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March 11, 2013

The Chicago Angler

By Rohit Gupta '14  |  march, 2013, Issue 1
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Rohit Gupta during a more successful ice fishing attempt.

It was the first week of February and the time was 3:00 PM in the afternoon. The weather was a balmy -8 degree Celsius with a -15 degree wind chill. (I refuse to learn the confounding Fahrenheit temperature scale. Freezing at 33 degrees? Give me a break!) DuSable Harbor, which is situated right next to the Booth dorms (they are dorms, alright!) of MPP, Aqua, North Harbor Towers and the like had been frozen over for a few weeks now. The conditions were perfect for digging a hole in the ice and catching some perch. 

I set up camp next to several other eager ice fishermen all of whom had far more equipment than I did. I borrowed an ice auger from an old gentleman who looked as if he'd rather be there on the frozen lake than on a sunny Florida beach and proceeded to drill a hole to fish in. After ensuring that all my extremities were covered with ample wool and fleece, I dropped my six pound test fishing line into the hole. Armed with fresh shrimp bait purchased from Mariano's wonderful seafood section, I felt fairly confident of catching at least half a dozen perch.

I waited for a bite. The gentlemen around me were catching perch every few minutes. I waited some more. One gentleman was catching multiple perch on a single cast, so clearly the fish were active. So I waited some more. Seconds turned into minutes that turned into an hour and ultimately to two hours. Not a single nibble on my baited hook! I finally threw in the towel and biked back to MPP. A hot shower and grilled salmon provided some consolation to the day's proceedings.

Welcome to the wonderful world of fishing (and ice fishing in particular) right here in the middle of downtown Chicago. I say "wonderful" because despite catching nothing on that particular visit, I was rewarded with the wonderful serenity that comes from having a fishing line in the water just waiting for a nibble or a bite. All while being just five minutes away from home and being seated right next to tall gleaming skyscrapers. There's something inherently amazing about fishing with a glorious view of the tallest building in the Western hemisphere.

On subsequent visits, using the exact same fishing setup I might add, I have been consistently rewarded with multiple perch catches of my own as well as been regaled with wonderful stories by fellow anglers who make up the small angling community in Chicago. Our community is a dedicated one. During winters, we anglers brave sub-zero temperatures all in the pursuit of fish that most of us don't even take back home (catch and release is a wonderful thing). During spring we salivate at the potential of bagging a delicious steelhead trout as entire schools of them make their way up from the lower reaches of Lake Michigan near Indiana. In the fall season we go crazy with excitement in anticipation of the migration of the massive Chinook salmon (weighing more than 30 pounds in some cases). Year round fishing and an abundance of accessible piers and harbors makes Chicago one of the most angler-friendly cities in America.

Tight Lines!

Rohit can be reached at if you want to join him on his fishing adventures.

Last Updated 3/11/13
Last Updated 3/11/13