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In northern Illinois we have one lake that is so well know for its bass fishing that many anglers forget about it during the ice season.
I don’t get out ice fishing that often, but on a recent trip, I found out that Bangs Lake in Wauconda is an ice anglers dream come true. This was my first time on Bangs Lake, but it can be guaranteed that it won’t be the las
Ice going out right now. There’s no way of telling if you can get out there with the auger and bucket of rods or if it’s time to launch the boat. Spring will be good for walleyes and bass at Bangs. But the first fish to target in my opinion is the Northern Pike.
Bangs Lake is just about 300 acres in size; not real big. But it’s big enough to produce some quality fish. Its maximum depth is about 30 feet. It basically has gentle slopes to the deeper water in the middle, however the lake is divided in to two pools. One is a large pool, about two thirds of the lake with a saddle area with extending points separating it from the smaller pool that’s to the northeast. Both areas have some no wake areas.
The northern shores of the main pool and the smaller pool will be your best bets to look for spring northern. If the water opens this month, you may find the pike after a string of warmer days with a lot of sun. Most all of the northern shores are only four to eight foot deep and that water will warm up a lot quicker than other parts of the lake.
Because of how the sun comes up and around from the east to west in the southern skies, the northern banks will get more exposure to the sun and will warm up first. This is why the northern banks of BangsLake will be a good place to start when looking for Northerns.
I suggest live bait for the pike whether you’re fishing through the ice or out of a boat. Big golden roaches will work well. Hook them through the back with a good sized hook tied on to some tiger leader or heavy braided line. All you need is a foot to eighteen inches for the leader and you’ll be safe from bit offs. Let the bait swim below a bobber that will keep the minnow a foot off the bottom or any weeds that you will find.
As the water warms even more, you’ll soon get into some of the lakes huge crappies, bass and bluegills.
When I was there last month ice fishing, I was pleasantly surprised to see so many anglers with crappies that were twelve, thirteen and fourteen inches long. It seemed unbelievable but true. All of the big crappies that I saw came on live bait. Some real nice sized Northerns were taken and two that I actually saw were about thirty-five inches and just shy of forty.
In one case, a large golden roach was used, while in the other, a dead bait rig was what caught the near forty inch pike.
BangsLake is easy to get to. By way of Rt. 12, once you arrive in Wauconda, just take Rt. 176 east to the lake if you’re coming from the north or Old Rand Road if coming from the south.
Personally I’m hoping that spring will be here soon. I really want to try BangsLake for the bass fishing. It won’t be long before the waters warm and the fish become active. My plan of attack will be to fish with a spinnerbait, most likely, a white spinnerbait.
By boat, I’ll cruise the northern shores as I would for pike and look for weeds. The spinnerbait that I’ll have tied on will have a singe Colorado or Indiana blade. I want a big thump and a good flash from a silver or chrome plated blade. I really like the skirts that are translucent white with a little silver fleck.
Most of the time when throwing a spinnerbait in pike territory, the fish will get the bait and not the line. So usually I will not put on a length of tiger leader or some very heavy pound test super braid line. But, if there is a potential of getting a big pike, and at BangsLake there is, it would be wise to add about eighteen inches of either one to save the bait from a bite off.
With several trips on the ice this year, no one can argue that ice fishing has been fun. But the other side of me says, let the ice melt away and come on spring. I want to get my boat out and head north to BangsLake. From my south suburban home it’s only about an hour and a half drive. So for me, that makes great fishing not that far away.