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Chicago has been home to some legendary fishermen: Ernest Hemingway. Norman Maclean. Richard J. Daley. Now it's your turn. Remember, the important thing isn't the fish you catch, but the story you tell afterward.


Come late summer, as things cool off and fish move inland, seasoned fishermen looking for a challenge fly-fish the shallow waters near the city and suburban harbors. Chicago Fly Fishing Outfitters provides tackle and other gear, as well as various classes and clinics for beginners and experienced anglers; sign up now for Introduction to Fly Fishing, an all-day session on June 7th (1279 N. Clybourn Ave.; 312-944-3474 or chicagoflyfishingoutfitters.com).


These outfits supply all the gear and the exper-tise. (For more options, go to chicagofishinglinks.com/illinoischarters.htm.)

Burnham Harbor: Captain Al Skalecke's Charter Boat Fleet; 312-565- 0104 or captainalscharters.com

Montrose Harbor/Winthrop Harbor: Confusion Charters; 888-929-3474 or confusioncharters.com  

Waukegan Harbor: Challenger Fishing Charters; 888-427-8262 or challengerfishingcharters.com


A valuable but vanishing resource, Chicago-area bait shops can tell you where and how to land the big ones.

Henry's Sports, Bait & Marine: 3130 South Canal Street; 312-225-8538 or henrysports.com 

Lakefront Bait: 29 East Madison Street, Waukegan; 847-244-4360

Park Bait Shop: in Montrose Harbor (at 600 West Montrose Avenue); 773-271-2838

Vet's Live Bait: 10150 South Indianapolis Avenue; 773-734-6720


To learn more about licenses and other angling information for Lake Michigan (as well as elsewhere in the state), download a copy of the fishing guide prepared by the Illinois
Department of Natural Resources at http://dnr.state.il.us/fish/digest.

Get fishing reports, tips and techniques, weather reports, marine forecasts—even recipes—at lakemichiganangler.com.

For information about the Chicago Park District's fishing festivals, contests, and kids' programs, call 312-742-4969.

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The Fish of Lake Michigan

More than 90 different kinds of fish inhabit Lake Michigan. Here is a guide to some of the more common species found in and around Chicago.

YELLOW PERCH (Perca flavescens)
Where: many Chicago harbors and the waters off Waukegan. Perch fishing is prohibited in July for anglers 16 and older. Bait: minnows, red worms, soft-shell crabs; spinners and jigs. Lake Michigan record (for Illinois): 2 pounds 2 ounces

SMALLMOUTH BASS (Micropterus dolomieu)
Where: the shallow, rocky Indiana shoreline near the Hammond Marina and the Inland Steel breakwater in East Chicago. Bait: a brown or gray plastic tube jig that resembles a crayfish. Record: 6 pounds 4 ounces

COHO SALMON (Oncorhynchus kisutch)
Where: Coho and Chinook (or king) salmon are best fished in the spring and fall; deep-water trolling is usually most effective. Bait: night crawlers, small alewives, spawn bags; metal spoons (color and size change seasonally). Record: Chinook—37 pounds; coho—20 pounds 9 ounces

STEELHEAD TROUT (Oncorhynchus mykiss)
Where: Steelhead (as well as lake and brown trout) tend to seek out deeper water as the weather warms up. Bait: varying sizes of shiny metal spoons. Record (steelhead): 31 pounds 6.72 ounces

BLUEGILL (Lepomis macrochirus)
Where: the city's lagoons (on the lakefront and elsewhere), which each summer the Illinois Department of Natural Resources stocks with thousands of bluegill, catfish, largemouth bass, and other fish.

The Changing Shoreline

Click here to learn more about the changing shoreline of Lake Michigan.

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