Chicago should let visitors know it’s a great place to fish

I recently received a press release from a company called FishingBooker. It was titled, “Chicago Among the 9 Best Spring Fishing Destinations for 2024.” Wow!

Following the link to FishingBooker’s website, I learned what they were all about. It said: “With an offer of more than 42,000 fishing trips spanning over 2,000 cities across 110 countries, FishingBooker has gained the trust of countless fishing enthusiasts. Our platform has enabled hundreds of thousands of anglers to embark on fishing trips and create long-lasting memories with friends and family across the United States — and beyond. By connecting anglers with skilled captains and the best fishing locations, we are committed to making fishing accessible and enjoyable for everyone.”

Further investigation showed that the site’s purpose is to have resorts, guides and charter captains sign up to be on the site and allow anglers to book trips directly through the site. It’s a good idea. I am not endorsing it in any way or fashion, but it looks like a site that would be worth spending a little time on.

The thing I found most fascinating about FishBooker was why they ranked Chicago so highly.

“Nestled on the southern shores of Lake Michigan, Chicago offers a unique blend of urban excitement and exceptional angling opportunities,” they wrote.

“Springtime in Chicago heralds the arrival of coho salmon making their early run, providing anglers with thrilling opportunities to reel in these prized catches. Additionally, abundant yellow perch, as well as lake and brown trout, await eager anglers in the cold spring waters of Lake Michigan. Beyond fishing, Chicago boasts a vibrant cultural scene, with iconic landmarks such as Millennium Park and world-class museums like the Field Museum and the Art Institute of Chicago beckoning visitors to explore.”

Yes! Spring fishing in Chicago is tremendous. Chicago is a phenomenal tourist destination with so much to offer. Put the fishing and the tourism together and you have an entertainment combination that is hard to compete with.

I have been beating the drum about this for decades. I used to regularly attend the monthly meetings for Mayor Daley’s Lakefront Fishing Committee. Most of the discussion revolved around fishing regulations and access to the water for fishermen. I regularly brought up the fact that I believed that Chicago should be promoting fishing more strongly. Heck, the city never mentions the fishery at all. I see people who are astounded to learn that there is high-quality fishing available in the Chicago area.

Tourism in Chicago is down. Stores are closing at a rapid rate. Something needs to be done to bring more visitors into the city to enjoy the city’s recreation opportunities and to spend some of their hard-earned money in a place they’ve not spent it before. Chicago ought to be the place.

Can you imagine how great it would be for a family to come downtown and stay in one of Chicago’s fine hotels? They could enjoy meals at Chicago’s fine array of eateries. Whoever wanted to fish for some excellent salmon or trout or smallmouth bass, could do that, while the rest of the group could shop on the Mag Mile. At the end of the day, everyone could get together and see a play in the city’s excellent theater district. What a great mini-vacation this would be.

So why don’t our elected officials take advantage of this tremendous opportunity to reap tourism dollars from a situation that is just sitting there waiting to be taken advantage of? I put this question to Chicago Mayor Brandon Johnson and his fellow elected officials. Please stop letting this opportunity go to waste.

• Daily Herald Outdoors columnist Steve Sarley can be reached at

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