Busse Lake - Cook County, IL

Busse Lake Facts

Size: 590 acres
Max Depth: 26 feet (average max depth: 10 feet)
Shoreline: 20.4 miles
Location: Bordered by Rt 53 on west, Arlington Heights Road on east, Higgins Rd on North. Located in the Ned Brown Forest Preserve
Fish: Largemouth bass, northern pike, walleye, crappie, channel catfish, musky (since 2007), bluegill, warmouth, sunfish, yellow bass, pumpkinseed, bullhead, carp
Hours: Sunrise to Sunset
Read more information and reports on our Busse Lake Message Forum


Jay's General Comments

Busse Lake is a very popular body of water for anglers of all levels. It receives a fair amount of fishing pressure from weekend anglers and too often from anglers who do not obey fishing regulations - which, coupled with poor water clarity, cause Busse Lake to often be overlooked as a quality fishery. This is unfortunate because Busse Lake is probably one of the best lakes in the entire region to catch a variety of species of game fish in good size.

Busse Lake is located in the Ned Brown forest preserve and was constructed in 1978 as a flood control reservoir and public recreation area. It was opened for fishing in 1980 after extensive stocking efforts.

Busse Lake is officially divided up into 3 sections - the main lake at 419 acres; the south pool at 146 acres, and the north pool at 25 acres. Other sections include the area north of Higgins road that turns into Salt Creek, Clearwater Bay which is actually part of the Main Lake, Hasse Lake which is part of the south pool, the main dam which spills down into Salt creek from the main lake, and the warm-water-discharge just downstream of the main dam in Salt Creek.

What can you catch at Busse lake? Plenty! The walleye and largemouth bass angler will find Busse to be most appealing. Walleye have been stocked for years and flourish at Busse Lake. Largemouth bass do very well at Busse and catches of 18"+ are common. Northern Pike are present at Busse and are most commonly caught by bass anglers. Muskellunge have been aggressively stocked since 2007 are are showing promising results. Several quality musky have been caught in 2012. Catfish of 5 lbs.+ can be had from Busse Lake and crappie do very well too.

The shore angler will find a half dozen fishing walls located throughout the entire lake. system And there are literally miles of workable shoreline. Those fishing from a boat will be able to access many terrific spots which are out of reach to the shore angler. There are sections of submerged timber, rocks, weedlines, lily pads, you name it. The structure at Busse Lake is very diverse and extensive. Most of my success fishing Busse Lake over the years from shore is to get off the beaten path. The areas closest to the parking lots often get hammered with pressure. Walking along a trail or some modest bushwhacking can often lead to very promising waters that receives little pressure.

The Busse Lake main lake and south pool areas are the sections that receive the most pressure from anglers pleasure crafters (no outboards or jet-skiis). These are also the sections that receive annual stocking. Some recent stocking numbers...

Busse Lake 2012 Fish Stocking Report - Main Lake:
Channel Catfish - 3104
Muskellunge - 840
Walleye - 13,280

Busse Lake 2012 Fish Stocking Report - South Pool:
Channel Catfish - 2104
Northern Pike - 415
Walleye - 6390

2012 fish size when stocked:
Catfish are around 6"; northern pike 6"- 8"; musky 10" - 12"; walleye fingerlings 2" - 3"

Busse Lake 2011 Fish Stocking Report - Main Lake:
Catfish - 5143
Muskellunge - 800

Busse Lake 2011 Fish Stocking Report - South Pool:
Catfish - 5143
Northern Pike - 427

Busse Lake 2010 Fish Stocking Report - Main Lake:
Catfish - 5143
Muskellunge - 840
Walleye - 13695

Busse Lake 2010 Fish Stocking Report - South Pool:
Catfish - 5143
Northern Pike - 427
Walleye - 7695

No idea how they come up with those odd numbers, nonetheless, Busse Lake is stocked annually with big numbers of fish. The North Pool of Busse Lake is not stocked and is frequently overlooked. Some of my best largemouth bass in recent years have come from the shorelines of the Busse Lake north pool including many fish of 18"+. No boats are allowed on the north pool.

There are seasonal boat rentals on the main lake and you can access both the main lake and south pools from there. Rowboats, canoes and kayaks are available for rental. Pricing is a little high and based on the hour, but still reasonable. I've rented a canoe just to go scouting around the lake to find new spots to access from shore. It's a beautiful lake for paddling and the boats can get to many of the remote locations where some big fish reside.

Ice fishing is popular through the winter months at Busse Lake when the ice is at least 4" thick. But even more popular during winter is the "Busse warm water discharge". Actually located on Salt Creek down from the main dam area, this discharge from a north suburban water treatment facility contains a section of water that never freezes and offers some excellent open water fishing for bass, northern pike, walleye, crappie, and bluegill when everywhere else is frozen solid. It is very shallow and the fish spook easily so it's important not to cause too much commotion and to fish with lighter gear.

Busse Lake Accommodations

There are plenty of large restroom facilities throughout the Ned Brown Forest Preserve as well as some porta-pottys. Some restrooms do have sinks with running water. Not always very clean, as these are still forest preserve facilities. There is lots of parking throughout the entire preserve.

The boat rentals have concessions available when they are open during the summer months. The surrounding communities have plenty of shops, restaurants, etc. Woodfield Mall, one of the largest malls in the country is located just minutes west of Busse Lake. Hotels and motels are not far either.

For bait and tackle, one of the best places in the entire area is Lee's Bait and Tackle located in the mall on Arlington Heights Road and Higgins. He has a large selection of live bait and some tremendous tackle, rods, reels, etc. A true quality shop.

Busse Lake Videos

Tommy's video from 8/20/11 kayak fishing Busse Lake

Jay's Bottom Line

Busse Lake is one of the few shining stars for fishing in the Cook County forest preserve system. The surrounding forest preserve is also ideal for family picnics, corporate outings, barbecues, etc. The paved trails are great for joggers, hikers, bicycling, and rollerblading.

Busse Lake is a place where one can definitely plan a fishing outing. A boat will increase chances of getting on some better fish, but the shore fisherman has 20 miles of shoreline to explore.

For current Busse Lake conditions, fishing reports and news, visit the Busse Lake Forum of our message boards.

Busse Lake Message Forum

Busse Lake Maps

Check out these beautiful new contour depth maps of Busse Lake's Main Pool, South Pool and North Pool. From the Cook County Forest Preserve District.


Busse Lake Location

Busse Lake - Google My Maps
View Busse Lake in a larger map
Busse Lake is located in the Ned Brown Forest Preserve of the Cook County Forest Preserve District. It is bordered by Rt 53 on west, Arlington Heights Road on east, Higgins Rd on North. Busse Lake and the surrounding preserve is adjacent to Elk Grove Village, Illinois.

Busse Lake 2013 Fishing Reports

April 4, 2013


17" Busse Lake largemouth bass caught April 4, 2013.​

Fished Busse Lake with Busse Jim from 2pm-7pm. Temps in the 50's; mostly sunny; breezy south/southwest winds 10-15mph.

Started out as a slow afternoon on the main pool. No action at all and the carp were jumping like crazy! More than i've ever seen. Moved to another location and tossed the trusty Red Eye Shad. Jim landed the first bass at 13.5". I followed with a 14 incher. Would later catch a 16" and 17" bass. Jim landed a few more too.

8 total bass between us, 5 for Jim and 3 for me. 2nd outing of the season and it felt AWESOME to be able to yell "fish on!"



April 5, 2013


Busse Lake 19" largemouth bass​

Blustery cold day at Busse Lake. Temps in the low-mid 40's; NE winds 5-15mph; mostly sunny; fished from 4:30pm-6pm.

Worked the same areas as yesterday but found no takers. Walked around to the wind blown shore as a last minute attempt before leaving and was rewarded with a beautiful 19" largemouth bass. Best bass in a couple of years. The mouth on this fish was huge! Damn exciting!

Caught on a Red Eye Shad.



April 6, 2013


Busse Lake 13.5" largemouth bass​

Last minute decision to get out today. Fished Busse Lake from 5pm-7pm; very strong southwest winds 15-40mph; temps close to 70; storms threatening.

Thought it might be a little better but did manage 3 largemouth bass from 11" - 13.5", all on lipless rattle baits.

Busse's been good to me the past few days.



April 8, 2013


A little 10" largemouth bass from Busse Lake​

Fished Busse Lake from 3pm - 6:30pm. Strong NW 15-30mph to start; winds diminished to west 0-5mph; mostly sunny.

Managed 2 largemouth bass on Red Eye Shad lipless crankbaits. Both were very small at about 10" each. The rain in the morning and crazy winds/weather may have been an issue, but hey, a couple of fish nonetheless.