Chicago lakefront: Another patch of fishing access

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A truly wild Chicago view on the path into the north side of North Slip.Credit: Dale Bowman

It took a second for it to register that the red fox and I were staring each other down. I swear he looked quizzical, as if wondering, “What the hell is he doing here?” as we met around 8300 south on the Chicago lakefront.

I was on a mission.

At the Mayor’s Fishing Advisory Committee meeting on Thursday, Bob Long Jr., “The Fishin’ Guy” for the Chicago Park District, said there was a strip of public land on the north side of the North Slip (87th Street) at Steelworkers Park. He said it could be legally accessed coming in from 79th.

The current legal fishing spot is on the south side at North Slip, about 150 yards at the mouth at Calumet Harbor. It is the top spot the last few years for winter perch fishing. Size is the problem. On a calm day, maybe 50 can fish comfortably. With wind or waves, three dozen tests human interaction.

The reality is many fishermen access via quasi-legal spots around South Side slips. What does quasi-legal mean? I finally came up with an analogy. On interstates with posted speed limits of 70 mph, the quasi-legal speed limit is 77 mph.

Regulars and locals know the quasi-legal fishing spots on the South Side. People driving from the North Side or the suburbs are not as anxious to test the quasi-legal spots.

That’s why I drove around Monday on the south end of Lake Shore Drive to help those who want legal access. I parked at the overflow lot for Rainbow Beach because I am comfortable there.

I left my car at 11:26 a.m. ($1.75 per hour from 9 am. to 9 p.m., $.75/hour other times). I should have parked on LSD and saved a quarter mile of walking and $3.50 parking. From the car, I wound along a paved path past the filtration plant to the bus turnaround. Across from the buses was a gated old road.

I walked a mile-plus down that old road, at times was only mud, through overgrown weeds. I bushwhacked the last 100 yards to the north side of North Slip, arriving at 11:58 a.m.

Across the slip, only eight fished. That meant perch were not there. That’s why I had counted three or four dozen parking along LSD and fishing quasi-legal spots.


Perch fishermen on the south side of North Slip.

Credit: Dale Bowman

I fished for an hour with one bite. In that hour, the guys on the south side (right in photo) of the slip landed only three keepers.

There is 131 yards (my strides) of legal access, 63 yards fishable, on the north side of the slip.

At 12:30 p.m., spits of graupel came and went. The sun popped in and out. At 12:50 p.m., it was time. I reached my car at 1:24 p.m. with two minutes to spare on parking.

It’s another access option for fishermen.


A lone boat floats in the mouth of North Slip (while dozens fished from shore of the slip north of 87th on Monday.

Credit: Dale Bowman

DEER: Illinois hunters harvested 57,968 deer during the first firearm deer season, Friday through Sunday. That is up significantly from the 51,830 first season last year. Click here for a more extended breakdown.

WILD THINGS: Absurd numbers of sandhill cranes have been passing through the Chicago area with the weather change.

STRAY CAST: People of Judeo-Christian tradition who fight resettlement of Syrian immigrants are the moral equivalent of fishermen who fight removal of dams.

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