Hot Chicago River Fishing places to go

By Tom Keer

Sep 21, 2017

Fishing season in Chicago is about to kick up a notch, so grab your gear and hit these four spots.


A lot of the 2.7 million people who live in Chicago enjoy freshwater fishing.  They never need to ask where to fish as there are over a dozen great spots clustered around the southwestern corner of Lake Michigan.  These hardcore anglers catch a lot of different species, and you can, too.  Here are 4 spots that offer great Chicago, Illinois fishing opportunities. 

The Chicago River

The Chicago River is interesting, and as far as Illinois river fishing spots go there are 156 miles to fish.  While the average depth is 10 feet, parts of the river are twice as deep.  Anglers mostly catch largemouth, calico and rock bass, bluegill and carp.  River fishing tips include the bridges along North Shore Channel especially around drainage areas which makes fish congregate.  A lot of anglers favor the spillway dam near River Park, so it can be crowded.  No matter, Chicago River fishing includes a variety of tributaries.  An important river fishing tip; with fish moving around on a seasonal basis you'll need to move, too.

Montrose Harbor

Spring time Coho salmon and smelt are around until the water warms, and then they'll be replaced by panfish, smallmouth bass, and carp.  King and Coho salmon return in the fall along with big brown trout and steelhead.

Diversey Harbor

If the water is open in the winter you'll find perch, panfish and trout around the edges.  Freshwater drum known as Sheephead and panfish are common during the spring and summer.  Salmon, steelhead and brown trout return from September through December.

Wolf Lake

The lake is a great warmwater fishery, with large and smallmouth bass, bluegill, redear sunfish and crappie as the primary targets.  Walleye, hybrid muskie and northern pike are routinely caught as are bullhead, carp and northern pike.

Buy an Illinois fishing license and hit the water. Fall fishing represents some of Chicago's best freshwater fishing of the year.

Tom Keer
Tom Keer
Tom Keer is an award-winning writer who lives on Cape Cod, Massachusetts.  He is a columnist for the Upland Almanac, a Contributing Writer for Covey Rise magazine, a Contributing Editor for both Fly Rod and Reel and Fly Fish America, and a blogger for the Recreational Boating and Fishing Foundation’s Take Me Fishing program.  Keer writes regularly for over a dozen outdoor magazines on topics related to fishing, hunting, boating, and other outdoor pursuits.  When they are not fishing, Keer and his family hunt upland birds over their three English setters.  His first book, a Fly Fishers Guide to the New England Coast was released in January 2011.  Visit him at or at