Lake Spotlight: Slocum Lake (Lake Co., IL)

Perhaps one of the larger, lesser known lakes in Lake County, Slocum Lake is landlocked by private property holders keeping it somewhat of a secret to non-locals of the Wauconda-Island Lake area.  The 228 acre lake is much less developed than many of the other lakes in upper Illinois.  It is a shallow, glacially formed lake located southwest of the intersection if IL Route 176 and Darrell Road which ultimately drains to the Fox River 1 mile downstream.  The lake is detailed within reports completed by the Lake County Health Department – Lakes Management Unit here:  https://www.lakecountyil.gov/DocumentCenter/Home/View/14196.

The lake itself has a long and arduous history of sedimentation and nutrient loading and the situation has been exacerbated by overpopulation of carp.  Slocum Lake receives limited management effort from the local lake management association, the Slocum Lake Management Association (SLMA).  The group is a loose aggregation of independent landowners, Island Lake residents, and unincorporated homeowner’s associations in Lake County.  While the commitment to maintaining the lake exists, the dedicated few are somewhat challenged by a small number of end users and stakeholders which greatly limits the funding base.  Outside of the occasional weed spraying, the lake is unmanaged.

Slocum Lake has a stunted fishery in many regards.  Occasional reports of a decent crappie haul near the spillway occur otherwise large catfish do exist on the lake.  The remaining sport fishery is sparse at best due to a lack of concentrated structure and extremely high turbidity which makes thing extremely difficult on predator species other than the aforementioned catfish.  Creel surveys bring in the routine 5-6″ black crappie and yellow bass, with bottom fishing bringing in a heavy survey of carp with assorted catfish and drum.  These are observations made primarily from creek survey.  The Lake County Health Department – Lakes Management Unit used to have an fish inventory assessment for Slocum Lake included within one of their older reports; however with a quick search we were unable to recover the information.  Fish inventories are typically performed by the Illinois Department of Natural Resources (IDNR) and the information is shared with other government agencies.

The bottom structure of Slocum Lake is routinely soft, mixed, and unconsolidated organic layer of various watershed constituents, releasing a heavy smell of sulfur when exposed to the air.  I can be traversed in waders with some effort.  The cattail/phragmites weed line extends to a water depth of 15-18″ at the most giving way to thick beds of Eurasion Milfoil upon ice-out conditions.  The weedline (both emergents & submerged vegetation alike) varies around the lake.

The lake has a common inlet located on the east side of the lake commonly named Bangs Lake Drain (drains from Bangs Lake outfall in Wauconda) which drains most of the storm sewers in Wauconda the IL Route 176 corridor between Wauconda and Island Lake.  The water quality from the Drain is poor which is a reflection of the watershed, not the source.  The material deposits in Slocum Lake prior to discharging over outflow weir on the on the south side of the lake.  The discharge waters (referred to as Slocum Lake Drain), confluence with Fiddle Creek approximately 1/2 mile downstream prior to reaching the Fox River in Port Barrington.

Although the fishing is a bit suspect the lake does have good wildlife views.  Routine Great Blue Heron and Sandhill Cranes frequent the wetland edges, and residents also have photographic evidence of resident eagles among the bird population.  Large snapping turtles also frequent the lake.  As mentioned previously the lake is underdeveloped which is a good thing as it has kept the shoreline protected; however much of the vegetation present is either overgrown and/or invasive.  With land rights being what the are, the correction to this will either have to fall under an understanding landowner, or progressive conversation with a landowner willing to accept prescriptive easements over the property.  Neither option is altogether appealing.

Finally, there may be some opportunity to eventually obtain public access to the lake assuming a negotiation can be had between the SLMA, local landowners and either the Wauconda Township and/or Lake County.  Both agencies own property adjacent to the lake, but limited lake access itself.  Should lake access be obtained and shared for the common good of the public, perhaps grant dollars or other funds can be obtained to better address in-lake issues.

~p0sted by Admin

 

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