Venue Information


Barth Pond at Patriots Park




55th and Fairview, Downers Grove, IL


Easy to reach from either  I-355 or I-55. From I-355, take the Maple / Chicago Ave. exit and head east. The road will eventually merge into 55th street. Barth's is approximately 3 miles down on the right.


From I-55, take Cass street north until you reach 55th street. Take a left on 55th  the pond is approximately 1 mile down on the left.


Click here or on the adjacent map for more detailed information - just type in '55th and Fairview, Downers Grove, IL' in the search area'






Barth Pond is a ~ 7 acre body of water with a maximum depth of 5 feet and an average depth of 3 feet. However, since Barth's is a retention pond, water levels can fluctuate dramatically - in summer the water level can drop to around a foot or so, while in winter and spring the pond occasionally floods over its banks. Such occurrences are not the norm though, so anglers should in no way be dissuaded from visiting this idyllic venue.


The pond itself has a spillway at it's eastern end, which provides a constant flow of oxygenated water. Although the depth here is on the shallow side (~1 - 2 ft), carp up to 10 pounds in weight can be caught from the three fishing stations immediately below the spillway during spring, summer and fall. During the winter, the pond's larger inhabitants relocate to the venue's only deep water 'hole', located at the pond's extreme western edge. Bluegills, catfish, shiners, as well as a limited number of crappie, bass and the occasional grass carp, are well distributed throughout the pond, although the slightly deeper northern shore tends to fish better during the cooler months.


Access to the water’s edge is easily accomplished via a paved perimeter path around the pond, while large, nicely spaced limestone paving slabs placed at the water's edge make for clean, comfortable fishing stations.


Fish species generally encountered include bluegill, catfish and carp. Sunfish most often dominate anglers’ catches, with the occasional larger catfish or carp also showing from time to time.



Downers Grove Park District site


View of Barth's from the NW parking lot (courtesy Downers Grove Park District)

Satellite image of Barth Pond courtesy of Terraserver

View of Barth's northern shore looking towards the venue's western 'hole' - an excellent choice for  big fish during the cooler months.

Father and Son team Harold and Frank with a nice bag of pan fish, captured during the Spring 2005  MAC event at Barth Pond

A happy but very cold Pat  holding a match wining (12 pound) bag 'o gils, caught during an early season event at Barth's Pond. Proof that bluegills bite even on the coldest of days!



Venue Ratings






Excellent. Large numbers of obliging fish, excellent access, pleasant surroundings and above average facilities render Barth's an outstanding venue, especially for anglers with families.



Excellent. Large numbers of pan fish swimming close to shore, as well as decent numbers of (stocked) catfish, carp and the occasional 'escapee' goldfish make this venue a great choice for bankanglers looking for fast and varied action.


Excellent.  Barth's is within easy distance of both I-355 and I-55.  The pond itself has a paved path around its perimeter. Anglers are free to fish from a good  number of purpose built fishing stations around the pond's edge, which make for comfortable day on the water.



Good. Barth's has ample parking, spacious picnic areas, kids play areas and temporary (spring, summer and fall only) port potty restrooms.

Pat’s notes:  I've fished Barth's countless times, as I used to live just a couple of miles away from the venue. As mentioned above, bluegills are prolific and will dominate an angler's catch. These fish bite at all times of the year, with good numbers of these fish always available immediately after ice-out. During the warmer months carp and catfish can be caught from around the spillway at the ponds eastern boundary, although heavy fishing pressure has caused these fish to become 'cagy' over the last few seasons. Best baits are spikes for the gills and corn for the carp, although pretty much any bait can work at this outstanding venue.


Venue Reports

4/16/03:CBA match #1,  Barth Pond - terrible weather, great results!

Meteorologically speaking, things weren't looking so good for the CBA's first match of the 2003 season scheduled for April 6th on Barth pond. Temperatures were predicted for the low - mid 30's, along with winds approaching gale force and a chance of snow in the afternoon(!) - not the best fishing weather by any means, but this didn't deter the 14 or so intrepid souls who made it out to Barth's for the 8:00 am draw.

The venue was pegged from the far western corner (peg #1) through to peg #14, which was situated adjacent to the boat ramp approximately around half way along the pond's northern shore. Due to the numbers of anglers competing, two equally sized sectors comprising of seven pegs each were fished. The wind was blowing strongly out of the east, so would be blowing directly into the faces of the anglers on pegs #1, #2 and #3, while the majority of the field would be confronted with a severe left - right (east - west) wind driven surface drift. Based on previous results (during last year's analogous match (see below), greater 'gill weights were captured from the higher numbered pegs, with the exception of peg #1 from which Libby also did very well with the smaller fish) I was looking for a number greater than '7' (i.e. anywhere in sector 'B'), or perhaps peg #1 or #2. Peg #2 is a known carp ‘hot spot’, although with water temps in the low 40's it didn't seem likely these fish would feed during the match. Thus, perhaps understandably, I was very pleased to see a tiny bobber marked '9' emerge from the cap's confines - the peg I'd drawn was situated on a small point and, as is discussed below, possessed some interesting underwater features that would most likely hold a few fish.

Setting the table

Upon arriving at the peg and plumbing up (finding the depth) I was delighted to find a small, ~ 4 inch, drop off at about 8 yards out from the shore. This seemed like an excellent fish holding feature and it was here, as well as a second spot a further 4 or so feet further out in to pond, where I concentrated my initial feed. The idea with feeding two (or more) spots is standard match fishers' trick – if bites start to taper off from either area the other would be fished for a while. In this way swims could be periodically rested in order to keep ones catch rate high. Given the conditions I modified my feed and rigs accordingly. Due to the cold ambient temps, as well as the strong wind cooling the water, I decided on a low feed groundbait (chum). Not as complicated as it sounds – I merely mixed up my usual light mix and ‘cut’ it in a 3:1 ratio with a sieved clay / soil mixture. The added soil and clay also made the groundbait denser which, in retrospect, proved essential in combating the heavy flow. In order to make the mix even more attractive, while remaining less filling, some vanilla flavoring and chopped worm were added to the groundbait and soil respectively before these two bulk ingredients were combined. During the baiting period, 4 balls were introduced over each line. My rigs were chosen so to combat the prevailing left to right flow. Since the bottom layer of water in any pond typically moves in the opposite direction to the prevailing wind driven surface drift I thought it important to keep the bait still, as any bait moving left – right in a bottom layer moving in the opposite direction would surely seem a little suspicious to a wary fish ?! Thus, the ‘Quad’ float chosen possessed a relatively heavy 0.5 g loading and a thin wire stem (both of these features increase stability), as well as a nylon tip (to increase sensitivity). The bait was initially fished just off bottom, with the bulk shot around 12 inches from the hook with two evenly spaced small dropper shot below that.

Keeping ‘em coming

The match started well for me – the fish were there and pretty easy to catch during the first couple of hours of competition. The trick of alternating between the two lines paid off well as I was able to keep up a decent catch rate throughout the first half of the match. Interestingly, bites often materialized as subtle lifts of the float (meaning the fish had taken the bait and swum upwards, often resulting in a tell tale hook set in the lower lip), so by shallowing up the rig by 4 or so inches I was able to provoke some more conventional ‘guzunders’ from the suspended fish. During the latter half of the match bites became more tentative when using a double maggot hookbait, the culprits being a smaller stamp of fish that seemed to be the most active feeders during this time. A switch to single maggot hookbait quickly solved this problem, although this proved something as a catch 22 as the wait between bites became longer - no doubt due to the fact that fish found a solitary maggot harder to spot than a 'double'. An interesting side bar is that I got by using the same rig with both single and double maggot hook baits. This was possible as I'd tied it using a size 18 hook, which sits between the ideal single (20) and double (16) maggot sizes. Fishing a double maggot on an 18 often results in the hook point being masked by one of the maggot's bodies - a tell tale sign when this happens is a 'bumped' fish on the strike (which happened periodically during the match), while the size 18 is a little too big for a single maggot in terms of matching bait and hook sizes. Ideally, I'd like to have switched my rig out for one possessing a size 20 hook during the second half of the competition, but Elise on peg #10 seemed to be matching me fish for fish so re-rigging didn't seem like an option during such a neck and neck battle!

Weighing in

My final weight of 'gills and a few shinners pulled the scales around to 11.7 lbs, which was top weight on the day. Elise on the next peg ran me close with a bag of 10.5 lbs, although things may have been a lot closer should Elise have not gone out for carp later in the competition. Why go for carp at all? Well, Robert Wolan on the section's end peg (#14) was quietly amassing a good weight of 'gills and, later in the competition, hooking into carp! Unfortunately, Robert only banked one of the three carp he hooked and finished second in the section with a final weight of 10.6 lb. Clearly, had Robert banked his carp the final standings would have been much different. In section 'A' Mike Arndt battled the harsh winds to put together a section winning bag of 9.8 lbs from peg #1 (which was also one of last year's most productive spots in this section) while Peter W and Derek A fished well from pegs #4 and #3 to come second and third in the section respectively with weights of 8.2 and 6.4 pounds. A full breakdown of the match results can be found at the CBA site.

Horizontal crease?!

In hindsight, the 'tricks' discussed above, which were initially figured out via good old trial and error during the actual competition, made total sense in terms of an analysis of the conditions and their resulting effects on the fishes feeding behavior. Considering the propensity for the fish to give lift bites first, a plausible explanation is that the previously wind cooled surface water that was being pushed over the bottom formed a frigid, flowing blanket covering the venue's deepest few inches of water. Thus, it then made sense that the fish would suspend in the still, 'warmer' water above this layer, only darting down to intercept food particles as they washed over the bottom before returning to their more favored station. If one thinks about it a little more, this situation (I'm guessing) can be considered to be a horizontal analogue of what many of us experience on rivers - on a river, fish generally hold just of the main flow in the (vertical in this case) 'crease' formed at the intersection of swift and moderate flows. In this way they can hold station in the slower water in between darts out into the current to intercept food particles. Second, with regard to the fact that only smaller fish were caught later in the match, this also makes sense as the pond's water was dropping in the temperature throughout the contest due to the cooling effects of the wind. Thus, as is often the case, larger fish tend to 'turn off' under such conditions, rendering smaller fish the most easily caught.


4/6/02: CBA match #1,  Barth Pond - decisions, decisions.

There was an air of excitement among the competitors as we waited for the draw at Barth's, there wasn't a cloud in the sky and the weather was reasonably warm - some fish were definitely going to end up in our nets today(!). It was also great to welcome some new and some old faces alike - Libby was fishing her first match with us today, while Tom Green and his traveling companion had traveled all the way from Cincinnati just to learn more about match fishing. Amazing! I hope you guys went away having learnt something interesting and new.

Around a dozen or so people fished the match, with 2 sections of between 5 and 6 pegs laid out from the far north west of the pond through to about half it's length along the northern shore. I drew peg 2, which was adjacent to the peg (number 1, drawn by Paul Wells) from which I'd had a large haul of carp two weeks previously. To my immediate left on peg three was young Jack Arndt, while new comer Libby was fishing beyond Paul on Peg 12 (due to the large turn out we were forced to squeeze in another peg at the end of the section).

In preparation for the match I'd come prepared to fish either for carp (if I selected what ended up as  Paul's peg (#1)) or for 'gills if I picked out any other peg. As it turned out, pegging was pretty tight and I was very close to the 'hole' where I knew the carp to be. Decisions, decisions - after a quick 'think' (which I later regretted!) I chose to disregard my 'gill only approach and fish two lines, one at around 30 meters for the carp and one at 3+ meters for the 'gills. Three types of groundbait were prepared - a sloppy cloud mix, a dry cloudmix and a dense sweet bottom mix. See the groundbait section for details on these mixes.
I introduced several balls of the bottom mix on my waggler/feeder line and two on my whip line during the baiting period. Several balls of cloudbait were also introduced to the whip line at this time. My rigs were pretty simple - a fine insert waggler for the whip, fished an inch off the bottom with the bulk of the shot set at half depth and a 4.5 gram 'puddlechucker' waggler set around 4 inches overdepth for the carp rig. Baits were spikes on the whip and corn on the waggler, with size 19 barbless to 2.2 lb line / 6 elastic and size 14 to 4.12 line respectively rounding out the set ups.

The match itself didn't go well for me, by splitting my efforts equally between the long and short swims I neither managed to catch a carp or secure enough gills for a decent section place. Hindsight (being 20/20, as it is) told me I should have gone for bust on either line, but that's matchfishing. Top finishers utilized a combined long pole and whip attack for gills, with bonus carp falling to the long pole. Peter Wolan fished brilliantly for a final winning weight of 23.8 pounds, made up of mostly gills with a few bonus carp plus a much prized goldfish thrown in. Penny S., Mike A., Derek A. and Robert W. all banked good weights, with new comer Libby putting in a stellar performance to finish second in our section from an unfancied peg - great job Libby! Check out the CBA site for details on the match, as well as a few more pictures. All in all a great days fishing, I know I for one am looking forward to the next event. See you there!


4/13/02:Marquette Park Bank Anglers match #1,  Barth Pond - loose rules, lots of fun!

I love MPBA matches - there are very few rules and the membership is a very enthusiastic, diverse and communicative bunch. Anglers may fish with up to two rods at one time and are free to employ essentially any piece of equipment, method or bait (aside from the use of treble hooks, which are not permitted) while competing. All these ingredients make for an exciting and productive match, as was proven during the club's season opener at Barth's pond on the 13th of April.

Most anglers had arrived at the pond by the allotted draw time of 9:00 am. The weather was looking good, the cold weather of the week before had passed through and a high of 68oF or so was predicted. It had also rained pretty hard the previous day and the water level was up - maybe the venue's fickle cats would be feeding this time? The slightly more shallow southern shore was pegged from the eastern corner of the pond west, with the last peg (#10) finishing up around 50 yards short of the venue's western boundary. After some pre-match banter and a good look at the water, the 'combatants' began to draw pegs at around 9:30 am. Tony Williams and John Wilkins pulled out pegs 1 and 2 respectively - these were the favored 'carp' swims near the inlet at the pond's east end - that deservedly put a smile on their faces! I drew out peg 4, not a bad swim for pan fish according to Oz, who'd fished there the previous week. Oz himself pulled out  peg 10, the last and furthest peg from the draw - he was in for some exercise(!)

I arrived at my swim and quickly began the task of setting up my rigs. Since the MPBA only allow an hour set up time and up to two rods are permitted this was a pretty frenetic process. In common with most other anglers I fished a bottom rig(s) further out for carp and/or cats and a pan fish line closer in. Specifically, I used a method feeder with either popped up (floating) or 'regular' (sinking) corn on a size 12 hook on the big fish rig, rounding out the set up with a carp rod, buzzer (bite indicator) and baitrunner type reel.  The method feeder was fished over a bed of corn, which was in turn introduced at around 30 - 35 meters with a catapult. Two pole lines were prepared, one at 11m and one at 3m. The long pole line was intended for carp - a Drennan carp two float fished on depth with a single grain of corn on a size 14 hook was coupled with 4 lb line. The short pole line (intended for pan fish) was fished to hand - a light Drennan pinkie float was used in connection with 2.2 lb line and a size 19 barbless hook. Bait was either single or double maggot, set to fall slowly through the water (on the drop fishing), ending up 1 inch off the bottom. The long pole line was fed with some dense bottom groundbait (standard mix with molasses and boiled hemp seed added, see above or the groundbait section for details on this and other mixes), while the close 'whip' line was fed more frequently with either dry cloudbait or loose fed maggots.

The match started well for me - the 15 minute baiting period permitted under MPBA rules had allowed time for the swim's resident 'gills and shinners to find my groundbait. I was catching almost a fish a throw on the 'whip' line and was able to keep my catch rate around the desired 60 fish per hour for a good fraction of the time. Regular feeding was the key here, with a dollop of cloudbait or a few spikes preceding every other put-in. Top tip here - feeding a nugget of cloudbait THEN casting out and drawing the float into the cloud would more often than not produce an immediate take - most often from a shinner (seemed as though they were actively feeding up in the water, more on this later). In contrast, 'gills would most often take the bait after it had reached it's maximum depth and then been 'twitched'. Try either of these tactics this next time you are out - they work wonders(!).

After putting a few small fish in the net I tried my luck on the long pole but, despite trying several times, was unable to temp a carp. Similarly, my method feeder rig produced only one take all day - a 6 oz bullhead! In hindsight it seemed obvious that my swim was populated by vast numbers of smaller fish (as Oz had indicated earlier at the draw). At the end of the day I weighed in a respectable 11.4 lb catch, but couldn't keep up with either John or Tony on the first two pegs. Both anglers fished well and put together first and second place weights of 19.8 lb and 15.6 lb respectively. Tony pulled what could only be described as a stroke of genius late in the match by tying on a trout fly - he' d noticed that the fish were starting to take insects from the surface and responded accordingly. Brilliant! This wrinkle sped things up dramatically for him (as he didn't have to rebait) and allowed him to pull in front of me by quite a margin. John also fished a good match, but in his case was able to extract a match winning bag of five carp, a goldfish and a few smaller fish using corn and spikes. Oz also put in a fine performance from an unfancied peg, putting together a solid 10.7 lbs - a weight that also included a highly prized goldfish. Since I was fishing as a guest, Oz picked up the 3rd place medal on the day. Every other angler caught fish, with most catching at least one bullhead - I guess that rain and the warm weather did bring them out(?!).

Match Photos, courtesy of Ozzy

Above:  The author's 11.4 lb catch of  'gills and shinners.

Above right: Tony Williams and Pat settle on a final weight.

Right: John Wilkins' match winning bag, along with catfish fanatic and son Cam.


In summary, the match proved to be a great day out for all involved - it was great to get to meet some new anglers, and I hope to run into the likes of Al, Robert, Cesar, Jose, Alfonso and Gerald at the next event. If you are interested in finding out more about the MPBA, contact Oz via the club website.