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Pecatonica River

Description: The Pecatonica River is approximately 92 miles long in Illinois and drains 805 square miles. The total drainage area of the basin, including the Wisconsin portion of the stream, is 2,641 square miles.

Location: The Pecatonica River originates in Wisconsin and enters Illinois in Stephenson County just north of Winslow. It flows in a southeasterly direction through eastern Stephenson County and western Winnebago County and enters the Rock River near Rockton.

History and Status of the Sport Fishery: There are more than 70 species of fish in the Pecatonica River Basin, including several species of sport fish. The most sought after of the sport fish are the walleye and channel catfish, with channel catfish being the most abundant. Largemouth and smallmouth bass fishing are also popular. The Upper Rock River and Lower Pecatonica River are stocked each year with close to 70,000 walleye to support an excellent trophy fishery for this species. Panfish such as bluegill and crappie can be found in some areas, along with the occasional northern pike.

Note: 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.


River Status Summary  ( Full PDF Report )

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Species

Rank

Avg Wt.
(pounds)

Avg.
Length
(inches)

Fishing Tips

CHANNEL CATFISH

Very Good

N/A

N/A

Channel catfish are abundant throughout the Pecatonica River and in the Sugar River, a tributary of the Pecatonica River near the Wisconsin border. A study done in 2012 found the average weight of collected fish was approximately 1.1 pounds, with the largest fish (3 and 4 pounds) collected near the town of Pecatonica and upstream near Winslow. The Sugar River also yielded several fish in the 4 pound range. The average size of the adult fish was 14" with 80% over 12" in length, and 29% of these were over 16", which bodes well for anglers looking for quality fish.

SMALLMOUTH BASS

Good

N/A

N/A

Smallmouth bass are most common in the lower Pecatonica River near the confluence with the Rock River, around rip rapped areas further upstream, and in a few of the larger tributaries. A survey conducted in the summer of 2012 found good numbers of adult fish below the Krape Park dam in Yellow Creek, and in Rock Run Creek near Davis. The overall catch rate for the main stem of the Pecatonica River was low except for areas near rip rap. Best fishing areas for smallmouth are near the mouth of the river north of Rockford, or in the lower end of Yellow Creek near the dam. Note: 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.

WALLEYE

Very Good

N/A

N/A

Walleye are stocked each year into the lower Pecatonica River and the upper Rock River to provide a quality sport fishery for this species. Fishing is generally good near the mouth of the Pecatonica River north of Rockford and occasionally at the mouths of the tributaries, especially Yellow Creek. Walleye ranging in size up to and over the state record weight have been caught in recent years, and anglers regularly report catching memorable size walleye from the lower Pecatonica River.