Chicago Park District

Fishing Hours and Seasons



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



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.