Where Can I Go Fly Fishing in Chicago?

Fly fishing is a great way to relax and unwind from the hustle and bustle of city life. Chicago is a great place to take your fly fishing skills for a test run. With numerous rivers, streams, and lakes, there are plenty of spots to choose from when it comes to fly fishing in the Windy City.

The Chicago River is a great place to start if you’re looking for an urban fly fishing experience. Here, you can expect to find several species of fish including channel catfish, carp, smallmouth bass, largemouth bass, walleye, and northern pike.

The river is also home to many different species of insects that serve as food for the fish that inhabit the water. The best time of year for fly fishing on the Chicago River is during the spring months when many insect species are emerging from their winter slumber.

If you’re looking for a more rural experience, then head out to one of the many nearby lakes and reservoirs in Cook County. Busse Lake is one of the more popular spots due to its variety of species available for anglers including largemouth bass, smallmouth bass, bluegill sunfish, crappie sunfish, northern pike and walleye. The lake also contains an abundant population of aquatic insects that provide food for these fish.

If you want an even more remote experience than Busse Lake can provide then head up north towards Wisconsin where you’ll find numerous rivers containing brown trout and rainbow trout that can be caught with fly fishing techniques. The Fox River near Antioch offers excellent opportunities for anglers as does Lake Geneva just upriver. Both locations offer ideal environments for fly fishing with plenty of insect hatches throughout the summer months.


Fly fishing in Chicago offers something for everyone from urban enthusiasts looking to get away from city life or rural anglers looking for some peace and quiet in the wilderness. Whether it’s on the Chicago River or one of Cook County’s many lakes or on up towards Wisconsin rivers like Fox or Lake Geneva there are plenty of great places where you can wet your line in search of a trophy catch.

Photo of author

Emma Gibson