Learn the Fly-Fishing Basics for Free
Fly Fishing 101 & 201
Fly Fishing 101
Fly Fishing 201
A free Trout Unlimited Membership—a $35 value—is included for all FF101 and FF201 graduates. Upon completion of the course, you will receive special in-store offers, valid for the purchase of Orvis products.
Please see store associates or call 630-932-6573 for details.
Learn the Fly-Tying Basics for Free
Upcoming Seminars & Events
Call us at 630-932-6573 for information on upcoming classes and seminars this season.
Local Fly-Fishing Information
Tourists often inquire about the pictures hanging on the wall. We’re asked, “Did you go to Patagonia to catch those Brown Trout?” We always chuckle and tell people that these trout were caught as close as four blocks away. Lake Michigan is, after all, a large body of fresh water and although Chicago is not thought of as a true fly-fishing destination the truth is that the possibilities for fishing in and around the area are quite good.
The Lake Front (Chicago)
Fishing along the lakefront is infinite but very daunting. Different species can be targeted at different times of the year; browns, salmon, and steelhead in the fall, steelhead and bass in the spring and summer. Many of these fish will attempt to spawn into the various harbors and are targeted by spin fishermen. There are places that will work for fly-casters as well. Some will ride bikes up and down the lake front trail (bikes can be rented at Millennium Park) and look for fish. Popular harbors to fish are Montrose, Belmont, and Diversey. The rip-rap wall on the south point of the old Meigs air field allows fly-casters to get closer to the waters edge. Jackson park lagoon in historic Hyde Park is good for Largemouth and Bream. The Lincoln Park nature museum has a pond with casting platforms behind it that offers good fly-casting practice and is full of bluegill and crappie. If fishing the lakefront, look for rock structure that will hold fish. Due to zebra mussels, the water is often clear enough to target cruising fish, from smallmouth to Chinook salmon.
The Chicago River (Chicago)
The Chicago River has had a long and sordid past but efforts are underway to clean up this waterway. Locals will fish the river mostly from the fishing access at Foster Avenue. A canoe can be launched and the river fished all the way into the man made canyon of Downtown. Coho have even been spotted in the river in the fall.
Fox Chain of Lakes (North Illinois)
Great warm water fishing opportunities and boat rental is available. The lakes are located about an hour north of downtown.
Kankakee River and Rock Creek (Kankakee, IL)
The “Kank” about an hour south of Chicago is considered to be one of the premier smallmouth fisheries in the Midwest. It fishes best from mid spring to late fall and often fishes very much like trout water. Top fly patterns include crayfish patterns, clousers, and hellgrammite patterns. Rock creek, which flows into the Kankakee, has an early spring planting of trout that are plucked out by early summer. If you have a canoe the nearby Braidwood lakes is a great for Largemouth.
Root and Pike Rivers, Oak Creek, Milwaukee River, and Sheboygan River (Kenosha, Racine, Milwaukee, and Sheboygan WI)
The Root, Pike, and Oak Creek are about a two-hour drive north of Chicago, the Milwaukee is about 2 and a half hours, and the Sheboygan about 3 and a half hours. Fishing can be good on these rivers for steelhead fall through spring and for big browns in the fall. Salmon run up the rivers in late summer through the fall. At peak times on these rivers it can seem as if anglers outnumber fish. Fishing for steelhead on the root in the dead of winter can be productive and a lot less crowded. In the late fall brown trout fishing on the all of these tributaries can be very good. The primary forage for anatropous species is eggs, so egg patterns will consistently produce. Streamers and nymphs are effective as well.
Little Calumet, Salt, and Trail creek (Indiana Coast)
Only an hour south of Chicago, along the Indiana coastline, lay three creeks with good summer Skamania fishing in Late July through early October. A strong rod and heavy tippet is needed to wrestle these summer run monsters away from the log jams.
St. Joseph and Dowagiac Rivers (Dowagiac, MI)
Both rivers offer good opportunities for Steelhead. The Saint Joe is best floated and Steelies and large Smallmouth can be caught. The Dowagiac has decent numbers of stocked Brown trout and Steelhead and certain times of the year.
The drift less area of South West Wisconsin, North East Iowa, and South East Minnesota is well-know for its spring creeks, good access and wary trout. Around Madison Wisconsin, Black Earth and Mount Vernon creeks are good choices. Closer to Prairie du Chien is Castle Rock creek and the Big Green River. Contact our Madison store for more info on fishing in this area.
Wisconsin’s inland trout season opens the first Saturday in March and closes the last week of September. For trout fishing in the winter months we will make the drive to Dubuque Iowa and fish Spring Branch creek or Bloody Run creek. These are about a three-hour drive from Chicago and are best done as an overnight.
The famous rivers of Michigan like the Pere Marquette and the Manistee are also a half day drive from Chicago. If you want to fish these rivers we can put you in contact with the best Orvis endorsed guides in the area.
Resources for Chicago Anglers
Contact us at 312-440-0662 for local conditions or questions.
Store Manager: Glenn Martenson
Fishing Manager: Zeph Michaels
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