Boating Lake County Blog

Land a Big One on a Charter Fishing Excursion!


Waukegan offers Lake Michigan’s largest charter fleets. Here’s how to choose your boat.

Whether you’re an experienced angler looking for some exceptional game fish action, or looking for a great way to share an adventure with your friends or family, Waukegan Harbor & Marina and North Point Marina at Winthrop Harbor should definitely be your ports of call.

You’ll find the Coho salmon running in late spring, lake trout biting in mid-summer and the magnificent Chinook salmon come home to spawn in late summer and early fall. You’ll also find yellow perch, walleye pike, steelhead and brown trout. Whatever time of the year you go, you’ll find expert charter fishing captains ready to make your time on the water a great one.

Just 38 miles north of downtown Chicago, Waukegan Harbor & Marina in Waukegan, Illinois, has been renowned for over 50 years as the home of one of the largest charter fishing fleets on Lake Michigan. North Point Marina, just 10 miles further north, boasts more than 25 charter boats for hire. 

Licensed charter fishing captains are skilled at reading the weather, water conditions, and fish behavior. An experienced captain knows what fish are running and can recommend the right lures and bait for each species.

By booking charters at these two popular sites, you can be sure you’ll be on a boat with a licensed captain who meets all Coast Guard certifications. 

Here are some tips when choosing a charter boat:

  • Charters can usually be booked for either a half-day or full-day. Rates can average from $450 to $600 for five-hour excursions with four to six people. These should include the cost of the captain, vessel, fuel and dockage.
  • If you have little to no experience fishing, or plan to bring children along, be sure to mention this when reserving your charter. 
  • Ask the captain what is provided and what you need to bring along. 
  • Most charters provide fishing gear as part of the package.
  • If you’re planning to enjoy an adult beverage on the excursion, be sure that your charter allows alcohol; some do not.
  • If you’re planning to bring food, let your charter know in advance. Some charters will provide food and beverages for an extra fee. 
  • You will need an Illinois fishing license. Licenses are available online and many charters offer daily licenses on board for an additional cost. Everyone on the boat, ages 16 and over, is required to have a license. 
  • Some charters will also filet your catch for you on the boat and keep it on ice. Otherwise, there are fish-cleaning stations at both marinas.
  • Captains (and any crew) rely on tipping as part of their livelihood. A tip of 1520% after returning to port is standard.

Waukegan Charter Listings
(847) 2443474

Waukegan Harbor & Marina
55 South Harbor Place
Waukegan, IL
(847) 2443474

North Point Charter Boat Association
1573 Saint Paul Avenue
Gurnee, IL
(847) 6683905

North Point Marina
701 North Point Drive
Winthrop Harbor, IL
(847) 7462845

For more information on hotel and lodging, dining, attractions, and fun things to do throughout Lake County, call Visit Lake County at 8476622700, or online at vis​it​lake​coun​ty​.org.

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