Downtown Chicago Fishing

The Chicago River system is an often overlooked fishery by most. Starting all the way in the far northern suburbs, working its way to downtown and the south side, the Chicago River is within reach of most throughout the Chicago area. Pat Harrison Outdoors has been scheduling guided trips in the heart of downtown Chicago on the Chicago River and the shore of Lake Michigan for the past few years. The unforgettable scenery and being on a boat surrounded by skyscrapers is far different than most people experience while fishing.

IMG_4768The Chicago River feels as if it is a canyon between buildings over 100 stories tall. While fishing, there are tour boats floating by with guest speakers sharing tales and giving history lessons of the great city of Chicago. Water taxis float by and full of people going to work, bridges full of pedestrians, bike riders, shoppers and sightseers galore. On any given day, there are people from all over the world walking or riding around my fishing spots. People that have fished with me say catching fish on the Chicago River is unlike any previous fishing experience they’ve ever had. Instead of seeing trees and shorelines in the background, they see the Willis Tower, Trump Plaza and the historic Tribune building. Even the folks on the tour boats get a free show as we reel in a few quality smallmouth bass to their surprise.

With the Chicago River and downtown Chicago waterfront in our backyard, we prefer to offer a truly unique experience. Fishing the Chicago River and the connecting rivers offer a different type of environment for fishing. There are areas that are 100% industrial with structures including iron bridge pilings, walls, barges, and tug boats.  Then there are certain woodland areas where you feel like you are out in the country and in no hurry to ever return home.

While quality fish can be found in just about any corner of the river, the most productive locations for catching fish are the North Shore channel, the north branch from Foster to downtown, downtown itself, and portions of the south branch. While just about every species of fish that swims in Lake Michigan will make an appearance in the river system, the Chicago River is best known for its largemouth and smallmouth bass, and crappie. Additionally, other species such as yellow perch, channel catfish, northern pike, walleye, coho salmon, rainbow trout, brown trout, and king salmon are also present. I’m sure in the next few years as more people catch on, we’ll start seeing a lot more boats out fishing. But for now, this hidden gem is all ours. There’s a lot of water to catch fish on and the conditions are consistently changing but one thing is for certain, the breathtaking views alone are what truly make this a one of a kind trip that is sure to create memories for years to come.

Primary Fish Species of Interest

  • Largemouth Bass (abundant)
  • Smallmouth Bass (abundant)
  • Walleye (present)
  • Black Crappie (common)
  • Rock Bass (abundant)
  • Bluegill (common)
  • Yellow Perch (abundant)
  • Channel Catfish (common)
  • Northern Pike (common)

Fishing Downtown Chicago

Fishing pressure on the Chicago River system and Lake Michigan is surprisingly light to almost non-existent. Some of our favorite areas to fish includes the following:

  • South Branch Chicago River
  • North Branch Chicago River
  • Calumet River & Tributaries
  • Wolf Lake
  • Calumet Lake
  • Lake Michigan (Downtown region & harbors)
  • Southern Lake Michigan (Indiana side)

Downtown Chicago Fishing (For 2 anglers):

  • Full Day Fishing Trip: $375.00
  • Half Day Fishing Trip: $250.00
  • Extra Adult Angler: $75.00
  • Extra Child Angler (under 16): Contact for special rates
  • Bait, lunch and refreshments are included.



Trips also available  for Bass, Trout and Salmon in Milwaukee on the Milwaukee River and Milwaukee Harbor. I am also available for Racine, Oak Creek and Kenosha Harbors and Lake Michigan.