Get hooked on fishing

Fishing Areas

Get hooked on fishing! With 11 stocked park lagoons, a number of ponds, a reviving Chicago River, 22 miles of shoreline along Lake Michigan, and access in eight harbors and along the north side of Navy Pier, Chicago offers many opportunities for year-round fishing. The types of fish to pursue are varied: Coho and Chinook salmon, Steelhead and Brown Trout, Yellow Perch, Smallmouth, Largemouth and Rock Bass, Bluegill, Crappie, Carp and Channel Catfish.

 

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Total of 14 facilites.

Auburn Fishing Area

Auburn Fishing Area

Location Notes: 406 W. Winneconna

Park: Auburn Park

Park Phone: (312) 747-6998

Calumet Fishing Area

Calumet Fishing Area

Location Notes: 9801 S. Avenue G

Park: Calumet Park

Park Phone: (312) 747-6039

Canal Origins Fishing Area

Canal Origins Fishing Area

Location Notes: 2750 S. Ashland Ave.

Park: Canal Origins

Park Phone: (312) 747-6026

Columbus Fishing Area

Columbus Fishing Area

Location Notes: 500 S. Central

Park: Columbus Park

Park Phone: (773) 287-7641

Douglas Fishing

Douglas Fishing

Location Notes: 1401 S. Sacramento Dr.

Park: Douglas Park

Park Phone: (773) 762-2842

Garfield Fishing

Garfield Fishing

Location Notes: 100 N. Central Park Ave.

Park: Garfield Park

Park Phone: (312) 746-5092

Gompers Fishing Area

Gompers Fishing Area

Location Notes: 4222 W. Foster Ave.

Park: Gompers Park

Park Phone: (773) 685-3270

Humboldt Fishing Area

Humboldt Fishing Area

Location Notes: 1400 N. Sacramento Ave.

Park: Humboldt Park

Park Phone: (312) 742-7549

Jackson Fishing Area

Jackson Fishing Area

Location Notes: 6401 S. Stony Island Ave.

Park: Jackson Park

Park Phone: (773) 256.0903

Marquette Fishing Area

Marquette Fishing Area

Location Notes: 6743 S. Kedzie Ave.

Park: Marquette Park

Park Phone: (312) 747-6469

McKinley Fishing Area

McKinley Fishing Area

Location Notes: 2210 W. Pershing Rd.

Park: McKinley Park

Park Phone: (312) 747-6527

Sherman Fishing Area

Sherman Fishing Area

Location Notes: 1301 W. 52nd St.

Park: Sherman Park

Park Phone: (312) 747-6672

Washington Fishing Area

Washington Fishing Area

Location Notes: 5531 S. King Dr.

Park: Washington Park

Park Phone: (773) 256-1248

Map

Frequently Asked Questions

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  • Montrose Harbor, 4400 N. Lake Shore Drive
  • Belmont Harbor, 3200 N. Lake Shore Drive
  • Diversey Harbor, 2800 N. Lake Shore Drive
  • Navy Pier, (north side of the building only) Grand Ave & Lake Shore Drive
  • DuSable Harbor, 400 E. Randolph St.
  • Monroe Harbor, 100 N. Lake Shore Drive (across from Buckingham Fountain)
  • Burnham Harbor, 1200 S. Lake Shore Drive (on the Museum Campus)
  • 31st Street Harbor, 3100 S. Lake Shore Drive (new for 2013)
  • 59th Street Harbor, 5900 S. Lake Shore Drive
  • Jackson Park Inner and Outer Harbors, 6400 S. Lake Shore Drive
  • 95th St. Calumet Park, 9600 S. Walton Drive

Notice Valid From: 3/31/2014 - 4/1/2024

Chicago's Fish'N Kids Events & Programs

Family Fishing Program @ Northerly Island Visitor’s Center, 1700 S. Linn White Dr.

Select Saturdays, May – June, from 9am – 12pm.  Call for dates.
These classes are for parents with children (ages 6 and up please), and small groups (up to 30) that are unable to fish with us in the Fish'N Kids summer program (see below). We supply the rods, reels, bait and fishing instructors and “Fish`N Kids How-To-Fish” Instruction Booklets. We will be both indoors and outdoors for up to 45-minutes, so dress for the weather. A short Tenkara-style fly fishing and fly tying lesson will be included as well.  Call Bob Long, Jr., “The Fishin’ Guy!” at (312) 656-3852 for more information.  Reservations are required for groups numbering eight or more. 


Summer Fishing Program

June 24 - August 16, Monday through Friday, 9am - 4pm
Over the course of eight weeks we supply the rods, reels, bait and instruction. You? Well, you supply the kids. There are daily fishing sessions conducted by the “Fishin’ Guys & Gals” for up to 30 kids per session. We can accommodate up to 300 participants per day. We are able to fish with children, age 8 – 12, teens, adults, seniors, and those with any kind of disabilities or challenges.

Fishing takes place at 11 lagoons located throughout the City, and at seven lakefront locations. Fishing sessions last an average of 35 minutes. Classes are free and open to the public, but pre-registration is REQUIRED!  For more information, call Bob Long, Jr., “The Fishin’ Guy!” at (312) 656-3852 or email him at bob.long@chicagoparkdistrict.com.

 

Monroe Harbor Fishing Festival @ Lake Shore Drive & Monroe Street

Monday's – Friday's, June 18 through August 16, 2013, 9:30 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.
Participants can enjoy free fishing (no fishing license required these days and times).  Rods, reels, bait and instructors are provided. Car and bus drop-off ares are available at Monroe and Lake Shore Drive, but free parking is not available. Sponsored by The Chicago Park District, The Illinois Conservation Foundation, The Illinois Department of Natural Resources, The City of Chicago’s Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events, and Westrec Marinas. For more information please call Bob Long, Jr., “The Fishin’ Guy!” at (312) 656-3852.

 


We hope these programs and events help make your fishing more enjoyable and rewarding.
For more information about fishing programs sponsored by Chicago’s Fish`N Kids of the Chicago Park District, call Bob Long, Jr., “The Fishin’ Guy!” at (312) 656-3852 or you can email me at bob.long@chicagoparkdistrict.com.

Notice Valid From: 4/1/2014 - 4/1/2024

General Fishing Tips

  • Jigs, plastic lures and Maggots work for just about all species all year in Lake Michigan, park lagoons and the Chicago River. They work either cast or drifted under a float/bobber.  White, chartreuse, and pink are best all around plastic lure colors for this.
  • Crappie rigs with fatheads or Baby Roaches work well for perch, winter through spring.
  • Try Soft-shell pieces under a slip-float rig, about 18 inches off the bottom, for summer perch. Or cast soft-shell pieces on a single-blade perch spinner.
  • Use Polaroid glasses to spot weed beds and rock piles in clear water. Remember where they are. Fish them periodically to note what fish uses them and when.
  • The parks close at 11:00pm, but fish bite after dark, especially if there are streetlights on. So don’t run away at dusk.
  • ¼ to ½ oz spoons are still mainstays for spring Coho (silver or gold, silver/blue, silver/green).
  •  ½ - 1 oz glow-in-the-dark spoons for fall kings. Try silver/blue, silver/green spoons during the day.
  • Also productive for autumn salmon are larger crank baits that dive 6 – 10 feet down. Colors: firetiger, silver black, shad imitations.
  • Chicago River all-around setup: ¼ - ½ ounce weight on bottom, size 6 – 8 hook placed 6” – 18” off the bottom, and worms (night crawlers, red worms) for bait.
  • For quantity of fish in general, use the smallest hook you feel comfortable with. Try sizes 8 and 10. They hook and hold well.
  • Pencil bobber with small Aberdeen hook and maggots can catch lots of fish in the lagoons. Weight the float so that only 1/3rd of the top shows above water.
  • Cat fishing techniques get specialized at almost each lagoon. Ask the local fishermen for advice and tips.
  • Please release smallmouth bass – they are a valued asset to our Lake.
  • Plastic lure colors for smallmouth: motor oil, pumpkin, green pumpkin, root beer for late spring through September (crayfish and goby imitations).
  • White, chartreuse and black are excellent early spring colors for smallmouth.
  • Fish rock piles and close to the seawalls for smallmouth.
  • If you take kids fishing; start them catching gobies, pinfish and rock bass; all are easily caught and fun for kids.
  • In general, lighter line catches more fish than heavier lines. Try going with 6-pound-test (not for salmon).
  • Improperly set drags and poor fish-fighting techniques lose more fish (fisherman’s error) than small hooks or lighter line.
  • Learn three knots: clinch, surgeon, and loop.

 

Tips for Fishing With Kids (ages 6-12)

Lessons gleaned from fishing with over 70,000 kids over twelve years

  • Patience is needed - yours, not theirs.
  • Focus on the child - the fishing outing is about them, not you.
  • Focus on helping them catch a fish, right then, right there vs. teaching them to fish.
  • This isn’t about teaching life-long lessons, but providing a magical moment.
  • Keep fishing outings short: 45 to 60 minutes. You can always come back, but you can never recover from boredom.
  • Fish for easily caught fish first - small abundant fish like bluegill, perch, gobies, rock bass, crappie. For kids it is about numbers (action) not size.
  • Encourage their sense of joy and accomplishment by showing excitement for any fish caught - no matter how small.
  • Simple 5 ½ foot, medium light spin casting equipment is simple to use, inexpensive and effective.
  • Use cigar shaped floats only. Throw out all of the round ones. Weight them so only the top third of the float shows.
  • Use Size 10, Aberdeen, snelled hooks in gold or bronze. Smaller hooks will hook more fish.
  • Use small bait – maggots, beemoth, pieces of worms, small minnows – to catch more fish, (not bigger fish, but more fish).
  • Fish are close to shore, not far out. Teach the underhand flip/pitch cast. Avoid sidearm and overhead casts and you’ll reduce hang-ups and injuries.
  • If the child wishes to touch the bait and fish, let them. If they don’t, that is OK, don’t make them or make fun of them. They’ll learn in time.
  • As soon as they show signs of boredom or being tired – stop for the day. They don’t love this yet like you do. You can always come back another time.
  • Stay positive and encourage them throughout your time spent fishing.  Tell them they did a good job and you are proud of them. The number and size of fish they catch is NOT a reflection on you. Relax. Take pictures. 

Notice Valid From: 4/1/2014 - 4/1/2024

Hours

Lakefront/Harbor Fishing

Months: Year-round
Hours:  6am – 11pm*
*April (smelt season) hours are 6am – 1am

Neighborhood/Lagoons Fishing

Months: March – October
Hours: 6am – 11pm

 

Fish Species Available in Chicago

January - February:

  • Lakefront and Harbors: Perch, Panfish and Trout

March - April:

  • Lakefront and Harbors: Coho Salmon and Smelt,
  • Lagoons: Early season Bluegill and Crappie
  • Chicago River: Largemouth Bass, Panfish and Carp

May - August:

  • Lakefront and Harbors: Perch (except for closed season July 1 – July 30), Panfish, Carp and Smallmouth Bass, Freshwater Drum (aka Sheephead, Silver bass)
  • Lagoons: Bluegill, Channel Catfish and Largemouth Bass (The Illinois Department of Natural Resources stocks the lagoons with Bluegill and Catfish in June, July and August)
  • Chicago River (55 degree water): Largemouth, Smallmouth and Rock Bass, Panfish, Crappie, Carp, Perch and Drum

September - December:

  • Lakefront and Harbors: King and Coho Salmon, Brown Trout, Steelhead and Perch, Freshwater Drum
  • Lagoons: Bluegill and Channel Catfish (mainly in September and October)
  • Chicago River: Bluegill, Rock Bass and Crappie

 

Seasons

Perch Fishing: Open all year except from July 1- 31

During July, perch fishing from shore remains open for kids only, age 15 and under.
May and June are traditional prime fishing times. The daily limit is 15. The best places to fish are found along breakwalls and piers that drop off into deep (8 -15 feet) water. Softshell crayfish, spikes, minnows, spinners and jigs are all great baits to use for perch.

Smelt Fishing: April 1 - 30

Smelt fishing is a longtime favorite family pastime that has attracted thousands to Chicago’s lakefront over the years. You can set up your equipment at any time, but your net may not enter the water before 7 p.m. and you must leave from Chicago’s harbors by 1 a.m. We suggest you wrap it up by 12:30 a.m. to be out of the harbor parking lots by 1 a.m.

Shore Fishing: Open all year

In addition to harbors and lagoons, many enjoy fishing along the Chicago River and from the many seawalls, piers and revetments along the lakefront. Perch, Rock Bass, Smallmouth & Largemouth Bass, Carp and Panfish can be caught from spring until fall, when Salmon return.

Snagging Season: October 1 - December 31

Snagging for Chinook and Coho Salmon is permitted in the Lincoln Park Lagoon (from the Fullerton Avenue Bridge to the southern end of the lagoon) and in the Jackson Park Inner and Outer Harbors. Snagging is not allowed at any time within 100 feet of a moored watercraft. Snagging for species other than Salmon is illegal. A fishing license with a Salmon stamp is required to snag.

Notice Valid From: 4/1/2014 - 4/1/2024

Fishing Licenses 2014

An Illinois fishing license is required for fishing all waters in Illinois. They are available for purchase at some local bait shops (see list below). Fishing licenses may also be purchased online at http://www.dnr.illinois.gov/LPR/Pages/default.aspx.

  • Resident sport fishing, ages 16-64:              $15.00
  • Resident sport fishing, 65 years and over:     $ 7.75
  • Resident and non-resident, under 16 years of age:   FREE
  • Resident sport fishing, disabled or blind:       FREE
    • Must show a Class 2 or 2A disability or Disabled Veterans, holding a Veteran's I.D. showing at least a 10% service related disability) or blind.
  • Salmon Stamp:      $6.50

Parking and Dock Access Passes

Fishermen’s Parking Pass Program 

Special parking is available for fishermen by purchasing a parking pass good at special parking lots at Burnham and DuSable Harbors. Each pass costs $10 and is valid for 60 days from the date of purchase. Available at www.henryssports.com, (312) 225-8538 or call Bob Long, Jr. at (312) 656-3852 for more information.

Fishermen’s Pier Pass Program

Passes are available for fishermen to access a variety of docks in Montrose, Diversey, Belmont, DuSable and Burnham Harbors when the boating season is over and the harbors are closed. The passes cost $6.50 and are good from November 15,2012 - March 31, 2013. Passes are available at Henry’s Sports and Bait Shop, 3130 S. Canal St., (312) 225-8538, www.henryssports.com.

Fishermen: Please use only the piers listed on the passes. Help protect this program.

Aquatic Invasive Species Watch!

Chicago anglers can help stop the introduction and spread of non-native aquatic invasive species.

  • Learn to identify invasive species.
  • Dispose of unwanted live bait in the trash.
  • Drain lake or river water from livewell and bilge before leaving access.
  • Inspect and remove aquatic plants and animals from boat, motor and trailer.
  • Report new sightings – note exact location; freeze specimen in a sealed plastic bag.

For more information or to report an invasive species, call the Illinois Sea-Grant Program in Zion, Illinois (847) 872-8677, the Illinois DNR in Topeka, Illinois (309) 968-7531, or the Indiana DNR, Division of Fish & Wildlife in Indianapolis, Indiana (317) 232-4093.

Chicago Area Bait & Tackle Shops

Listed below are the bait and tackle shops located in Chicago.  Most of these shops support the Chicago Park District fishing programs and carry information about the programs, events and contests. Please call first as shop hours may vary by season.

  • Dan’s Tackle Service, 2210 W. McLean (773) 276-5562, www.danstackleservice.com
  • Henry’s Sports and Bait, 3130 S. Canal St., (312) 225-8538, www.henryssports.com
  • Mac’s Bait, 2322 ½ E. 75th St., (773) 978-6596, www.macsbaitshop.com
  • Park Bait Company, 600 W. Montrose Ave., (773) 271-2838
  • Scottie’s Bait Shop, 1442 S. Pulaski Rd., (773) 277-1622
  • Vet’s Live Bait, 10150 S. Indianapolis Blvd., (773) 734-6720

Notice Valid From: 4/1/2014 - 4/30/2024