My favorite memories of my dad and I were fishing off the dock or by the pond at the Mallard Lake Forest Preserve. There’s something about fishing that lures families together to create memories outdoors! It isn’t just teaching your child to fish that creates a bond. It’s the calm, quiet moments in nature. This peaceful tranquility is something my e-learning, screen-loving kids need in their lives right now.
We have all the help you need picking a great spot, getting the right materials, and how to put it all together. The weather is changing and it is the perfect time to head outside and learn to fish!
The key to fishing is coming prepared. Here’s what you need to bring, a few tips to get you started, and where to go fishing in the south and west suburbs.
Local Fishing Spots, Shops, Tips, and Essentials
Where to Fish in the South and West Suburbs
The Cook County, DuPage County, and Will County forest preserve websites have awesome information on where to take kids fishing and what kinds of fish are in each body of water.
- Forest Preserve District of Cook County Fishing Information
- Forest Preserve District of DuPage County Fishing Information
- Forest Preserve District of Will County Fishing Information
Update 2021: The links above have great maps and detailed information about each location, but be sure to check that your fishing spot is open before you go. Closures in DuPage County can be found here: DuPage Forest Preserve District. Closures in Cook County can be found here: Cook County Forest Preserve District. Will County closures can be found here: Will County Forest Preserve District.
There are also some family-friendly fishing spots that we have gone to or heard of from readers, such as:
- Central Park (Oak Brook)
- Dean Nature Sanctuary (Oak Brook)
- Mayslake (Oak Brook)
- Lakeview Nature Center (Oakbrook Terrace)
- Martin Park Pond (Hickory Hills)
- Dolphin Lake Park (Homewood)
- Mallard Lake Forest Preserve (Hanover Park)– with my review!
- Turner Pond (Roselle)
- Lake View Park (Bloomingdale)
- Barth Pond (Downers Grove)
- Robert Bernas Park (Westmont)
If you and your family enjoy fishing at another location, please let us know by commenting at the end of this article or emailing Annie at firstname.lastname@example.org!
Bait Shops and Fishing Supplies in the Suburbs
Check out these local store for buying bait and fishing gear. Ordering supplies online and having them shipped to your house is also a great option. You can even buy live bait online and have it delivered to your doorstep!
17036 Oak Park Avenue
Tinley Park, IL 60477
In addition to fishing supplies, you can also get insight into local spots to fish, help obtaining a fishing license, and more.
Bass Pro Shops
709 Janes Avenue
Bolingbrook, IL 60440
Giant outdoor store with tons of fishing gear.
Corley’s Bait Shop
21648 S. Schoolhouse Road
New Lenox, IL 60451
This local bait shop is in the same building as Jack’s Automotive and stocks live bait, fishing accessories, and other gear.
DuPage Fly Fishing Co.
1512 N Naper Boulevard, Suite 136
Naperville, IL 60563
Fishing gear, fly tying classes, and fly casting lessons. The company also leads guided kids’ fly fishing trips.
7897 W. 159th Street
Tinley Park, IL 60477
This fishing tackle pro shop has been outfitting fishing enthusiasts since 1995.
Lee’s Global Tackle
1010 E. Higgins Rd.
Elk Grove Village, IL 60007
This fishing store offers online ordering with a plethora of equipment
Lee’s Bait & Tackle
1400 Army Trail Rd
Carol Stream, IL 60188
Small local store with a great selection!
Petco is offering curbside pickup and next day delivery on live bait.
412 W Army Trail Rd
Bloomingdale, IL 60108
1400 75th St.
Downers Grove, IL 60516-4313
199 S. Rte 83
Elmhurst, IL 60126
1885 S. Randall Rd.
Geneva, IL 60134
160 South Mannheim Road
Hillside, IL 60162
4161 N Harlem Ave
Norridge, IL 60706-1211
1660 Orchard Gateway Blvd.
North Aurora, IL 60542
2204 South Harlem Ave.
North Riverside, IL 60546
7265 W. Lake Street
River Forest, IL 60305
3853 East Main St.
St Charles, IL 60174-2400
23 Danada Square E.
Wheaton, IL 60189
6300 Robert Kingery Highway
Willowbrook, IL 60527
391 W. Irving Park Road
Wood Dale, IL 60191
What to Bring When Fishing with Kids
- Fishing License: To fish in the state of Illinois, you need to obtain a state fishing license. Illinois resident fishing license cost is $15 and can be obtained online through the Illinois Department of Natural Resources.
- Fishing Pole: Child-sized poles are typically inexpensive. You can find them at Target, Dick’s Sporting Goods, and Bass Pro Shop, as well as many of the fishing stores listed in the bait section above.
- Hooks and Bobbers: First, check the fishing pole to see if a hook and bobber is included. The bobber is a ball tied onto the fishing line. When it goes underwater, it signals that something is attached to your line!
- Tackle Box: You’ll be able to purchase a small tackle box wherever you find a fishing pole. Just a few extra supplies are needed such as extra line, fishing hooks, bobbers, plastic worms, needle-nose pliers (to help remove the hook from the fish), a small first aid kit, and sunscreen. (Seriously, don’t forget the sunscreen.)
- Bait: “Take Me Fishing” has a great guide to fishing with live bait. Here’s a tip: if you are bringing live worms as bait, use plastic to-go cups (such as the ones used at restaurants to hold condiments).
More Tips for Taking Kids Fishing in Chicagoland
If you are fishing in a boat or near deep water, it is a good idea to have your child wear a life jacket. Make sure to wear a hat or sunglasses and have a cooler packed with water. And wear bug spray!
Check out your local library for some books on fishing. Looking through the books together will get your kids excited to fish.
Remember: fishing takes patience. Relax and enjoy the beauty of nature and your surroundings. Pack water, food and snacks to keep everyone happy.
To help fish survive after you’ve caught and released them:
- Use barbless hooks
- Use a landing net
- Keep the fish in the water until you’re ready to release them
- Wet your hands
- Hold the fish upside down while you remove the hook
- Remove the hook quickly
- Cut the line if you can’t remove the hook
- Don’t touch the gills
Thanks so much for reading. You’ll always find tons of outdoor fun for kids here on Kidlist!