Big Bend Lake – Cook County, IL
Big Bend Lake Facts
Size: 27 acres
Max Depth: 27 feet (average max depth: 9-15 feet)
Shoreline: 1.1 miles
Location:Cook County Forest Preserve land bordered by Des Plaines, IL and Niles, IL – southwest of Golf Road and East River Road. Entrance on East River Road 1/4 miles south of Golf.
Fish: Largemouth bass, northern pike, crappie, channel catfish, bluegill, sunfish, bullhead, carp
Hours: Sunrise to Sunset
Jay’s General Comments:
Big Bend Lake was constructed in 1958 so the land could be used as fill for the new Tri-State Tollway. Today, this 27 foot deep lake is one of the few non-stocked or fishery managed lakes of the Cook County Forest Preserve system. The main reason for this is the spillway which connects Big Bend Lake to the Des Plaines River. If fish were to be stocked, they would simply wash away into the river during times of very high water. It is for that very reason, however, that there are fish at all in Big Bend – they come in from the river as well as out.
The natural fish habitat in Big Bend Lake is quite poor. The lake is devoid of any real aquatic vegetation. There is some, but it is sparse. The bottom is mostly sand, gravel and muck. The shoreline supports only small sections of vegetation as well and there are very few fallen trees or brush in the water. Though lacking these elements, the depth and drop-offs provide some semblance habitat for fish. Most of the perimeter of the lake drops off to 9+ feet pretty quickly with the southeast shore dropping off to a maximum of 27.5 feet. The channels around the “island” (which is actually a peninsula), have a quick drop-off to depth of 8+ feet.
The Des Plaines River has a very high of population of northern pike and they certainly make their way into Big Bend. Largemouth bass and crappie are also interlopers from the river. Success in finding these fish will usually come from finding various points, drop-offs or under water structure. Shore fishing is generally considered poor for game fish, but decent catches of bass and pike can be had. A boat will likely increase the odds of finding fish, especially if equipped fish depth/fish finding electronics. Crappie fishermen will often concentrate on areas near the spillway. Carp and bluegill can be caught throughout the lake. Another popular spot is not actually the lake, but the Des Plaines River side of the spillway. Spinnerbaits are an excellent choice of lure for northern pike.
There is a boat ramp and the lake allows sailboats, canoes, kayaks, approved inflatables, private rowboats and electric motors. No outboard motors are allowed.
Beck Lake Accommodations
There are portapoties near the parking lot. No running water. Shopping and stores are less than 5 minutes away east on Golf Road. Picnicing is popular at Big Bend Lake. The area out on the peninsula is a beautiful location to enjoy recreation. A non-paved trail surrounds the lake, but be aware that it is interrupted be the spillway, which can be traversed during times of low water with caution. The trails along the western edge of the lake are often quite muddy.
Jay’s Bottom Line
You won’t likely plan a day at Big Bend specifically for fishing, but for the casual angler or those who don’t want to travel far, it is a lovely little lake with the occasional fish.