Illinois’ fishing prospects are everything but average or median. The Atlantic Ocean, the Gulf of Mexico, the Mississippi, Wabash, and Ohio Rivers, as well as the Great Lakes and Saint Lawrence Seaway, are just a few of the fish-rich water systems that are easily accessible from Illinois. It’s no surprise that the state is a perennial favorite with anglers around the nation, given the abundance of water bodies surrounding and running through it.
Illinois has more than a million acres of fishing areas, making it a true angler’s paradise. Fish records in Illinois come in many shapes and sizes. Which begs the question, what are the biggest trophy fish ever caught in Illinois? This article uncovers the 10 biggest trophy fish ever caught in Illinois and other fascinating facts.
1. Largemouth Bass – 13 lbs. 1 oz.
On February 15, 1976, angler Edward Walbel caught a 13-pound and 1-ounce largemouth bass at Stone Quarry Lake, the largest ever caught in Illinois. Although largemouth bass typically grow to a maximum length of about 30 inches and weigh between 1 and 20 pounds, their average length is between 13 and 20 inches. In most states, a largemouth that weighs eight pounds or more is regarded as a trophy fish.
2. Striped Bass – 31 lbs. 7 oz.
The largest striped bass ever recorded in Illinois was caught at Sangchris Lake, which now holds the state record. Eric Shivers’ catch on May 23, 1994, weighed 31 pounds, 7 ounces. Although they can grow to six feet and weigh as much as 125 pounds, adult striped bass typically grow to a length of two to three feet and weigh between 10 and 30 pounds.
3. Bowfin – 16 lbs. 6 oz.
Another state record fish is the bowfin caught by Charles R. Keller of Sesser on September 23, 1984, at Southern Illinois, Rend Lake. The bowfin caught by Keller weighed 16 pounds, 6 ounces. The bowfin inhabits sloughs, streams, and swamps, favoring plants and slow-moving water. Spawning takes place from April through June, and the female hatches between 23,600 and 64,000 sticky eggs with an eight to 10-day hatching time. The bowfin typically weighs around two pounds, and the typical length ranges from 15 to 27 inches.
4. Atlantic Salmon – 18 lbs. 11.25 oz.
The only salmon species found in the Atlantic Ocean is the Atlantic salmon, and it is also the second-largest salmon species, weighing an average of 8 to 12 pounds and measuring 24 to 32 inches in length. Atlantic salmon, sometimes referred to as the “King of Fish,” is a salmon that lives in fresh and saltwater. Robert Lueckhoff of Downers Grove caught the Illinois record Atlantic salmon on May 26, 1979, in Cook County’s Lake Michigan waters weighing 18 pounds and 11.25 ounces.
5. Brown Trout – 36 lbs. 11.5 oz.
Deva Vranek caught the 36-pound, 11.5-ounce monster brown trout from Lake Michigan on June 22, 1997, setting a new state record for Illinois. The common species of trout can be found in freshwater and saltwater. In reality, sea trout and brown trout belong to the same species. While sea trout reside in the sea, brown trout spend their entire lives in freshwater. Compared to other fish, brown trout are typically larger, with the typical size ranging from 2 to 10 pounds and 14 to 24 inches.
6. Hybrid Bass – 20 lbs 0.32 oz.
The largest hybrid bass in Illinois was caught in Lake of Egypt. David B. Gjelsvik’s catch weighed 20 pounds and 0.32 ounces on June 20, 1993. The term “hybrid bass” refers to striped bass that has been mated with any other Moronid species, with white bass being the principal species bred with striped bass.
The hybrid striped bass averages 15 to 20 inches in length as an adult. They rarely weigh more than 10 pounds but can reach 22 pounds occasionally. Most hybrids that are caught range in size from two to five pounds.
7. Chinook Salmon – 37 lbs.
The 37-pound Chinook that Marge Landeen captured on August 7, 1976, in waters inside Lake County, set an Illinois record. Adult Chinook salmon feed on pelagic invertebrates and other fish in the coastal waters where they reside. The Chinook salmon, which typically reaches lengths of 36 inches and weighs 30 pounds, is the largest species of salmon found in the Pacific Ocean. However, some Chinook salmon can grow to be more than 110 pounds and more than 60 inches long.
8. Coho Salmon – 20 lbs. 9 oz.
The Illinois Department of Natural Resources (DNR) records that Carry VandeVusse caught the 20-pound, 9-ounce Coho on May 24, 1972, in Lake County. Coho salmon can be found in most coastal rivers and streams from Alaska to central California and throughout the entire North Pacific Ocean. They are most prevalent in coastal regions of North America, from central Oregon to southeast Alaska. Coho salmon adults typically measure 24 to 30 inches long and weigh 8 to 12 pounds. Usually, they spawn when they are three to four years old.
9. Channel Catfish – 45 lbs. 4 oz.
Todd Baumeyer caught the 45-pound, 4-ounce Illinois state record channel catfish on February 7, 1987, at Baldwin Lake in Randolph and St. Clair counties. Average mature channel catfish are at least 12 inches long and weigh two to four pounds. The channel catfish with the world record weight was a 58-pound fish caught in South Carolina in 1964.
10. Sauger – 5 lbs. 12.5 oz.
Bill Rolando caught the 5-pound, 12.5-ounce sauger – and held the Illinois record – from the Mississippi River in Jo Davies County on July 30, 1967. Saugers range in size from tiny to medium. The largest sauger ever caught was 21.8 inches long and weighed eight pounds. They typically weigh one pound and are 12 to 13 inches long.