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updated: 5/23/2012 1:46 PM

Double your fun at Bangs, Independence Grove lakes

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  • If you haven't been to Independence Grove Forest Preserve near Libertyville, then you should make the trip for a great fishing experience, says outdoors columnist Mike Jackson.

       If you haven't been to Independence Grove Forest Preserve near Libertyville, then you should make the trip for a great fishing experience, says outdoors columnist Mike Jackson.
    Paul Valade | Staff Photographer

  • The Village of Wauconda, says outdoors columnist Mike Jackson, has done a great in creating great fishing opportunities on Bangs Lake. It has been one of Jackson's favorite lakes for more than 20 years.

       The Village of Wauconda, says outdoors columnist Mike Jackson, has done a great in creating great fishing opportunities on Bangs Lake. It has been one of Jackson's favorite lakes for more than 20 years.
    Paul Valade | Staff Photographer

 
 

Bangs Lake has been one of my favorites for well over 20 years.

It was -- and still is -- one of the better, public, largemouth bass lakes in the northwest suburbs. But the menu has somewhat changed, all to the plus side.

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This season Bangs shares that No. 1 spot status with Independence Grove Lake near Libertyville, all because of the tremendous management put in place by the Lake County Forest Preserve District.

But first let me tell you about the work the Village of Wauconda has done on Bangs.

With the addition of muskies and smallmouth bass, this 200-plus acre lake is going to give anglers some exciting fishing experiences.

It was in the 1990s when a friend and I caught and released more than 60 largemouth weighing in over 5 lbs. We also caught and released a dozen 7-pound fish as well. And that happened in just one season.

My partner and I caught bass on the surface, as well as using Little Action Mac pre-rigged, plastic worms, and in some case jigs tipped with 3-inch grubs.

When I discovered the lake held monster walleyes, I started fishing the deep holes at night. I also concentrated on the shorelines at dawn and caught walleyes on crankbaits.

One of my friends in Libertyville was kind enough to point me in the direction of beautiful lake in the Independence Grove Forest Preserve.

Good thinkers managed to transform a sterile gravel quarry with steep sides into a rich aquatic ecosystem with gently graded slopes and underwater islands. Muskie, northern pike, black crappie, largemouth bass, channel catfish, walleye, bluegill and yellow perch are found here.

Game fish are periodically stocked. A mandatory catch-and-release fishing program makes it recreational for anglers and beneficial for nature, according to officials at the Lake County Forest Preserve District.

Anglers are encouraged to use barbless, non-stainless steel hooks.

Independence Grove Lake recently gave up a 47-inch muskie, and that jumbo brought smiles to the faces of most muskie devotees.

I've had other acquaintances report they were able to do well on big largemouth bass as they explored parts of the lake. Several sections of the 115-acre body of water have excellent weed lines, as well as stretches of gravel and sand bottoms.

Another great aspect is that you can rent a nice boat with an electric (not misnamed as a trolling motor) for a morning or afternoon.

But back to Bangs Lake, where the best news is the stocking of smallmouth bass.

I never eat bass, so the lake's ruling that both largemouth and smallmouth bass fall into the catch-and-release category is fine with me.

I've reported to you in past columns that there are shoreline spots with very heavy surface cover that makes it ideal to use weedless, topwater lures.

The outside edges of those weed lines are good places to cast bass jigs tipped with plastic grubs or crawfish. But, like in past years, I prefer using the Little Action Mac because it seems to drive bass crazy.

Here's a rundown of the latest rules for Bangs Lake:

The daily limit for pike is one fish with a 36-inch minimum size; one muskie with a 36-inch minimum size; all bass are catch and release. You're allowed two walleyes a day in the 14-16 inch slot limit. Your limit on panfish (bluegill, sunfish, and perch) is 25 fish with a 6-inch minimum size. And the limit for crappie is 8 fish with a 10-inch minimum.

If you want more information on Independence Grove Lake, please check the Lake County Forest Preserve Web page or our links online at dailyherald.com.

•Contact Mike Jackson at angler88@comcast.net, and catch his radio show 6-7 a.m. Sundays on WSBC 1240-AM and live-streamed at www.mikejacksonoutdoors.com.

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