IDNR Announces Summer Urban Fishing Clinics

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Kids Fishing ActivitiesClinics provide free fishing instruction and fun for kids
(“Access to Fishing” gear also available)

SPRINGFIELD, IL – Youngsters are invited to learn to fish and have a great time outdoors this summer by attending a free Illinois Department of Natural Resources (IDNR) Urban Fishing Program fishing clinic, planned for more than 40 locations throughout the state. 

In addition to the fishing clinics, the IDNR provides fishing opportunities to anglers of all ages through the popular “Access to Fishing” initiative in which fishing gear can be borrowed at dozens of locations statewide.

“Our free Urban Fishing Clinics have been a big hit for years, and have helped introduce thousands of kids to the fun of fishing each summer,” said IDNR Acting Director Sam Flood.  “Experience tells us that once young people get some basic instruction, get a chance to fish, and feel a tug on the line, they are hooked on fishing.”

The free Urban Fishing Program clinics are targeted toward children ages 16 and younger, but anyone interested in learning basic fishing techniques may attend.

“During the past 23 years, the Urban Fishing Program has evolved into one of the more popular programs we offer,” said IDNR Southern Illinois Program Coordinator Mark Yehling.  “Each year, thousands of children take advantage of the program and learn the basics of fishing and get a chance to experience Illinois’ wonderful outdoors.”

Fishing clinic instructors present information on fish and other aquatic life, rules and regulations for fishing, as well as basic instruction on baiting a hook, tying a knot, casting, and how to handle and return fish to the water.  As part of each clinic, participants are provided with rods, reels, bait and tackle for 90 minutes of catch-and-release fishing.


Urban Fishing Clinics are presented on weekdays during the late spring and summer months.  In addition to the scheduled clinics outlined below, fishing clinics can also be arranged for scouts, seniors, civic clubs and groups with special needs.

Science and physical education teachers interested in starting a fishing program in their schools can also contact the IDNR Urban Fishing Coordinator in their area to get more information.

“We hope that the positive experience the program provides will encourage kids to take up fishing as a great way to spend time in the outdoors,” Yehling said.

The Illinois Urban Fishing Program was introduced in Chicago in 1985 to teach individuals of all ages to fish, to provide better local fishing opportunities, and to give participants an understanding of and a greater appreciation for natural resources.  The backbone of the program consists of the free summer fishing clinics that include fishing at nearby stocked ponds.  Urban Fishing Program coordinators also hold non-fishing Conservation Education Programs and visit schools during the fall, winter, and spring to teach and promote fishing and the appreciation of natural resources.

The IDNR Access to Fishing program provides loaner fishing gear to anglers of all ages.  The loan program provides the opportunity to borrow rods, reels and tackle packs.  Participating loaner locations include many public libraries, park and forest preserve districts, bait shops, recreation departments and other locations.  A list of sites offering access to fishing gear is available by checking the web site at or by phoning the IDNR Urban Fishing Program at 217/782-6424.

The schedule of 2008 Urban Fishing clinic dates, locations and contact information is listed below:

Chicago Area
June 18 – August 22
Chicago Park District Lagoons

  • Columbus
  • Gompers
  • Humboldt/Douglas
  • Jackson
  • Marquette
  • McKinley
  • Sherman
  • Washington

            (Contact: Brenda McKinney, 847/294-4137)              

Northern Illinois   Note: Due to the lack of Clinic Instructor applicants, the clinics listed below for the Rockford/Belvidere, Moline and Peoria areas have been delayed until qualified Clinic Instructors can be found. 


Anyone interested in applying for a summer Clinic Instructor position in the Rockford/Belvidere, Moline and Peoria areas should contact Michele Cusumano, One Natural Resources Way, Springfield, IL 62702-1271  217/782-1274 or e-mail: Michele [dot] Cusumano [at] illinois [dot] gov.  

  • Riverside Park, Moline (call Moline Park District, 309/736-5714)
  • Butterworth Park, East Moline (Thursdays only – call 309/755-5224)
  • Glen Oak Park Lagoon, Peoria (call Peoria Park District, 309/681-2865)
  • Levings Lake, Rockford (call 815/625-2968)
  • Big Pond, Boone County Conservation District, Belvidere (call 815/624-2968)
  • Mill Race Ponds, Belvidere (call 815/625-2968)

Central Illinois
June 2 – August 1

  • Miller Park, Bloomington (call 309/434-2260)
  • Crystal Lake Park, Urbana (June 9 – August 1 only; call 217/367-1544)
  • Fairview Park, Decatur (call 217/422-5911)
  • Washington Park, Springfield (call 217/753-6224)

Southern Illinois
June 9 – August 8

  • Veterans Park Lake, Mt. Vernon (June 9 – July 3 only, call 618/242-6890)
  • Foundation Park Pond, Centralia (July 7 – August 8 only, call 618/532-4311)
  • SIU Campus Lake, Carbondale (June 9 – July 28 only, call 618/453-6088)
    • Jones Lake at Kenneth Hall Park, East St. Louis (call 618/874-3600 or 618/444-0388)
  • Gordon Moore Park Lake, Alton (call 618/462-1181)

Illinois State Fair
August 8 – 17  

  1. Conservation World – Five clinics daily

Du Quoin State Fair
August 22 – September 1

  1. Conservation Village Aquatic Area – Daily Clinics

Southern Illinois Hunting and Fishing Days
September 20 – 21

  1. IDNR Aquatic Area, John A. Logan College, 9 a.m. – 5 p.m. both days


Several additional clinic opportunities will again be available this year.  Prospective participants should phone ahead for information on the following clinic locations and schedules:

Northwest Illinois Clinics

  1. Lost Nation Lake, Dixon  (815/652-3761)
  2. Lutheran Outdoor Ministries Camp (LOMC), Oregon (815/732-2220)

Central Illinois Clinics

  • Charleston Park and Recreation Department, Charleston (217/345-6897)
  • Eastview Christian Church, Bloomington (309/662-9376)
  • Kennekuk Cove County Park, Danville (217/442-1691)
  • Human Resources Center, Paris (217/465-4118)
  • McLean County Conservation District, Hudson (309/726-2022)
  • Pittsfield Park District, Pittsfield (217/285-4484)
  • Quincy Parks Department, Quincy (217/223-7703)
  • Taylorville Park District, Taylorville (217/824-3110)
  • Watseka Park District, Watseka (815/432-3931)
  • Weldon Springs State Park, Clinton (217/935-0373)

Southern Illinois Clinics

  • Granite City Park District, Granite City (618/877-3059)
  • O’Fallon Parks and Recreation, O’Fallon (618/624-0139)
  • Shawnee Community College “Fish Tales”, Ullin (618/524-2270)
  • Godfrey Parks and Recreation, Godfrey (618/466-1483)
  • Maryville Fireman’s Park, Maryville (618/288-3142)