The St. Charles Park neighborhood makes a splash with plenty of Fox River adventure opportunities, offering unique experiences in the heart of downtown St. Charles. In partnership with local businesses, fishing, paddleboarding, kayaking and fitness are new programs available for all ages.
“Using the Fox River for safe recreational activities is unique to St. Charles and a benefit to the park district since many of our parks are located along the river,” said Sabrina Hunley, Recreation Supervisor .
The district offers nine parks with ponds or river access to enjoy this fun sport for everyone, although state licenses and regulations apply to all waterways.
All anglers, amateurs to experts, especially enjoy fishing on the Fox as there are plenty of fish to be found – bluegills, catfish, walleyes, muskellunge and smallmouth bass, to name a few.
In the Fishing Basics course, all ages will learn how to tie knots, bait a hook, cast, set and reel drag, and hook and release a fish. Each week participants will target a different species of fish as they like specific baits and water depths. All equipment is provided. Children 6 and under must be accompanied by a paying adult.
Chi-Yak Adventures owner Eric Stark spends his summers teaching all ages about his love of fishing.
“Fishing is my sanity,” Stark said. “You can’t beat being able to be on the water.”
As a middle school teacher and coach of fishing teams at Glenbard North High School, Stark has plenty of experience teaching to get everyone hooked on the sport. One of his favorite ways to fish is kayak fishing. He developed a program for teenagers to get them outside and away from their screens.
“Being able to get away from the congestion (along the) shoreline is very rewarding. It’s very scenic with cool places downtown that attract fish,” Stark said.
The goal after a four hour lesson is for students to be comfortable enough to stand up and cast their line as they try to land big catches.
Other reasons to paddle the river this summer include a variety of courses for ages 15 and up. Explore the basics of kayaking with Rocktown Adventures of Rockford, as their staff offers an introductory course with land and water practices.
“If your schedule allows, consider the evening class to watch the beautiful sunsets as you paddle the river,” Hunley said.
The kayaks aren’t just for paddling the river, as the instructor at Asanas & More Yoga leads a new class called Paddleboard Yoga. Challenge your strength and balance while performing yoga moves on a paddle board in the river. As the course description notes, participants will get wet. Hunley said it was the perfect class for a group of friends, even family members, to get together and have some laughs, splashes and a great workout.
Those looking to burn calories while kayaking should check out Kayaking for Fitness, led by instructors from the St. Charles Canoe Club. This multi-week course provides the basics of using a kayak with a focus on health and fitness benefits. It’s a great way to change up the cardio routine and enjoy the beauty of nature along the river. No prior kayaking skills are necessary and all equipment is provided.
If you own a kayak or canoe, take it out on Wednesdays from 5-8 p.m., June through October, to meet new people and hang out with other water enthusiasts while the St. Charles Canoe Club is hosting a fitness paddle practice, launching from Ferson Creek Park. Whether you’re looking for a vigorous workout or just some time to paddle and relax, there’s something for every level. It’s a great way to see some of St. Charles’ incredible purple, pink, and orange sunsets.
Not interested in a lesson, but still want to explore the Fox River? The River View Miniature Golf Course in Pottawatomie Park rents kayaks and paddle boats all summer from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. The hourly rate for kayaks is $15 and for pedal boats, $19. Both include life jackets, paddles and a boat. On Wednesdays, take advantage of the putt-n-save special with a discount of $5 per hour. 15 and under must be accompanied by an adult 18 and over. For more details, visit riverviewminigolf.org.