Chicago fishing: A species list

SHARE Chicago fishing: A species list

A reader asked me to post online the list of species caught from Chicago waters.

Navy Pier (above) is one of those special fishing spots in Chicago, from shore or boat.

I originally started the species list for a Sun-Times outdoors column six years ago in response to Eric Sharp of the Detroit Free Press saying Detroit “stands alone” as an urban fishery. And I came up with 50 species caught by modern fishermen.

I updated the list in Sunday’s column in response to a publicity stunt next month–the 30/30 Fish-A-Thon–by some Michigan guys.

Tony Hansen, deputy director, Michigan United Conservation Clubs, and Gabe VanWormer, video producer for MUCC, will begin a 30-hour fishing marathon in an effort to catch 30 different species of fish in Michigan.

It’s about more than Michigan fishing, as the online site makes plain: ”The 30/30 Fish-A-Thon is a fishing marathon to prove a point. Asian carp and other invasive species threaten our way of life.”

I gathered the implication that Michigan fishing was somehow more special than in Illinois or Chicago. That’s silly. Asian carp have been impacting our fishing for years. And we both fight the spread of Asian carp and have adapted.

In updating the species list for Chicago fishermen, one of the fishermen I checked with suggested posting the list online, so any updates could be made.

To count for the species caught in Chicago, the fish needed to be caught from Lake Michigan, Wolf Lake, the lagoons or the Chicago river systems.

Originally, I started by cross-checking and combining the species lists kept by Rita and Steve Somen and the one kept by Carl Vizzone. Originally, I had 33, but I made it 34 on second thought, by giving both yellow and brown bullheads.

1 alewife

2 black crappie

3 bluegill

4 brown trout

5 buffalo

6 & 7 (yellow and brown) bullhead

8 channel catfish

9 Chinook

10 common carp

11 drum

12 emerald shiner

13 gizzard shad

14 goldfish

15 golden shiner

16 green sunfish

17 largemouth bass

18 mirror carp

19 rainbow trout

20 pumpkinseed

21 rock bass

22 round gobie

23 smallmouth

24 warmouth

25 white bass

26 white crappie

27 white perch

28 yellow perch

29 yellow bass

30 sculpin

31 golden roach

32 chub

33 smelt

34 coho

Then add

35 northern pike and 36 walleye from Chicago harbors in recent years

37 sauger from the rivers

Boaters have added an interesting batch of species over the past couple decades:

38 lake trout

39 tiger trout

40 pink salmon

41 Atlantic salmon

42 brook trout

And there are more 43 pacu and 44 piranhas caught than I really like to think about.

The lagoons have given us 45 bighead carp and 46 grass carp.

Wolf Lake has added

47 tiger muskie

48 muskie

49 sturgeon

The Chicago River gives us a broad group, which could probably count as several species, 50 hybrid sunfish, dubbed ”idiot fish,” by Vizzone and Ken ”the Lakefront Lip” Schneider.

In the past few years, we have to add 51 northern snakehead caught from Burnham harbor and 52 bowfin from the Chicago River.

There’s a couple species–gar and flathead catfish–I think have been caught but I just haven’t been able to confirm them. And I think there is a rare hybrid of carp and goldfish caught too from the Chicago river systems.

If you have species to add, post below or e-mail me at

The Latest
A year after Srinivasrao Alaparthi lost his wife in a parasailing crash, he’s warning other parents on vacation to beware of companies that ignore safety rules.
Pigeon experts say it is likely a domestic bird and is in danger of being gobbled up by a predator.
Jim Thome is a busy guy these days. But he has no regrets about adding another line to his resume this spring: assistant baseball coach at Nazareth.
The Hawks have interviewed 65 to 75 prospects this week in Buffalo and have a “good sense” who they like for the 19th overall pick (with the first overall pick being an obvious choice). But general manager Kyle Davidson will also consider moving up or down if it makes sense.