Fishing Information & Reports
Belleau Lake Facts
Size: 12 acres
Max Depth: 34 feet
Shoreline: 3800 feet (.70 miles)
Location: Busse Hwy 1 mile southeast of Dempster - DesPlaines/Park Ridge
Fish: Largemouth bass, smallmouth bass, bluegill, warmouth, perch, crappie, trout (spring and fall), carp,
Hours: Sunrise to Sunset
Jay's General Comments
Belleau Lake, contructed in 1958, is primarily known as one of the "inland trout" lakes for the State of Illinois' Inland Trout Program. Every April and October the lake is stocked with 1000-1500 rainbow trout that rance in size from 1/2 lb. to sometimes 2lbs. The lake closes for 5 days during the stocking to allow the fish to acclimate. The days of the "trout opener" and following finds the lake very crowded, especially opening day when it can litteraly be elbow to elbow with fishermen. The inland trout program is designed so that anglers can keep the fish with a daily creel limit of 5 fish. The trout usually last for about 2 weeks, with the majority taken in the first few days. A valid Illinois fishing license with a trout stamp are required and will be checked during the trout seasons.
Since 1999 smallmouth bass have been stocked annually at Belleau Lake. Aprox 1800 fish each year, "fingerling" to 3" in size. It would seem that this lake would be a great place for smallmouth bass as it is deep and rocky. I managed one small smallmouth bass on a Senko in September of 2007. They are slow-growing fish so hopefully there will be a good smallmouth bass fisherie in the coming years at Belleau Lake.
There is a fair largemouth bass population. I've caught several small ones casting along the shoreline with soft plastics. Crappie and warmouth are also present in good numbers.
Belleau Lake has fairly clear water that almost always seems to have a light-blue tint. The lake gets very deep quickly and has little in the way of any workable structure or weeds. The entire shoreline is accessible to the shore fisherman. There are some shoreline weeds and cat-tails, but that's about it. The north tip of the lake gets shallow and often huge carp can be seen in this area.
No boats are allowed on Belleau Lake.
Spring 2011 Inland Trout Opener: April 2, 2011
The Illinois Inland Trout Program kicks off this spring on Saturday, April 2, 2011. Belleau Lake will be stocked with rainbow trout which generally range in size from 1/2lb to 2lbs. The trout are meant to be kept and consumed and are generally considered very delicious. It's a great opportunity for kids to get out and catch some quality fish and enjoy a family fishing experience.
A valid Illinois fishing license is required WITH an inland trout stamp. This is essential and you WILL be checked - count on it. Here's a link to purchase a license and stamp. These can also be purchased at local sporting goods and bait stores.
The limit for fish kept is 5. FIVE! This does not mean you can take 5 into your cooler then go back for more. You can take 5 per day and this limit is strongly enforced too.
The gate at Belleau Lake will be closed during this week as the fish are being stocked and given a chance to acclimate to the water.
Expect BIG crowds opening weekend. There is oen lot for Belleau Lake with the entrance on Busse Hwy. While Belleau does indeed get crowded, it's usually not as bad as Axehead. When the lot fills up cars often park along the road on Busse Hwy. The legality of this is a grey area so I can't say if it's ok to do or not. In my experience however, it's not been a problem, but you've been warned.
Here's a podcast we did a few years ago with extensive information about the inland trout program.
Belleau Lake Accommodations
The restroom facilities consist of one porta-potty located near the parking lot. No sinks or running water. The nearest shops are located about 1 miles north in downtown DesPlaines or 1 mile south near Oakton and Dee Rd. Live bait is sold at the Mobile station on Touhy and River Road. They have wax worms and nightcrawlers.The next closest place to get live bait would be Fish-Tech (formally Ed Shirleys) on Dempster in Morton Grove. Dick's Sporting Goods on Touhy in Niles usually has crawlers and redworms but call ahead first for availability. There is plenty of parking available at the entrance.
Jay's Bottom Line
Belleau Lake is a medium sized forest preserve lake that is mainly considered for the trout season in spring and fall. Not really the kind of place one would plan a trip to otherwise. It offers the angler who lives or works nearby the opportunity to wet a line and perhaps catch a smaller sized largemouth bass or crappie. Carp fishing there could be fun though.
Hopefully in the next few years the smallmouth bass will grow up and provide anglers the opportunity to catch these always feisty fish.
It is a good place to bring a kid fishing as there is little to get hung up on and the bluegill and warmouth can provide much fun. There is a gravel/grass trail surrounding the lake that can be enjoyble for a stroll or jog. It is an asthetically pleaseing little forest preserve and doesn't have the goose problem that other forest preserve lakes do. There is room for picnicing and barbecuing between the parking lot and the lake, as well as smaller spots surrounding the lake. No picnic tables however.
For current Belleau Lake conditions, fishing reports and news, visit the Belleau Lake Forum of our message boards.
Map and Directions
Belleau Lake is easy to get to, but can be tricky if one doesn't know the area. This stretch of Bussy Hwy basically runs from Touhy (west of Northwest Hwy), northwest parallel to the metra tracks to Dempster. It is between Dempster and Oakton with just one entrance.