Where (and How!) to Take Your Kids Fishing + Current Restrictions

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 new executive order will include the following modifications effective May 1:
OUTDOOR RECREATION: State parks will begin a phased re-opening under guidance from the Department of Natural Resources. Fishing and boating in groups of no more than two people will be permitted. A list of parks that will be open on May 1 and additional guidelines can be found on the Illinois Department of Natural Resources website. 

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.

Update 2020: 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. In accordance with the stay at home orders latrines, water fountains, and picnic areas will remain closed. Make sure to plan accordingly.

There are also some family-friendly fishing spots that we have gone to or heard of from readers, such as:

Family-Friendly Weekend Events: April 16–18 and Beyond

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 annie@mykidlist.com!

Fishing Shops in the Suburbs

Update May 1, 2020 stay at home order restrictions: Retail stores not designated as non-essential businesses and operations may re-open to fulfill telephone and online orders through pick-up outside the store and delivery.

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!

Anglers Outlet
17036 Oak Park Avenue
Tinley Park, IL 60477
(708) 331-5711
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
(630) 296-2700
Giant outdoor store with tons of fishing gear.

Corley’s Bait Shop
21648 S. Schoolhouse Road
New Lenox, IL 60451
(815) 462-1146
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
(630) 857-3468
Fishing gear, fly tying classes, and fly casting lessons. The company also leads guided kids’ fly fishing trips.

May 2021 Family-Friendly Events

Fishing Connection
7897 W. 159th Street
Tinley Park, IL 60477
(708) 532-1476
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
(847) 593-6424
This fishing store offers online ordering with a plethora of equipment

Lee’s Bait & Tackle
1400 Army Trail Rd
Carol Stream, IL 60188
(630) 830-5337
Small local store with a great selection!

412 W Army Trail Rd 
Bloomingdale, IL 60108
(630) 307-1210
Petco is offering curbside pickup and next day delivery on live bait.

391 W. Irving Park Road 
Wood Dale, IL 60191
(630) 766-7387
Petco is offering curbside pickup and next day delivery on live bait.

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, Menards, 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).
New Ninja Warrior Challenge Course at Walker Park and Playground Renovation

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

Comment below with your favorite fishing spots in the suburbs! And when you go fishing, be sure to share your photos on Instagram with the hashtag #mykidlist.

Thanks so much for reading. You’ll always find tons of outdoor fun for kids here on Kidlist!

About the Author

Nicole Majewski
Nicole and her family live in Bloomingdale. She is a former teacher and now stay at home mom of three adorable kids. Her family loves to be outside, exploring nature and getting dirty. In the winter months, you will find them at the local library or an indoor play place.

4 Comments on "Where (and How!) to Take Your Kids Fishing + Current Restrictions"

  1. I am new to River Forest and looking for places to go fishing with my Granddaughters. Any advice would be greatly appreciated. Thank you!

    • Hi Des, Thanks for your comment and welcome to the area! Did you read the article above? There are suggestions for places to go fishing, tips for what to bring, and tips for when you get there. Let us know if you have any other questions.

  2. Barb Plichta | May 14, 2020 at 8:18 pm | Reply


    Enjoyed the fishing article and wanted to remember the info. How do I print it?

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