Chicago Sportfishing Association

Frequently Asked Questions

When is the best time to go?

Our standard answer to that is "whenever and as often as you can!" Fishing off Chicago starts in early to mid April and runs through mid to late October. The Coho start out in the 1 - 3 pound class in early spring and grow to 8 - 12 pounds by late Summer. Chinook, Steelhead, and Brown trout range from 5 - 15 pounds in the spring and grow to over 30 pounds by the Fall. The Illinois Brown Trout record was broken twice last year off Chicago last Spring and now stands at over 34 pounds! Fishing is generally better in Spring to early Summer, but we catch them all season long.

What should I bring?

All fishing equipment is supplied by the Captain, so all you need is what you want to eat or drink while on board. All fishermen 16 years and older require a fishing license. These are available at the dock. Temperatures can be cooler on the lake, so bring some extra clothes. Cameras for those fish pictures are always a good idea!

What time of day is better - morning or afternoon?

During the Spring and Fall, both are about equal. During the Summer, we recommend an all day trip or at least a 6 hour trip in order to improve your odds.

How do you fish for Salmon and Trout?

Fishing for Lake Michigan Salmon and Trout is done by trolling. The object is to get the lures to the depth that the fish are at. During the Spring, fish are near the surface, and many are taken with flat lines or from planer boards. As the year progresses, the fish go deeper in the lake and most are taken from downriggers, dipsy divers, or lead core line.

What are planer boards?

Planer boards are wooden skis designed to go out to the side of the boat. Fishing lines are held onto the line between the boat and the planer board by special clips called releases. When the fish hits the lure, the release allows the fishing line to pull off the planer board line and you fight the fish.

What are downriggers?

Downriggers are used to get the lure down to the depth that the fish are at. They consist of a 2 - 4 foot arm with a reel of stainless steel cable, an eight pound weight, and a release to hold the fishing line. The fishing line is hooked into the release and the weight is lowered to the fishing depth. The rod is placed into a rod holder and there is tension between the tip of the rod and the release causing a bend in the rod. When the fish hits the lure, it pulls the line from the release and the tension is removed causing the rod to snap up. This "tip up" signals a fish has hit the lure. Downriggers allow you to catch fish that are in deep water without having to use heavy weights on the fishing line to get your lures down deep. 

What are dipsy divers?

Dipsy divers are specially designed disks that are attached to your fishing line. These disks are set to take your lure deep into the water and out from the boat based on the amount of line you let out on your rod. When a fish hits the lure, the disk "trips" allowing you to fight the fish. They are used to allow more lines to be run from the boat and catch more fish.

What is lead core line?

This is special fishing line that has lead on the inside to cause the line to sink. Many fish can be taken on this during the late Spring and Summer.



About CSA

Charter Captains



Photo Gallery