Wednesday, June 22, 2011

montrose harbor perch fishing report

sunrise over montrose harbor
This was my maiden voyage into the fantastic world of harbor perch fishing. Many of these harbors are found just a stones throw from downtown Chicago and have the tendency to attract some really big crowds. I met Damien and his father down there for a short morning perch outing and was happy to have a few guys with some experience show me the ropes. Damien recommended an early start to get a jump on the crowds and catch that early morning bite so we all met down there around 4:45am.

5:00am and the crowds are starting to develop at montrose harbor
In the beginning, the entire scene kinda looked like a hodge-podge of people lined up and down the pier casting baits blindly into the huge lake waiting for a bite, but as time went on the different intricacy began to show themselves to me. People from all walks of life and all different skill levels were present. You had those who preferred using live bait and others who insisted on using lures. Others were fishing to eat and some were just fishing for the thrill of catching an Illinois jumbo perch. The one thing that stood out above anything else was the amount of guys that fished these waters on a regular basis. It is almost like a secret society that exists within this jumbled mess of people and many may not even pick up on it if they are not looking hard. Regulars will exchange and share information quickly in passing almost like two people on motorcycles will exchange those half cock downward waves. I’m not suggesting you ease drop on conversations, but you sure as hell can learn a lot just by watching them. The types of baits they fish and the subtle differences in presentation go along way when casting from a pier.

my first montrose harbor perch
Even though (according to Damien) it was a slow bite, we all managed a nice handful of fish for only fishing for two and a half hours. I heard lots of talk on the pier about the weather and the wind not being just right and too much bait in the water resulting in full fish but I knew no different. Here are the 3 main tactics I saw used.

  • Live bait fishing- Mostly on slip bobbers and some with jigs. It didn’t seem to be nearly as effective due to the gobies harassing the minnows.

  • Finesse plastics- We fished these on a tandem jig head rig. While tying your knot leave the tag end long and attach another jig head to the tag. Twice the baits, twice the chances, and twice the casting weight. Seems like a win win all around. Counted down to deeper depths before jigging it back in. Watch out for the rocks!

  • Slim profile crank baits- Fished with a heavy split shot and also counted down to the deeper depths. Seemed very effective for Damien but resulted in some smaller fish (that day). He threw mostly shad raps. Retrieve was varied.
my modest haul of perch from montrose harbor


  1. Sounds like an interesting experience. Glad to see you got into some Perch. Never been to Chicago, so nice to read about some fishing there.

  2. It kind of reminds me of ice fishing in away. Sounds like a good part of society to be part of. Thanks for the tips and great pics and fish too. Tight Lines.

  3. Thanks guys, Chicago is a great places for alot of different types of fishing!