Forest Preserve’s Tackle Box bait shop up and running at Hidden Lakes Trout Farm

After a year hiatus, the Tackle Box bait shop is up and running at Hidden Lakes Trout Farm in Bolingbrook.

When the Forest Preserve District of Will County acquired Hidden Oaks Preserve from the Bolingbrook Park District in February 2022, the old bait shop was torn down and a new one was constructed in its place. The new bait shop had a soft opening in May for a fishing derby and has been adding items ever since, said Angie Trobaugh, the Forest Preserve’s facility supervisor for Hidden Lakes and the adjacent Hidden Oaks Nature Center. Now that the credit card machine is working, the bait shop is fully functional.

“People enjoy the convenience of obtaining their fishing licenses at the bait shop as well as information on the Forest Preserve District,” she added. “And many just come up to the window to ask questions or shoot the breeze.”

Forest Preserve District of Will County employee David
Piotrowski sells a carton of water to Naperville resident Angela Karellas at the new Tackle Box bait shop at Hidden Lakes Trout Farm in Bolingbrook.
(Photos by Forest Preserve staff | Cindy Cain)

Tackle Box bait shop hours are 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesday through Friday and 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday and Sunday through August. In September and October, bait shop hours are 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday. The bait shop has running water and a bathroom with a flush toilet that is open during bait shop hours.

Bait for sale includes large minnows, medium shiner minnows, a variety of worms, catfish magic bait, trout paste and catfish stink bait. Fishing tackle also is for sale ranging from fishing baskets and buckets to nets and bobbers. Fishing poles with closed face, spincast reels are available for use for the day for free, thanks to an Illinois Department of Natural Resources program.

Food items for sale are hot dogs, cheeseburgers, deli sandwiches, soda, water, chips, candy, crackers, Gatorade, hot chocolate, coffee, tea and ice cream. Ice cream and Gatorade are the most popular items so far, said bait shop clerk David Piotrowski, who worked for the bait shop when it was owned by the park district, too. And the number one question, as always, is, “What’s biting?” he said.

Piotrowski, who started fishing when he was 8, usually knows. “Sometimes I’ll suggest certain spots and if they catch one, they come back and almost want to kiss me,” he joked.

On a recent sunny July day, Tackle Box customers had only positive reviews. Christy Rustemeyer and Angela Karellas of Naperville stopped by for water on their walk from Whalon Lake to Hidden Lakes Trout Farm. “I love that it’s environmentally friendly,” Karellas said of the water, which is sold in recyclable paper cartons.

Kimberly Hamblet of Bolingbrook visited the shop to get a fishing license. “It’s beautiful,” she said of the new bait shop. “I love the way it looks. It’s really nice, and I like the bathroom. It’s a major improvement and it’s more inviting.”

Trobaugh said the Tackle Box is a “bustling convergence” for all kinds of activities since it is near Whalon Lake preserve, the DuPage River Trail and the DuPage River.

“We get bikers, hikers, runners, anglers, paddlers, families out to picnic, and more,” she said. “The Tackle Box is a one-stop shop for all of them. Whether you need an ice cream treat, general information, a map, minnows or a sandwich, our dedicated staff will take care of you. People are happy to see David staffing and running the bait shop again. The seasonals we hired are dedicated and passionate. And we really have a great team out there, and I only expect greater things.”

Hidden Lakes Trout Farm is part of Hidden Oaks Preserve, which is located at 419 Trout Farm Road, north of Boughton Road. For more information on the Forest Preserve District of Will County, visit