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Lake Information

County: Marion

Acreage: 542

Average Depth: 15.16 feet

Shoreline Length: 22.2 miles

Recreational Amenities

Boat Fishing? Unrestricted

Boat Ramps? Yes

Boat Rental? Yes

Skiing? Yes

Swimming? Yes

Picnicking? Yes

Camping? Yes

  Trout stocked in fall

  Trout stocked in spring

larger map link Mountain Phillips Dam

    Click on area names for a more detailed map.
    Dam, Mountain, Phillips

Maps are not intended for navigation.

There are no zebra mussels in this lake.

Lake Status Summary  ( Full PDF Report )

Click here for a list of all reports.



Fish Status



The size structure of the bluegill population declined, and remains poor. Body condition was much higher for smaller fish than larger fish. The fishery continues to be comprised almost entirely of fish less than 7” in length. Currently less than 1% of the population exceeds 7”. If the size structure of the bass population continues to improve, it should help to improve the size structure of the bluegill population as well.



Catfish remain abundant in Forbes Lake and should provide good fishing opportunities in the coming year. Condition remains excellent and growth rates are above average. Most fish will range from 1 – 4 pounds with larger fish exceeding 6 pounds common. This lake provides excellent bank fishing opportunities. Drift fishing the main lake is also very productive. Site Regulation: 6 fish daily limit, no length limit.



This year’s survey produced four year classes of hybrids and a record catch rate. They ranged in size from 8” – 24” in length with most of the larger fish in the 2 - 12 pound range. In spite of the promising survey results, the population will decline in coming years as hybrid striped bass production and stocking have been discontinued statewide. Site Regulation: Striped, White, Hybrid Striped Bass: 3 fish daily limit; 17" minimum length limit.


Very Good

To improve the growth rates and condition of the smaller stunted bass and increase the numbers of larger bass, a 14” – 18” protected slot limit was placed in effect on April 1, 2015. Over the past year, the number of bass below the slot has increased by 16%, and the percentage of the population exceeding 14” decreased by 37%. The changes in these indices were due to a very large year class of 12”-14” bass. This large year class was also responsible for the 96% increase in cath rates. In spite of the increase in numbers of bass less than 14”, condition for these fish remained excellent. This is a big change from pre-regulation data when condition of these smaller fish was poor. If this large year class continues to grow as expected, the size structure of the population should improve significantly in the coming year. For 2017, anglers can expect the bass under 14” to weigh up to 1.4 lbs. and bass over 18” to range from 3.6 – 6 lbs. with a few larger fish up to 7 lbs. Site Regulation: 6 fish daily limit; 14" – 18" protected slot limit.

SAUGEYE (Walleye/Sauger Hybrid)


Four year classes were collected in this year’s survey, and the catch rate was well above average. The current population ranges from 14” – 25” in length, with many of the larger fish in the 3 – 6 lbs. range.



The size structure of the white crappie population declined for the second consecutive year. The percentage of the population exceeding 10” in length fell to 10% (a 33% decline). Condition remained below target and growth rates below average. Anglers can expect most fish in the coming year to range from 7” – 10” in length with a few larger fish to 14”.

Location: Forbes Lake is located in Marion County, approximately 13 miles northeast of Salem Illinois.

Description: Forbes Lake was constructed in Stephen A. Forbes State Park near Salem in 1963. The Lake has a surface area of 585 acres, a maximum depth of 31 feet, and a mean depth of 12 feet. The lake has 18 miles of shoreline and a watershed of 13,800 acres.

History and Status of the Sport Fishery: The sport fish population in Forbes Lake is comprised primarily of largemouth bass, bluegill, redear sunfish, white crappie, and channel catfish, and is stocked annually with saugeye (walleye/sauger hybrid). The lake also contains a strong population of yellow bullheads and large common carp (20+ lbs). The fish population is surveyed annually.

Additional Lake Information: Two pole and line fishing only.

Site Regulations:
Largemouth Bass: 6 fish daily limit; 14" – 18" protected slot limit
Striped, White, Hybrid Striped Bass: 3 fish daily limit; 17" minimum length limit
Channel Catfish: 6 fish daily limit, no length limit.

Contact Information:
Stephen A. Forbes State Park
IDNR Fisheries Biologist:

There were 54 tournaments held on this waterbody in 2017.

Species Total Fish Caught
Largemouth Bass 1449

Top 5 Largemouth Bass caught on this
waterbody in 2017 tournaments:

1     6.95 lbs
2     6.85 lbs
3     6.62 lbs
4     6.55 lbs
5     6.40 lbs

Interested in participating in one of these public tournaments? Contact us with tournament ID for more information.

2018 Approved or Pending Tournaments
Start Date End Date
(if different from start)
ID Approval Ramp Location Bank/Boat
Max Boats Species Open to Public?
November-1010594ApprovedEast Launch boat
10Largemouth Bass