox on March 17, 2023 at 10:29am

The 2023 Illinois spring trout fishing season opens on April 1st. Nichols Park in Jacksonville will be one of 58 ponds, lakes, and streams throughout the state that will have trout stocked for harvest.

Jacksonville Parks Superintendent Adam Fletcher says it gives anglers in the area an opportunity to fish for trout when they wouldn’t have an opportunity to otherwise: “There’s a two-week catch-and-release period that begins this Saturday, March 18th and goes up until March 31st. April 1st is when the season opens. After April 1st is when you can take your trout home that you catch. It’s a great program that IDNR has been doing for a few years now. We get trout stocked in the Spring and in the Fall. The only extra requirement is the inland trout stamp must be purchased with your fishing license. What that stamp does is what funds this catchable trout program.”

Fletcher says the more people who purchase the troup stamps, the more fish Jacksonville will get. The Illinois Department of Natural Resources stocks more than 80,000 rainbow trout each year in select bodies of water where trout fishing is permitted during the spring season. They stock an additional 80,000 each October. 

All anglers, including those who intend to release fish caught before April 1, must have a fishing license and an Inland Trout Stamp unless they are under the age of 16, blind or disabled, or are an Illinois resident on leave from active duty in the Armed Forces. The daily harvest limit for each angler is five trout.

Fletcher says that Morgan Lake has a surprising number of trout anglers each season: “Very surprising, we get a lot. If you go out to Morgan Lake in Nichols Park on April 1st, there will be a great crowd out there doing some fishing. I was very shocked. I wasn’t too expectant of a whole lot of people the first year that IDNR brought the program here, but I bet we had 50-75 people out there on the banks of Morgan Lake fishing. It’s a good program. I hope they continue to keep it going.”

Other area locations participating are Gridley Lake at Jim Edgar Panther Creek State Fish and Wildlife Area; Siloam Springs State Park Lake in Adams County, King Park Pond in Pike County; and Illinois Department of Transportation Lake, South Wind Park, and Washington Park Pond in Springfield.