Reeling Them In
For more than a half-century, Lake Julian Trout Farm has made the thrill of fishing available to beginner and skilled anglers in Chicagoland.
Lake Julian Trout Farm is one of the last remaining of its kind in the area, with more than 70 years of family ownership under its belt.
Today, the trout farm is privately stocked with trout, bass, northern pike, walleye, catfish and panfish, offering affordable fishing where no license is required.
“It’s a safe and comfortable place to take the family,” owner Dorothy Miller said. “We’re close to Chicago, inexpensive and you get to take home your catch. Kids have a good time here.”
The farm attracts about 10,000 people a year, ranging from two- to 90-year-olds, Miller said, with a majority coming from Chicago. She’s seen more women fishing over the years, something that was unheard of when her father opened the farm to the public in 1953.
A Family Affair
Dorothy Miller, whose ancestors were gravel miners on the property dating back to the 1800s, now owns and operates the land her father purchased in 1932 when it was still a mine.
“He got into trout fishing as a hobby,” Miller said. “He started raising and selling trout and it became more of a business.”
Today, Miller is a second-generation fish farmer and the fourth generation with ties to this property, for which she takes great pride. “My fondest memories include growing up on this property and sharing it with my children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren,” she said.
Although her sons are not part of the family business, “I want to keep this in the family,” she said.
Her challenge is to maintain the beauty and welfare of the 40-acre property, 22 acres that are part of the village of Cary and 11 that fall outside. “I try to keep this property reminiscent of a North Woods fishing camp and I think keeping it rustic and rural has been a major factor in our long-term success,” she said. “My biggest fear is [the threat of] runoff from traffic on Northwest Highway. Flooding is another concern. Mismanagement of Jack’s Channel could change our water levels.”
Miller considers Lake Julian an important water resource and said she will continually strive to protect it.
Something for All
A day at Lake Julian is a great outdoor adventure, especially for young children learning how to fish. “This is an ideal way to get a kid started fishing,” Miller said. “Our staff is always close by to give new fishermen a few pointers.”
Lake Julian is a favorite among families, Miller said. “It’s a perfect place for a fun family get-away,” she explained.
In addition to families, scouting, youth groups and senior groups make up a significant part of Lake Julian’s visitors. Also, Chicago Bears linebacker Brian Urlacher regularly hosts a picnic at Lake Julian sponsored by Vitaminwater.
Not only is Lake Julian a fun adventure for all ages, it’s affordable, Miller said.
Rates in the big lake are just $8 per person ($4 for kids) for the entire day. Along with this fee, guests are allowed to take home a limit of two trout, two bass, two northern pike, two walleye, four catfish and 10 panfish.
The largest fish caught in each of these categories for each season wins a free season pass for the following year. One of the largest fish ever caught on Lake Julian was a 37-pound catfish.
The staff will clean fish for 60 cents each, and give guests some recipe tips (see below for Dorothy’s favorite trout recipe).
Lake Julian is located at 65 Northwest Hwy. It is open April to October, closed Monday and Tuesday. Call 847-639-3734 for more.