Chicago River Fishing Festival

Sponsored by Fish`N Kids Program, South Bend Tackle Company, Basa’s Marine of Bolingbrook, and Fishing Advisory Committee.

Rods, reels, bait, and instructors will be provided. No fishing license is required at this location on these days and times. Children, aged 12 and under, have an opportunity to win a new rod and reel combo via the South Bend Tackle Company contest. Participants must be at least 44″ tall.

Boat rides on the Chicago River, courtesy of Basa’s Marine, will also be available Monday through Friday.

On the northeast corner, there is a big opening in the fence. You will also see cars packed on the north side of the street with orange cones set up in the street. That is our location.

Please go to  or, and type in N. Columbus Drive and E. Wacker Drive, Chicago, Illinois. Free parking at the site will be provided for participants only.

Fishermen’s Pier Pass Program

Passes are available for fishermen to access a variety of docks in Montrose, Diversey, Belmont, DuSable, and Burnham Harbors when the boating season is over and the Harbors are closed.

Further information about this program to come as November approaches.

Fishermen’s Parking Pass Program

Special parking is available for fishermen at Burnham Harbor and DuSable harbors with the purchase of a Fishermen’s Parking Pass.

The Parking Pass is valid for 60 days from the date of purchase. There are only 12 slots at each location and parking is on a first come, first served basis. 

You must have a valid State of Illinois Yearly fishing License to purchase the pass.

You may not use the pass to park at these locations under any other circumstances. Both lots are patrolled by Park District Security, Westrec Marinas, IDNR Conservation Police, and the Chicago Police Dept., and violators will be ticketed and may be towed.

The Fisherman’s Parking Pass is not valid on special event days at Northerly Island/Burnham Harbor (such as for events at Solider Field, the Charter One Music Pavilion, etc.).

Other rules and restrictions may apply. The Pass is valid between the hours of 6:00 am and 11:00 pm only.

Urban Fishing Program

The Illinois Department of Natural Resources Urban Fishing Program offers free, instructed fishing at Chicago Park lagoons.

In addition, they offer no-cost informative and fun fishing lessons and environmental and fishing conservation seminars for youth that can be conducted at any fishing site in Chicago, including at your local park, or school.

The Illinois Department of Natural Resources also loans fishing rods with a small tackle packet to the public at no charge through select Chicago Public Library branches. All you need is a library card.

You can also visit the IDNR website for more information.

Tagged Catfish Program

Unfortunately, the Tagged Catfish Program fell victim to a (let us hope) temporary budget cut. So, although we will still stock channel catfish in all of our lagoons in June, July, and August, none will be tagged.

However, I still hope to honor tags that have been caught in the past. In addition, there are still tagged fish left in the lagoons. If you catch one, hang onto the tag. Please refer to this page after September.

If I have any money left in the budget, I will try to honor past tags. So please, hang onto those tags and check back here. The Tagged Catfish Program was an important community program that served so many – we are really fighting for it.