If you don't know how to access many of the rivers in northern Illinois, it means you've been looking in all the wrong places or haven't been looking at all. The links on this page will get you to maps and information that will help you in finding river access points. Maps are key to river access, so be prepared to print them all out. Links to information on specific rivers are at the bottom of this page, so read all the way down.
First off, you have to have a license:
The funny thing about the IDNR site is that for fishing info it's pretty useless. You can get all the basic info from their fishing section, but if you actually want to know where to go fishing, you're better off going to their camping and hunting sections. You get maps. The hunting section is for the explorers out there. You should look through as many hunter fact sheets as you can find for the areas you like to fish. Each fact sheet has an attached map. You can figure it out from there.
One of the most important things to have is an Illinois Gazetteer. If you're going to rely on a GPS unit of some kind, it's not good enough. There's something about having detailed maps, especially in book format like the Gazetteer, that beats GPS hands down. You can't draw all over or make notes on your GPS unit. Post-its with more notes on them stick better to the map pages. Besides, you can sit with it in your lap and page through each map, daydreaming of a day on the water. Kind of hard to do with a GPS unit.
Second most important thing to know how to use is Google Maps. Type in a name, look for access points. Doesn't get any simpler than that.
Lastly, long before anyone even heard of the word blog, there were forums. Important here are fishing forums. In the Chicago area, which also incorporates areas well outside Chicago, there are two that I visit and rely on myself. They are:
I will be adding more to this set of links and the links to the other river access pages below as I keep finding more information. If you take your time and go through as many of them as possible, you should have no problem finding some river to fish somewhere in northern Illinois.
My home river:
Fish the Fox
Other rivers I fish, now and then:
Fish the DuPage