59.9 F
Thursday, May 23, 2024

Tackle joys of fishing at Naperville ponds and then some


Above / Local fishing opportunities abound all around Lake Osborne, located just west of  the Naperville Public Safety Center along Aurora Avenue and from the north along Oswego Road. Ponds at May Watts Park and Commissioners Park as well as fishing piers along the Riverwalk and the DuPage River also provide shorelines and opportunities to drop a line. Whalon Lake in the Will County Forest Preserve is another good place to fish.

Young anglers find joys in catching small fish! (Summer 2023)

With a sunfish on the line at May Watts Park, anglers have been known to ask, “Are there any big fish in this pond?”

Over the past 25 years, PN has observed largemouth bass, catfish, koi and carp in the pond at May Watts, many of those big fish are pictured in this post.

During spawning season, mid-April through June, the big fish are often carp. They swim close to the shoreline where they appear to have their eyes out for cameras. It’s always fascinating to watch the large fish splash, flip, flop and jump as they release eggs and sperm into the warm shallow water. May 13, 2024, at noon was one of those times.

Large females will lay their eggs in vegetation with water depths between one and four feet. Splashing carp, with their backs out of the water, were observed in pairs by the dozen. (PN Photo, May 13, 2024)

Unlike other spawning seasons in the past when spawning seemed to be along the west end of the footbridge, all along the shoreline fish were getting together, creating quite a bunch of noisy splashing throughout May Watts Park.

The Naperville Park District program “Fishin’ Kids” was held at May Watts Park on May 5, 2024. According to the instructor, this young angler caught a cross between a bluegill and a sunfish. (PN Photo)

When young anglers received a fishing lesson at May Watts Pond on May 5, we couldn’t help but think of the Chinese proverb…

“Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.”

Go fish!

Often when folks are fishing, they say they enjoy spending time in the great outdoors to experience freedom while observing nature. Whether spending time along the shoreline casting for a big one or watching a bobber signal a bluegill is on the line, fishing frees anglers of all ages from stresses in everyday environment. And that’s a good thing.

Longtime readers of PN know that nothing brings on the sense of being alive more than unplugging from electronic devices and rebuilding personal reserves during time spent with nature. And one way to experience that feeling is with a fishing pole in hand, waiting for a tug on the line and reeling in the catch of the day.

When our two sons were in middle school, they’d often cure their spring fever by grabbing their fishing poles, tackle box and a container of frozen corn for bait, then head to May Watts Pond. They claimed they were “resting and relaxing” after school before starting on homework. Those good times will long be remembered.

During treks to local parks, we just happened upon all ages experiencing the joys of fishing practically in our own backyard. Be safe and healthy while enjoying the great outdoors.   


“Be patient and calm – for no one can catch fish in anger.”
—Herbert Hoover (1874-1964) 31st U.S. President 

No matter what size fish, the thrill of a catch sets every angler free with thoughts of a bigger one next time.

When budgets permit or when donors are benevolent, the Naperville Park District stocks a few local fishing ponds on a rotating schedule. Several years ago, the pond at Springbrook Crossings (1211 Leverenz Road) as well as the pond at Ashbury Park (1740 Conan Doyle Road) were stocked.

May Watts Park / 804 S. Whispering Hills Drive

On a warm April day in 2020, this young angler had big success at May Watts Pond.

PN cameras often catch anglers of all ages displaying their patience and relaxation with a fishing pole and a little bait at May Watts Park. Named for naturalist May Theilgaard Watts (1893-1975) who is recognized for her dedication to the Illinois Prairie Path and honored with her name on May Watts Elementary School in District 204, the pond in May Watts Park also provides shoreline fishing opportunities to catch and release bluegills, catfish, largemouth bass and carp that likely would give the May Watts plenty of pleasure.

As he waits for his fishing buddy at 7:30AM on a weekday, this angler is mindful that sharing an early morning fishing experience is a joyful way to strengthen relationships. (PN photo 2020)

In early July, the lily pads and many varieties of colorful wildflowers again will bloom. May Watts Park is accessible from paths that begin on Whispering Hills and Oakton roads in the West Wind subdivision and Sequoia Road in Countryside.

It’s not catching a big fish that’s important, but the immeasurable life lessons and peacefulness that are experienced along the way. (PN Photo, June 2020)

The pond at May Watts Park offers opportunities all along the shoreline to while away time, watching wildlife and waterfowl, and listening to birds and bullfrogs.

Catch young anglers fishing from the footbridge at May Watts Park.
This angler hooked two bluegills at one time.


Fishing with worms for bait, PN caught this youngster adding bluegill number 10 to his bucket. He’d already released a big catfish. Kids also use frozen and canned corn as well as sliced hot dogs for bait. (PN File Photo 2017)

Also note fish that live in local retention ponds are never, ever suitable for eating. Enjoy catching, taking photos of success and releasing.

Big catch at May Watts Pond in 2016.

Many men go fishing all of their lives without knowing that it is not fish they are after. —Henry David Thoreau 

RELATED PN POSTS / May Watts Fishing

Lake Osborne / 1320 Aurora Avenue

With accessibility from Oswego Road, anglers are known to gather along the banks of Lake Osborne, aiming to catch their daily limit of six bass. ‘Tis the season to try your luck at one of Naperville’s many fishing ponds. (PN File Photo)

Lake Osborne, a reservoir near the Naperville Public Safety Center, offers a shoreline for fishing, too, where anglers seek their catch by day and just before dusk.

Parking is available in a lot along Aurora Avenue. Anglers who choose the south side of Lake Osborne oftentimes park along Oswego Road.

Posted signs say the limit is six bass. Other fish reports include catches of catfish, largemouth bass, panfish, bream/bluegill, sunfish, rock bass, bullhead and carp here. 

Named in 1994 in memory of Marjorie Osborne, a civic leader and water resource management advocate, attractive Lake Osborne is located along Aurora Avenue, next to the Naperville Public Safety Campus. (PN File Photo 2018)

Naperville Riverwalk / Eagle Street Entry

Ready for anglers of all ages to buddy up for the pleasures of fishing, the Naperville Riverwalk Fishing Pier at Eagle Street overlooks the old quarry and the Jaycees Marina. The paddleboats, paddleboards and kayaks are available for rental on weekends beginning May 11 through Memorial Day weekend. Afterward, summertime rentals will begin daily.

The Riverwalk Fishing Pier is just down the steps from the Cliff Preston Tribute at the Farmers Plaza, located at the entrance to the Riverwalk near the Eagle Street Bridge over the DuPage River in downtown Naperville.  If pictured in this photo, the fishing pier would be in the lower right corner where the dock fence protects anglers from falling in the quarry. (PN Photo, May 2024)

Whalon Lake / 1480 Royce Road, east of S. Washington Street

Whalon Lake offers access to shoreline fishing. According to the Will County Forest Preserve website, the 80-acre lake is stocked with bluegill, black crappie, largemouth bass, channel catfish and walleye.

Fishing is permitted throughout the Naperville Park District

Naperville residents who enjoy recreational fishing (catch and release) can find a spot right here in Naperville with 19 parks that offer fishing in ponds, streams or rivers.

When budgets permit, Naperville Park District staff stocks ponds to create opportunities to learn fishing. Sometimes the pond at May Watts Park has benefited from programs through the Illinois Department of Natural Resources.

Fishing teaches calm and patience as well as learning the difference between hooking a fish and wet trash.
  • Knoch Knolls Park
  • Sportsman’s Park
  • Hobson West Ponds
  • May Watts Park***
  • Commissioners Park
  • Lincoln Greenway
  • Riverwalk Park***
  • Pioneer Park
  • Weigand Park
  • Rock Ridge Park
  • Brighton Ridge Park
  • Westglen Commons
  • Winding Creek Park
  • Baileywood Park
  • Springbrook Crossings
  • Summerfield Lake Park
  • Ashbury Park
  • Brook Prairie
  • Tall Grass Lakes

***Pictured above

Fishing Licenses & Regulations at Naperville Parks

As a reminder, all state fishing regulations apply to fishing at Naperville Park District locations.  Anyone between the ages of 16 and 65 needs a fishing license to fish in Illinois waters. Fishing licenses may be purchased through the Illinois Department of Natural Resources online or at local retail outlets.

Naperville Park District’s rules for fishing can be found in Section 2.19 of Ordinance 641.

Remember to follow Phase 4 Protocols that apply to parks and recreation.

Listing includes fishing ponds throughout Naperville parks. (PN File Photos)

Stay Connected!

Get the latest local headlines delivered to your inbox each morning.
- Advertisement -
PN Editor
PN Editor
An editor is someone who prepares content for publishing. It entered English, the American Language, via French. Its modern sense for newspapers has been around since about 1800.


The latest local headlines delivered
to your inbox each morning.
Give it a try, you can unsubscribe anytime.

Stay Connected!

Get the latest local headlines delivered to your inbox each morning.