Fishing in Chicago? You Might be Suprised! Part II

By Rick Madeja - June 1, 2002
I enjoy getting E-mail about the articles I write, I read them all and I try to answer as many as I can! If you have any questions or a comment please let me know!

As I write this I am AMAZED at all of the good fishing that the CHICAGO LAND area has to offer, just drive down any of the highways that cross our area and you will see countless small lakes and borrow pits that were left when our highways were built, these lakes are loaded with fish and many of them are on public land.

The first fishing spot I will tell about in part two is the Fox-Chain of lakes, these lakes cover more than 6200 acres and are fed by the Fox river from the north and empty in to the Fox river to the south. I consider the Fox-chain my home lake because it is only a ten-minute ride from my home and because I fish tournaments on "THE CHAIN"! It has been said by some very good anglers that the Fox chain makes you a better fisherman! The heavy fishing pressure and the high pleasure boat traffic can make the fishing TUFF at times!

The fishing on the chain is as good or better than it has been in the last thirty years, the intensive stocking program by the Illinois D.N.R. in the last decade has made the musky fishing here some of the best in the state. We have not heard of a 50" musky being caught yet on the chain but we have come very close, I say we have not heard of a 50 incher because sometimes fishermen in our area can be as tight lipped as the fish! The walleye population is now in great shape. In fact I have just read E-Mail from my father who lives on the Fox River north of the chain, he told me he caught a beautiful walleye of over 5 pounds just yesterday. With the current slot limit in place at this time this fish had to be released, in the E-mail he said with fish like this right outside his back door the price of his home just went up another $10,000!

The species of fish available in the Fox-Chain are Musky, Walleye, Largemouth bass, Smallmouth bass, Northern pike, Crappie, White bass, and Yellow bass, Channel catfish, Bluegill, Yellow perch and Carp.

There is an annual user fee to use the Fox-Chain this fee is collected by the Fox waterway agency and used to improve and maintain the habitat and waterway. The fishing on The Chain is much better during the week due to the lower boat traffic!

One of the newest and best fishing spots in the Chicago area is Independence grove. This 115 acre transformed quarry is one of the best shore fishing spots in the Chicago area. This lake has a maximum depth of 49 feet and there are many sunken and exposed islands. There is boat rental available, but there is no outside watercraft allowed on Independence grove at this time due to the discovery of zebra mussels in the lake last year! The fish that are stocked at Independence grove are Largemouth Bass, Channel catfish, Northern pike, Walleye, Yellow perch, Black crappie, Bluegill and Carp. The fishing here is CATCH and RELEASE only! Ice fishing is allowed but only after the ice reaches four inches in thickness. To save a wasted trip a call to the Independence grove office at 847-968-3499 to find out the ice conditions.

For more water fun, take a family paddle in a canoe, kayak or hydro bike available for rent at the Independence Grove Marina. Or stock up on bait and cast a line from the shore, a rental rowboat or the wheelchair-accessible fishing pier. . The Marina is now open from 6:30 a.m. to 7 p.m., for weekend business, and will open seven days a week beginning Memorial Day. Boat rentals require a driver's license, $20 deposit, or credit card.

East and West Loon lakes are located 45-60 minutes north of Chicago, East Loon Lake is 164 acres with a max depth of 26 feet and West Loon Lake is 164 acres with a max depth of 37 feet. The property around these lakes are almost 100% privately owned with most of the surrounding property residential, there is a private launch on the south west end of West Loon Lake that charges a per launch fee and there is a Tavern that rents boats on the west shore of West Loon. These lakes offer some of the best weed line fishing our area has to offer! The bass fishing here is great in the early spring, and stays good all thru the summer and fall. The Musky that were stocked here over the last few years have shown great growth rates. These lakes are close to The Fox-Chain but they don't get the pounding that "The Chain" gets

The species available on East and West Lakes are Largemouth bass, Musky, Northern pike, Walleye, Channel catfish and all of the pan fish species. At this time a property owner near the channel from West Loon Lake to East Loon Lake has dumped sand into the channel making it impassable. I have made several calls to the Illinois D.N.R. in regards to this but I have not yet received a call back, I will keep every one posted!

I really could go on for days about the fishing areas, and fishing that the Chicago area has to offer but I prefer to not run on like a never-ending train, I will list some of the other quality lakes and rivers in our area and if any one has any questions about them please feel free to E-Mail me!

Some of our other fine fishing spots: Shabbona Lake, The Illinois river, The Kankakee river, The Rock river! Although they are in Wisconsin these lakes are only a 60-90 minute drive from Chicago: Silver lake, Camp Lake, Center lake, Browns lake, Eagle lake, Lake Geneva, Lake Delevan!

So remeber if someone suggests a Chicago vacation it just might not be as bad it sounds, there is some great fishing in the Chicago-Land area, there are some very qualified guides in our area, I am sure I could recommend one.

Author Rick Madeja

Rick Madeja
Rick Madeja is an advid Illinois angler, tourmament fisherman and family man (wife Rose and three children; Melissa, Amanda and Ricky). Rick is a pro staffer of G. Loomis and is a team leader for Turning Point Propellers. Rick writes independantly for Big Bucks Bass, The Pro Fish Club News and Lake-Link.com. You can also see him occasionally laboring at Ed Shirley's Sports in Morton Grove, IL.

Rick finished 2nd place in the April 28th Big Bucks Bass Buddie tournament held on the Fox-Chain.
Finished 4th in the June 9th Northland Bass Buddie tounament held on the Fox-Chain.
Fininshed 19th in the Northland Bass Northstar classic (Championship) Held June 17th-21st out of Winneconne Wisconsin.