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Fox Chain O'Lakes

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WATER CONDITIONS: End of spring, better weather expected. Summer heat is here. Best fishing is early (first hour) and late (last hour) in the day... Continued

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Fox Chain O'Lakes is a Lake in McHenry, Illinois.

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The Chain O'Lakes is a waterway system in northeast Illinois composed of 15 lakes connected together by the Fox River and man-made channels. Encompassing more than 7,100 acres of water, 488 miles of shoreline and 45 miles of river, the Chain is the busiest inland recreational waterway per acre in the United States.[1] Located on the border of Lake County and McHenry County, about an hour's drive from the cities of Chicago, Milwaukee, and Rockford, the lakes are popular with boaters and fishermen drawing weekend crowds of 3,000 and holiday crowds of 10,000 people.[2] Additionally, the Chain O'Lakes includes Chain O'Lakes State Park which borders three lakes at the Northwest corner of the system.
The following table lists the sizes (and depths if given) of nine of the fifteen lakes on the Chain. The information provided is from the Fox Waterway Agency website.
Lake Name Area (acres) Avg. Depth (ft)
Catherine Lake 155 45
Channel Lake 352 -
Lake Marie 480 14
Bluff Lake 86 -
Petite Lake 167 12
Grass Lake 1,360 3
Fox Lake 1,700 -
Nippersink Lake 420 -
Pistakee Lake 1,700 -

Fishing Description: 

The Chain O'Lakes is a preferred destination for fishermen as well. Species found in the Chain O'Lakes include walleye, largemouth bass, muskellunge, bluegill, catfish, black crappie, bullhead, white bass, yellow bass, carp, and northern pike. The Illinois Department of Natural Resources report that approximately 10% of their annual muskie samples are over 3 feet, 6 inches long. Northern pikes and muskies in the trophy class are occasionally caught on the Chain

Recreational Activities: 

The Chain O'Lakes allows for a wide range of outdoor recreational activities, including boating, hunting, fishing, birdwatching, swimming and water skiing. To complement these activities are many local businesses (including numerous marinas and restaurants) that serve the needs of weekend and summer vacationers. Many of these businesses sponsor special events throughout the summer, including boat races, fishing tournaments and live musical performances. Boating horsepower is unrestricted on the Chain and there are more than 28,000 registered boats on the Chain

Facilities and Parks: 

Recreational opportunities are also provided through Chain O'Lakes State Park and the adjacent conservation area. Established in 1945, Chain O'Lakes State Park includes a free boat launch and a variety of hunting, hiking and fishing areas. The park includes Turner Lake, a small 44 acre lake in the park isolated from the Chain itself. Inside the park are four different trail systems, including a quarter-mile trail designed for disabled individuals and an eight mile equestrian trail. Chain O'Lakes State Park also offers a number of camp sites and cabins available for a low nightly fee. Horse rentals and boat rentals are provided throughout the summer months.


The Chain O'Lakes also hosts a variety of winter activities, including snow mobiling, ice skating, cross-country skiing and ice fishing.

Fox Chain O'Lakes
Waterbody type: 
United States
Standard elevation: