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updated: 8/10/2011 4:34 PM

Mike Jackson on Bangs Lake's big bass

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  • A 7-pound largemouth bass recently caught (and released) at Bangs Lake in Wauconda shows this body of water is regularly producing big fish.

    A 7-pound largemouth bass recently caught (and released) at Bangs Lake in Wauconda shows this body of water is regularly producing big fish.
    Photo by Mike Jackson


The old-timers who had fished this body of water 40 and 50 years ago will definitely believe this tale, because they saw similar results themselves.

A friend called and urged me to visit his place on Bangs Lake in Wauconda to sample the ever-burgeoning largemouth bass population.

Bangs was one of my father's favorite bluegill and crappie lakes when I was a kid. We spent many hours catching scads of panfish as well as a few decent bass and catfish.

Today, Bangs Lake is basically a multi-use body of water that plays host to speed boats, water skiers, jet skis, pontoon cruisers and a few sailboats. The angling community merits little attention when they show up to purchase a lake usage permit at City Hall.

But the lake has a few surprises that await you. In fact, I have written more columns about Bangs than any other body of area water.

My friend Roger and I used to score a lot on this 200-plus acre lake with 5-pound largemouth. For some strange reason, however, I've focused on other lakes of late.

There are walleyes, a few muskies, a few smallmouth bass, jumbo crappie and bluegills, as well as a fairly substantial number of big largemouth bass in Bangs.

One interesting factor about this body of water is its clarity and defined weed lines, which now are nearly devoid of the usual huge amount of gummy algae. The green goo is generally a by-product from lawn fertilization, and lake management has improved in recent years, which has resulted in excellent largemouth angling.

Roger was rigged with his typical Texas-style plastic worm setup. I had a spinning rod ready to go with a Little Action Mac worm.

Roger scored first with a very scrappy 2-pound bass. He caught three more "chunks" before I switched over to the same rig. And just as I was ready to make a cast Roger yelled that he had a big fish hooked.

I watched his rod double over into a pretzel-like arc. The fish headed under the boat and stayed there for at least a minute. As Roger applied more pressure, I watched and listened to the line zip off the reel. The "beast" now ran for a deep spot, dragging us behind like a towed cargo ship.

Roger tightened the drag and started to regain some line back on the reel. And then we saw it. It was immense, with gills flaring like flaps on an airplane.

Roger was going into the fifth minute of this battle. I told him to put the screws to the fish because he was now soaked with perspiration.

I slipped the net into the water and Roger managed to muscle the fish to where I was waiting. I yelled that I had it. Roger then reached into his tackle bag and brought out a scale. With the monster still hooked and in the net, Roger slipped the electronic scale's hook into the fish's lower lip. Our eyes popped when we saw the big, black readout showing the fish's weight at more than 7 pounds. It took both of us to remove the hook and revive this beautiful creature. After 30 seconds it slowly swam away and headed for the safety of the weeds.

A round of high-fives was in order, and then back to business.

I caught the next bass, a mere 2-pounder but a nice fish nevertheless. I caught another one almost immediately after the first. And then Roger went to work. He proceeded to catch a pair of 4-pounders. He was on a roll.

We left the lake a happy duo, knowing those great days we spent on Bangs years ago were being repeated again.

This is a hot lake and now's the time to make it happen. Stop in at Bangs Bait (on Main Street) for current lake information.

• Contact Mike Jackson at, and catch his radio show 6-7 a.m. Sundays on WSBC 1240-AM.