In just a few days, what was Chicagoland’s oldest cooling pond, Heidecke Lake will open for shore anglers and boaters.
Formerly known as Collins Lake, Heidecke was impounded in the late 1970’s. Its waters have been used to cool down the Collins Station power plant that was owned and operated by Midwest Generation. The Illinois DNR manages the fishery there.
A few years back the plant was shut down and dismantled piece by piece. The lake is now like any other natural lake in northern Illinois. Many anglers still call it one of northern Illinois’ cooling lakes.
Ice just came off the lake quite a while ago. With that, the lake water will be cool and the fish will not be as active as Braidwood and LaSalle, Chicagoland’s existing cooling lakes which opened just weeks ago for the 2010 season.
Heidecke Lake has pure and hybrid stripers, largemouth and smallmouth bass, catfish, walleye, bluegills, crappie and yellow bass. I can’t forget the muskie. Heidecke has them too and some big ones.
So will people catch fish on the April 1 opening day? You can bet they will.
Traditionally Heidecke produces some decent fish in all species early on. Numbers may not be there but the quality will be good. As the water warms, it just gets better.
Boaters always wonder if they can navigate under the railroad bridge so they can fish the northern half of the lake. The bridge is part of the center dike which separates the north and south pools of Heidecke Lake. We'll see on opening day.
Boaters with windshields still cannot get under the bridge. Clearance is only a few feet. And those who are able to squeak under the low bridge must constantly watch the wind. Should a heavy wave action come upon the lake, damage to the boat and motor cowling is guaranteed.
Fish limits are posted at the ramp and the bank fishing areas. Anyone who visits Heidecke should check these site specific regulations upon their arrival and keep within the new size and creel limits which will be enforced.
Heidecke Lake’s boat ramps are found on Jugtown Road north of Pine Bluff/Lorenzo Road, east of Morris. There is no bank fishing allowed by the boat ramps.
Bank fishing is permitted in the area of the center dike. Parking for bank fishing can be reached by going north of Dresden Road from Pine Bluff/Lorenzo Road.