Below is a few of our favorite spots. If you have a favorite spot you would like to add let us know.
Lasalle Fish and Wildlife Area [IND.]
Located off Indiana 41 and state rd. 10, the Lasalle Fish and Wildlife area is a top choice for the boating and especially the shorebound bowfisherman.
Located on the Kankakee river just over the Illinois state line. The bayous in the Lasalle area are full of carp year round. Plus there are several boat launches that will give you access to the backwater bayous and the Kankakee river.
The fish can be in any of the bayous at any time. While some of the backwaters are full of thick silt making wading difficult, others have a firm bottom structure and wading in the clear water is easy. Located off Indiana 41 and state rd. 10, the Lasalle Fish and Wildlife area is a top choice for the boating and especially the shorebound bowfisherman. Located on the Kankakee river just over the Illinois state line. The bayous in the Lasalle area are full of carp year round. Plus there are several boat launches that will give you access to the backwater bayous and the Kankakee river. The fish can be in any of the bayous at any time. While some of the backwaters are full of thick silt making wading difficult, others have a firm bottom structure and wading in the clear water is easy.
DesPlaines Conservation Area
There are several backwaters here of the Kankakee and DesPlaines rivers. Close and easy to find. I55 south to the Wilmington exit. At the stop, take a right and you are in the park.
There are several access areas for shore walking. If you go as far as you can go to Blodget Rd., a “T” at the end of the exit rd., you would take a left. Travel till you see a backwater on your left, and one to the right. Parking is on the one to the left.
This BW is off the 3K. Walk its shoreline at sunup, and you will see plenty of fish. some waders will allow you to access more areas, and get further out to splashing feeding fish in the pads. The backwater opposite, across the street is the DesPlaines river backwater. Lots of carp, but the water smells of rotten eggs. Never wade here, as the bottom is thick silt that will trap you. It is like quicksand.
Now, if you go toward the boat launch/ramp, you will see its parking lot. Next to the lot is a gravel road that runs along a backwater. There are pull off parking spaces along the road. This backwater is clean, and holds the biggest Buffalo of the river system. A easy shore to walk in the summer time.
Shore walking is great fun, and a good way to get started in bowfishing, and this area is made for it. Start early, just as the sky lightens, and you will do well. There are several unimproved gravel ramps in these backwaters that you can use to launch small boats.
Kankakee River DCA to the Illinois by Boat
I have been on this stretch of river more than any other. The DesPlaines Conservation area has a boat launch, concrete ramp, and floating dock. It has been under construction for a year, but someday it may be a good one. You can still use the one ramp they have open, and pull your boat on shore. I55 to the Wilmington exit, go west into the park, and take a left where the boat ramp sign tells you to.
The bowfishing here is great, with several different areas to try. Just downstream from the ramp is bardwell island, and a couple smaller islands. These islands have good flats around them, and alot of vegatation fish feed on. The flats yield good smallmouth buffalo under the lights, with an occasional bigmouth buffalo up to 30 lbs.
In the daytime, feeding carp are your quarry. Very skiddish while feeding, you have to be as still as you can as you ease your boat up to these fish. downstream of bardwell is a cut between the islands. In the spring, carp, but mainly wild goldfish invade this weedy shallow water for spawning. while the fish are plentyful during the spawn, the shooting is anything but easy, as the water is the color of chocolate milk, with the same visability, and the fish are thrashing and moving fast. Across from this area is a long backwater. Few weeds, but good size carp and buffalo can be taken there. At the end, longnose gar can be found.
Under the lights, the river shoreline is all pretty good, but in the daytime, not many are found along the main channel. At the end of the river, where it meets the Illinois, is a very large backwater. There are no trespassing signs along the mouth of it…..ignore them, as this is a 100% backwater, part of the river system, and open to all. [Had some land owners try to tell me it was theirs last year…..] A good early spring spot as the waters are warmer, possibly due to the warm water discharge across the river. Lots of good sized carp, but the bigmouth buffalo are huge in there. 15-30 lb fish are common. Lots of american lotus grow in there, and it is productive all year round. The carp spawn is something to see…..literally thousands of fish all over turning the water into mud. Good longnose gar are found in there also. THE top spot on the 3K river for year round bowfishing.
Illinois River – Starve Rock to the Vermillion
The Illinois is THE premier bowfishing spot in the state in my opinion. We are going to look at it in sections, starting with this popular area.
Starved Rock State Park has a great boat ramp, but opens at 4:30 AM, and closes at 9 pm. And they will tow or lock you in. That reduces the amount of night bowfishing time if you put in there, but it is a great part of the river. Just downstream from the dam are some good islands that you might want to check, but be careful as there are alot of rocks in this area. Go around the islands and check the shoreline for good buffalo and gar. Going downstream from there, check all the flats inside the channel markers for big silvers and bighead carp. These are great spots, and you never know when they will start flying around you. Watch the shoreline, but at night keep your eyes in your lights. You will see several grain elevators along the river. Check these areas and downstream of them, as there always are alot of big buffalo and silvers feeding there. The most active ones will have a sour smell of fermenting grain in the air. Check all the cuts in the shoreline, and just off the shoreline for gar.
That brings us to the Vermillion river. Its alot cleaner, so people used to shooting in clean water should be happy there. Go up the river about 15 ft from the shoreline. Lots of gar in there, but they are fast. You have to be good at snap shooting as they like to roll on the surface and dive. I was in there at one time with 3 boats, 6 – 7 bowfishermen, and only 3 fish were taken……out of the hundreds that were rolling around the boat. There is alot of big grass carp in this area also. Going across from the the Vermillion to the other side of the river, you will find a nice backwater/creek area. Its always good for a few silvers or bighead carp. Next……Peru to Henry!
Fox Lake Ackermans Channel
Submitted by BA of IL official, Mike.
Ackermans channel is one of my favorite places to bowfish. Its quite long and fish are EVERYWHERE. Just across from Captains Qrts on Ackermans is a bay with gravel shoreline. During the day fish can be found mouthing out in the middle of this bay. During the morning and evening they are right on shore feeding. Careful at what fish you shoot because there are some big drum that feed with the commons. Further up the channel are some cattails and downed timber. Fish can be found here any time of day feeding up next to the logs. There are 4 outlets for this channel, two to Fox Lake and two to Grass Lake. The channel that passes by The Port of Blarney is good in warmer weather. There is alot of current going through here and the carp stack up in the trees. The next outlet that goes out onto Grass Lake is amazing during the spawn. Lily pads on one side going to a 3-4ft channel with a steep shoreline on the other side. Fish are extremely wary and easily spooked. When you go out to the bay on Grass Lake you are in for a treat. Before the lily pads grow to thick, tens of thousands of carp can be seen spawning across a few acres. Shot my biggest carp here. It was a female full of eggs pushing 30lbs. Many doubles and triples can be had. Once the lily pads grow in it gets more difficult. Fished are spooked as the boat hits the pads but fish are still there. There is an adjacent dead end channel that is nudged in between. It is one of the deeper channels. Lots of carp are here during the summer. Most are mouthing in the middle in pods of around 5-10. Then towards the evening, work the shoreling. This channel is great during peak boating season as the water is usually the clearest on the south end of the chain. Most fish I have shot in either of these channels are at or above 10lbs.