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ROCK RIVER


Lake Information

County: Ogle

Recreational Amenities

Boat Fishing? Unrestricted

Boat Ramps? Yes

Boat Rental? No

Skiing? No

Swimming? No

Picnicking? Yes

Camping? Yes


There are no zebra mussels in this lake.

Lake Status Summary  ( Full PDF Report )

Click here for a list of all reports.

Species

Rank

Fish Status

CHANNEL CATFISH

Excellent

Channel catfish are extremely abundant in the Rock River in most all areas. In 2017 a survey was done on the Rock River from Dixon to Sterling to check the status of the channel catfish. Data from a total of 244 channel catfish were collected. The largest numbers of channel catfish were collected below the Sterling Lower Dam where there was a catch rate of 8.7 fish/net night. The fish collected ranged in size from 11 to 30.7 inches, with the majority collected (83%) over 16" in length, and 21% of these over 24". This is great news for fishermen looking for good size fish. The largest catfish collected was just over 30" in length and weighed 11.4 pounds. The average weight of the fish collected in this study was 3.78 pounds.

FLATHEAD CATFISH

Excellent

The Rock River is one of the best rivers in the state for catching trophy size flathead catfish. A survey was done in 2018. Sites were all sampled using an electrofishing boat, which is generally less effective at collecting catfish due to their propensity to dwell near the bottom of the river. However, even though electrofishing generally doesn’t target catfish, a total of 108 flatheads were still collected. A total of 72 adult fish were collected, with 42 over 16", 14 of preferred size (over 24"), and 11 of memorable size (over 28"). Six of the fish collected were in the trophy range (over 36"), representing 8% of the adult sample! The majority of the flathead catfish collected were found in the lower end of the Rock River, from Castle Rock State Park to Moline, with the largest number collected near Prophetstown State Park. The average size of the adult fish collected was 20”.

SMALLMOUTH BASS

Very Good

Smallmouth bass are common and abundant in the Rock River. A survey done in 2018 found the overall catch per unit of effort (CPUE) was 0.6 fish/ minute. This is quite good since bass were not the primary target. The Catch/Unit of Effort (CPUE) for stock size fish (those over 7”) was 0.5 fish/ minute. The number of fish over 14” (preferred size) was within the acceptable range. The largest individuals collected were over 18” in length (trophy size) near Prophetstown, as well as near Grand Detour. Other good areas are below the dams in Rockford, Dixon and Oregon.

WALLEYE

Very Good

Walleye are stocked each year into the Rock River to provide a quality sport fishery for this species. Fishing is generally good below the dams and at the mouths of the tributaries. Walleye ranging in size up to and over the state record weight have been caught in recent years in the upper Rock River and the Pecatonica River, a tributary of the Rock near Rockford. A survey conducted in the fall of 2016 near Dixon found a catch rate of .5 fish/ minute with a total of 53 fish of all sizes collected in 110 minutes, well over the target rate for stocking success. The largest collected was just over 5.6 pounds. Fishermen regularly report catching memorable size walleye from Sterling up through Rockford. Best fishing for walleye is in the upper Rock River, north of Rockford however anglers report good fishing near Dixon and at Prophetstown State Park.

Location: The Rock River arises in Washington County, Wisconsin and enters Illinois near Rockton, IL. It flows in a general southwesterly direction for approximately 163 miles before entering the Mississippi River near Rock Island, IL. The river drains 10,280 square miles with about _ of this area in Illinois. The Illinois portion of the river has major population centers at Rockford, Dixon, Sterling/Rock Falls, and Rock Island. The remainder of the Illinois portion of the basin is primarily agricultural. The Rock River has low-head dams at Rockton, Rockford, Oregon, Dixon, 2 at Sterling/Rockfalls, and a split dam at Milan.

History and Status of the Sport Fishery: There are more than 80 species of fish in the Rock River Basin, including several species of sport fish. The most sought after of the sport fish are the catfish, with both channel catfish and flathead catfish abundant and of trophy size. Smallmouth bass and walleye fishing are also popular, and close to 70,000 walleye are stocked each year to support this excellent fishery. Panfish such as bluegill and crappie can be found in some of the back water areas, along with largemouth bass. Northern pike can be found in the northern end of the river near Rockford, but in limited numbers.

Additional Lake Information: There is a closed season on smallmouth bass. All smallmouth bass caught between April 1 and June 15 must be immediately released alive and in good condition back into the waters from which they came.

Contact Information:
IDNR Fisheries Biologist, Karen Rivera
815-732-4261

There were 8 tournaments held on this waterbody in 2018.

Species Total Fish Caught
Channel Catfish 304
Flathead Catfish 42
Largemouth Bass 10
Smallmouth Bass 15