Skokie Lagoons – Cook County, IL
Skokie Lagoons Facts
Size: 242 total acres
Max Depth: 15 feet (average 6-8 feet)
Shoreline: 11.1 miles
Location: Cook County Forest Preserves bordered by the Edens Expressway on the west, Forestway Drive on the east, Tower Road on the south and Dundee Road on the north. Adjacent to the communities of Glencoe, Winnetka and Northfield.
Fish: Largemouth bass, northern pike, walleye, crappie, channel catfish, bluegill, sunfish, yellow bass, bullhead, carp
Hours: Sunrise to Sunset
Jay’s General Comments
The Skokie Lagoons are a very popular series of 7 lagoons and channels located in the Cook County Forest Preserve District adjacent to Northfield, Winnetka and Glencoe, IL). Originally constructed between 1933 and 1942 as flood control for the Skokie River, the Skokie Lagoons soon became a destination for recreational activities such as boating, fishing, hiking and biking. An extensive restoration took place in the mid-90’s which included the poisoning and restocking of fish, shoreline restoration and a new boat launch south of Tower Road. During the 2000’s the Skokie Lagoons enjoyed a renaissance in fishing quality with anglers seeking largemouth bass, walleye, northern pike and catfish, all of which have been stocked annually.
With over 11 miles of shoreline and 227 total acres, there is a lot of excellent access to quality fishing. Trails run along both the east and west of the lagoons with Forestway Drive offering easy access and parking. The shore angler will be able to access many natural and man-made clearings from various trails and directly off of Forestway Drive. Boaters, kayakers and canoers can launch at the boat launch at Tower Road. Accessing the lagoons at other points for kayaks and canoes is also possible, depending on the particular clearing and water level conditions.
Largemouth bass is the primary gamefish of the Skokie Lagoons, followed closely by walleye and a fair to moderate northern pike population. There is lots of fallen timber, brush and trees along the shoreline – all of which are great for finding some excellent largemouth bass. Don’t be shocked to catch a 20+ inch bass or even larger. They are certainly in there. Walleye are found throughout the logoons as well but concentrate on areas near the dams, weed edges, and rocky areas for them. The Skokie Lagoons are also very popular for those seeking catfish. Panfish include crappie, bluegill, and yellow bass. Though present, panfish numbers and size are only fair-moderate.
The maximum depths of the Skokie Lagoons reach 10ft-15ft with an average depth of 6ft-8ft. Weeds can get dense during the late summer months. Standard bait choices apply for various species of fish. For bass, jigs are popular around fallen trees and brush, shallow running crankbaits near weed edges, soft plastics in weed pockets or weed edges and topwater baits throughout. Spinnerbaits are also very effective. Bottom bouncing crankbaits along weed edges can be productive for walleye.
2011 Stocking Information
Channel Catfish – 4034
Northern Pike – 1140
Skokie Lagoons Accommodations
The Skokie Lagoons is part of the Forest Preserve District of Cook County. Several porta-potties are available throughout the surrounding preserve areas. The only running water is from several well pumps. Parking is available along the Forestway Drive in most areas. A parking lot is available at the boat launch south of Tower Road as well. An ice cream truck frequently stays at the corner of Willow Road and Forestway Drive during the summer months offering treats and drinks. Restaurants and stores are located within 1 mile east or west of of Willow Road. If planing an outing to the Skokie Lagoons, it’s probably best to bring food and drink. Many areas of the surrounding preserve offer picnic shelters. The labyrinth of trails throughout the lagoon system offer little in the way of man-made rest areas or benches so be aware of that. Trails off the main bike paths can get quite muddy at times too.
Bess Hardware, located at 1875 Willow Road in Northfield, IL has a couple of aisles fishing tackle and lures. They also carry nightcrawlers. Hours are M-F 8am-8pm; Sat 8am-6pm; Sun 9am-4pm. Phone is 847-446-8570.
Jay’s Bottom Line
The Skokie Lagoons is one of those lakes where you always have a chance at a very good fish. There are some big bass and walleye in there for sure. One can indeed plan a day at the Skokie Lagoons. It is still a Cook County Forest Preserve Lake so lots of recreation does take place around the lagoons and the surrounding preserves.
Skokie Lagoons are also an excellent place for kayaking and canoeing. Paddlers will love all the channels beautiful surroundings. Lots of nooks and crannies to explore.
Skokie Lagoons Locations
Skokie Lagoons – Lagoon #1 and Willow Road Dam
View Skokie Lagoons – Willow Road Dam and Lagoon #1 in a larger map
Skokie Lagoons – Lagoon #2
View Skokie Lagoons – Lagoon #2 in a larger map
Skokie Lagoons – Lagoon #3, Tower Road Boat Launch, Canoe/Kayak Rental
View Skokie Lagoons – Lagoon #3 and Tower Road Boat Launch in a larger map