Richie Garcia with the American eel he caught in October 2017 from the Chicago River.

Richie Garcia’s American eel: One-of-a-kind Fish of the Week

SHARE Richie Garcia’s American eel: One-of-a-kind Fish of the Week
SHARE Richie Garcia’s American eel: One-of-a-kind Fish of the Week

Richie Garcia of Brighton Park stole the show Friday afternoon at the #ChicagoFishes event. He caught an American eel from the main stem of the Chicago River off the Chicago Riverwalk.

“What I felt was overwhelming joy and excitement [for] my 5-year-old son Richie who has been my fishing only forthe past two years,’’ he dad Ruben Garcia Jr. texted. “I immediately hugged him and told him what a wonderful job he did and that his patience and dedication paid off.’’

American eels (Anguilla rostrata) are one of the most curious of fishes, born in the Sargasso Sea, but spending the majority of their lives in freshwater. They can live for decades.

Listed as threatened in Illinois, American eels are rarities in the state. In recent years, American eels have been surveyed multiple times on the Kankakee River, primarily downstream of the Kankakee dam.

“Catching an American eel is particularly encouraging for the health of the Chicago River because it adds to the river’s biodiversity,” Phil Willink, senior research biologist at Shedd Aquarium, said in a release.

“Indicator that water quality is getting better,’’ Illinois fisheries chief Dan Stephenson emailed.

FOTW, the celebration of big fish and good stories around Chicago fishing, runs Wednesdays on the Sun-Times’ outdoors page. Send nominations by Facebook (Dale Bowman), Twitter (@BowmanOutside) or email (

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