By Riley Wancket
The city of Chicago… The Windy City, The Second City, the City of Broad Shoulders. The 3rd most populated city in the United States has a lot of attractions, entertainment, and character that make it worth visiting. But what many people don’t talk about is the amount of access to some great urban angling. Some consider Chicago the capital of the Midwest, sitting in the center of the region. Just a short 5 hours from Lake Erie, and 6 hours from the Wisconsin northwoods, Chicagoans have quick access to some quality fishing getaways. But many don’t focus on what fishing possibilities there are within city limits.
Chicago obviously sits on Lake Michigan, which the lake itself is not the most popular for fishing (at least near the city). A deep pit of water gives less than ideal areas and structures out on the lake, unlike some of the others like Erie and Ontario. But the continual structure of the shoreline, the harbors, and the river ways create multiple areas where fish can be found.
Within the city, you can catch many different species of fish, including largemouth bass, smallmouth bass, panfish, crappie, walleye, perch, trout, king and coho salmon, smelt, carp, catfish, and more.
The shoreline and the harbors are great places to start. Look for the pockets and corners where there isn’t as much boat activity, as well as support beams and walls along the shore. I like to throw small plastics or cranks to get the bass to strike. You can also throw swim baits and deeper jigs into the more open areas off the harbors for salmon, trout and walleye. My advice is to do this early or on a bad-weather day, when there’s less boat traffic. When looking for a fishing spot, be careful as many areas and boat slips are private, but there are plenty of public areas near by.
The Chicago River has a lot of structure to play with. You can get a one of a kind fishing experience if you kayak the Chicago River, especially in the Loop, and fish around the bridges and piers while floating under all of the skyscrapers. When doing this, stick to finesse fishing with small plastics. This will give you the most accuracy while sitting on an unstable kayak and avoiding the large river cruise ships and water taxis. The kayaking along is a lot of fun, but pulling in some city bass makes it even better.
Chicago is also one of the best cities to support their parks, and the Chicago Park District has built and maintained many district ponds and creeks, where fishing can be strong. The parks are all over the city and all can provide some great fishing.
For more information on the city’s parks, hours, and regulations, visit the Chicago Park District website!
We’ll have more updates soon on the urban angling of Chicago, and other major cities across the country! Tell us about your urban fishing experiences. Until then, get out there, and happy fishing!
Riley Wancket: @rwancket
Wancket Anglers: @WancketAnglers