Fishing skills

Show off your fishing skills this summer with the Big Fish Contest at Monee Reservoir

Rick Dahlman shows off his 21.5-inch bass, which was the biggest bass caught in the 2021 contest.

Most anglers like to rejoice in their angling successes.

But rather than just tell big fish tales, Monee Reservoir anglers are encouraged to prove their angling prowess by entering Forest Preserve’s 2022 Big Fish Contest.

The contest will start on July 1 and run until August 31.

“It’s a great contest because anglers like to show off their fish,” said Jason Stevenson, concessions manager for Forest Preserve. “It promotes friendly competition between our anglers and gives them a chance to show off.”

To enter, bring your catch to the Monee Reservoir Visitor Center to be measured, photographed and recorded, which will serve as your entry into the competition. Photos will be included in the Monee Reservoir Big Fish Display at the Visitor Center. Entries can only be checked in when the Visitor Center is open 6:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday.

At the end of the competition, prizes will be awarded for the longest seabass, catfish and panfish. The battered fish category includes crappie, bluegill, red bass, warmouth bass, sunfish and perch. If there is a tie in any of the three categories of fish, the fish that was caught first will win. In addition, a random draw will take place to designate a winner among all other entries.

Each winner will receive a $100 Forest Preserve gift card that can be used for food, bait, programs and rentals. Winners will be notified on September 1.

Stevenson urged everyone to come in.

“It doesn’t have to be a giant fish,” he said. “Even a 2-inch bluegill could win the toss.”


The District encourages all competitors to use a catch and release strategy. But if anglers want to keep their catch, they can do so if they stick to the daily limits.

The free contest is restricted to ages 16 and up. Registration is not compulsory. All statewide fishing regulations apply. Illinois fishing licenses are required for anyone 16 or older and can be purchased at the Monee Reservoir Visitor Center.

Personal fishing boats cannot be launched at Monee Reservoir, but rowboats are available for hire. Fishing rods, trolling motors, trolling motor batteries and anchors are also available for hire. Bait and snacks are sold at the visitor center.

The Forest Reserve will be posting a list of fish entries throughout the summer at the Monee Reservoir Visitor Center, so participants can see where they are at and what they need to try and beat to be ahead.

Last year’s winners ranged from a 29-inch catfish to a 10.75-inch perch, which was the random winner among all entries.