Fishing Spots Near Chicago: Our Top Picks
Apr 22, 2021 | 5 minute read
Reading Time: 5 minutes

After a few months that seemed like an eternity, it’s finally safe to go outside again. And is there a better way to enjoy your newly-found freedom than going on a fishing road trip with your buddies? 

While it still might not be safe to travel long distances, and many of us had to cancel our dream fishing trips for this summer, you can still find amazing angling everywhere, no matter where you’re based.

For those of you based in Chicago, we’ve prepared a special list of fishing spots that are within a driving distance from the city. These hunting grounds are just an hour or two away from you, and are waiting to be explored.

Without any further ado, let’s check out the best fishing spots near Chicago.

Less Than an Hour Away

Fishing in the City

When most people think of Chicago, the first few things that come to their minds are probably jazz, deep-dish pizza, and awesome architecture. However, that neglects the incredible fishing on offer. If you’re an angler in the city, you’ll be wondering why you should go anywhere when the fishing here is so good? We hear you, and that’s why fishing in the city is number one on our list. Located on Lake Michigan, the Windy City is a fishing base every angler can dream of. 

Boat on a river in Chicago with bridge and buildings in the back of the picture

Chicago is surrounded by water. We’re not only talking about Lake Michigan, but also inland lakes, rivers, creeks, and reservoirs. These waters are filled with Salmon, Trout, Perch, Bass, Crappie, and Northern Pike.

You can explore the Chicago River, Lake Michigan, or the Harbor, and be spoiled with an abundance of fishing spots.

Waukegan

On the western shores of Lake Michigan, less than an hour away from the Windy City, lies Waukegan – another amazing fishing spot. Surrounded by natural dunes, sandy shorelines, migratory hawks, and other amazing wildlife, Waukegan is perfect for a fishing getaway! 

Every spring, the waters of Lake Michigan open their doors to Coho Salmon, which you can expect to find in Waukegan during the entire summer.

Sunrise over a lighthouse walkway on Lake Michigan in Waukegan, a fishing spot near Chicago

On the other hand, the nearshore waters are filled with Brown and Lake Trout. If you’re looking for Perch, you’ve come to the right place. Waukegan has a number of fishing charters that specialize in Perch trips. Fishing for them starts in the middle of April and lasts until October. Keep in mind that the season closes down for a month in July.

At the beginning of summer, fishing for Chinook Salmon, Steelhead, and Lake Trout is on fire, while fishing for Brown Trout gets better later in the summer months.

Less Than Two Hours Away

Lake Geneva, Wisconsin

Just across the border with Wisconsin, you’ll come across Lake Geneva – one of the most popular fishing and tourist spots in this area. The lake is well known for its Smallmouth Bass fishing action, but that’s not the only reason anglers love Lake Geneva. There’s an abundance of Largemouth Bass and Northern Pike you can target while you’re here. It’s also stocked with Brown Trout and Lake Trout, making the lake a very productive fishery.

A view of a beach on Lake Geneva in Wisconsin, one of the great fishing spots near Chicago

As we already mentioned, the lake is a popular tourist spot. In the summer months, the lake tends to get overcrowded during the weekends, and there’s heavy boat traffic that can interfere with your fishing plans. For a calm angling experience, consider timing your visit during weekdays.

South Haven, Michigan

Now, we’re moving on to the other side of Lake Michigan. Two hours away from Chicago lies the small town of South Haven. The special thing about fishing here is that you can decide between a quiet pier experience and a fishing adventure on a charter boat. The great thing is – no matter what you choose, you’ll go home with some good catch. 

An angler fishing on Lake Michigan, one of the best fishing spots near Chicago, in South Haven right next to the Lighthouse after the storm

You can choose from the amazing fishing pier over the Black River, a dozen nearby inland lakes, or deep water fishing on Lake Michigan. The only restricted area is right near the town’s power plant. 

Now, let’s talk about some popular catches. Similar to the other side of the lake, you can expect to find lots of Salmon, Trout, and Perch in South Haven’s waters. Other than that, there’s a number of Smallmouth Bass, Lake Sturgeon, Muskellunge, Walleye, and a variety of Panfish.

Milwaukee, Wisconsin

Here’s another Lake Michigan hotspot on our list. After an hour-and-a-half drive from Chicago, you’ll arrive at Milwaukee, one of Wisconsin’s prime fishing grounds. Not many places can brag about holding the majority of the state records, but Milwaukee definitely can! So, what makes fishing here so special?

A view over a river in Milwaukee with buildings and a park in the back of the picture

First of all, Milwaukee is surrounded by water. We’re talking about numerous connecting rivers, lagoons, streams, and inland lakes and waterways that make this city an amazing place to fish at any time of the year.

Starting from early April, anglers begin to target Trout, followed by Coho Salmon and Rainbow Trout later in May. During the summer months and early fall, Chinook Salmon is the name of the game. However, if you’d like to target all of these species, then time your visit in September when all of them gather in the waters around Milwaukee before heading on their journey up the rivers.

Less Than Four Hours Away

Lake Springfield

If you’re looking for a spot that is a perfect weekend fishing getaway, Lake Springfield is the place for you. It’s a bit further away from Chicago, and you’ll need somewhere between 3–4 hours to get there by car. The lake spans over 3,866 acres, meaning you’ll have lots of fishing grounds to cover while you’re here. The lake has a specific rule that requires visitors to stay 100 feet away from all private property.

angler holding a largemouth bass in water

There are several species you can target here. But, thanks to different species that thrive at different temperatures and times of the year, you’ll always have something to catch on Lake Springfield. The most popular catch on the lake is Largemouth Bass. Besides that, you can expect to come across Blue, Channel, and Flathead Catfish, several types of Crappie, Sheepshead, Walleye, and more.

Fishing Spots Near Chicago: There Are Many More!

There are many more awesome fishing spots near Chicago, and we’re sure you have your favorites. With so many opportunities around you, anglers from this area are spoiled for choice. We hope that this list helped you find at least one fishing spot to put on your list for this summer’s adventures!

Enjoy Responsibly

There are some seriously good fishing spots near Chicago. Whether you’re after world-class sportfishing or family fun, there’s something for everyone within easy reach. Just grab your rod or find a charter near you and get ready for an awesome day on the water!

Now back to you! Have you visited any of the places we mentioned above? What are your favorite fishing spots near Chicago? Let us know in the comments below!

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