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Lake Information

County: Shelby

Acreage: 11100

Average Depth: 18.9 feet

Shoreline Length: 120 miles

Recreational Amenities

Boat Fishing? Unrestricted

Boat Ramps? Yes

Boat Rental? Yes

Skiing? Yes

Swimming? Yes

Picnicking? Yes

Camping? Yes

Wilborn Creek Coal Shaft Bridge Whitley Creek Eagle Creek Wolf Creek Lone Point Coon Creek Oppossum Creek Lithia Springs Shelbyville Dam

    Click on area names for a more detailed map.
    Coal Shaft Bridge, Coon Creek, Eagle Creek,
    Kaskaskia River Access, Lithia Springs, Lone Point,
    Oppossum Creek, Shelbyville Dam, Whitley Creek,
    Wilborn Creek, Wolf Creek

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



A fishery for jumbo bigmouth buffalo (up to 20+ lbs.) is getting more attention. Despite being primarily planktivores, these abundant and large fish can be targeted along drop-offs with jigging spoons and put up a great battle when hooked. Some guides occasionally book trips for buffalo. Although bony, they too can be scored and fried (smaller fish), canned, or smoked and have a milder flavor compared to carp.



Despite the positive effects of floods on the growth rates and body condition of other species, the bluegill population has been relatively unaffected. Although catch rates are good, the size structure of the bluegill population is poor with a very low percentage of bluegill exceeding 7 inches. A few bluegill near the 8-inch range were collected in 2016. Fishing prospects for bluegill and other smaller sunfish species (green sunfish and longear sunfish) on Lake Shelbyville is expected to remain poor-fair in 2018.



Common carp are abundant, and reach lengths of 25+ inches and 8+ lbs. They are a common target of bow fishermen. When common carp are canned, they are said to make a good substitute for canned salmon. They are very good when smoked as well and smaller fish can be scored and fried.



Only three (5) channel catfish were collected in the 2017 fall survey with the largest being 29+ inches and 8.4 lbs. Catfish recruitment in Lake Shelbyville and the Kaskaskia River above the lake has been relatively poor in recent years. Moderate catches of larger fish are reported by anglers, especially on trot lines. Fishing prospects for channel and flathead catfish on the lake in 2018 are poor to fair for the number of fish available and fair to good for size structure. Fishing prospects for catfish below the spillway are somewhat better, especially for flatheads.



Forage conditions were ideal in 2017, and most crappie appeared to have been able to capitalize on this opportunity, as evidence by outstanding body condition observed. The number of crappie available to anglers, longer than 10 inches, should improve significantly through 2018. Fall and winter fishing reports in 2017 have been very outstanding. Body condition was good for white crappie, indicating the potential for continued good growth and recruitment. The majority of white crappie available in spring 2018 will be from 9.0 – 12.9 inches (avg. 10.9”), with the abundance of 13 and 14-inch fish improved. The majority of black crappie available in spring will be from 9 – 10+ inches (avg. 10.6”), with fish to 12 inches present. These fish will have an average weigh of approximately 0.65 lbs. Anglers have reported catching white crappie up to 15 inches and black crappie up to 12 inches. The fishing prospects for crappie are expected to be excellent for both the number of fish available and size structure in 2018. Anglers are encouraged to keep their limit of five (5) crappie less than 10 inches, especially the more abundant black crappie. Thinning the number of smaller fish, especially those less than 9.5 inches”, will help improve growth and recruitment to larger sizes.



Only six (6) flathead catfish were collected, with the largest being 33+ inches and 17 lbs. Catfish recruitment in Lake Shelbyville and the Kaskaskia River above the lake has been relatively poor in recent years. Moderate catches of larger fish are reported by fishermen, especially on trot lines. Fishing prospects for channel and flathead catfish on the lake in 2018 are poor to fair for the number of fish available and fair to good for size structure. Fishing prospects for catfish below the spillway are somewhat better, especially for flatheads.



Freshwater drum are abundant from 0.5 to 3 lbs. They are occasionally used to make “Poor-man’s shrimp” when filleted, sliced vertically, and quickly boiled with a small amount of sugar added to the water.



Despite good natural reproduction and recruitment in most recent years, the recruitment of bass, age-3+ (14-15”+) to larger sizes, has been much lower than expected, with the reason likely due to largemouth bass virus. The 2017 year class was very well represented with 426 young bass collected during the 2017 standarized fall survey, ranging in size from 2 to 8 inches. This is a much higher catch rate than in 2016. The collection rate of bass, age 1+ and older, collected in the 2017 fall fish population survey was much lower than the number and rate collected from the 2016, 2015, and 2014 surveys, due in large part to poor recruitment of the 2016 year class. Despite these results, anglers reported some improvement in their catch. Recruitment of the 2016 and 2015 year classes were fair and good, respectively. The size structure indices for fish longer than 16 inches were higher than 2016 as well. The largest bass collected during the 2016 fall survey was 20 inches and weighed 5 lbs. The body condition for adult largemouth bass similar to 2016, indicating good forage density and possibly improved growth. From survey data, the average legal-size bass is expected to be 16” and weigh about 2.4 lbs. in spring 2018. For these reasons, the largemouth bass fishing prospects for 2018 are projected to be good for the number of fish available and fair for size structure of the population with potential again for moderate improvement.



No musky were collected in the 2017 standard fall fish population or stocking success surveys. Despite recent increases in the number of muskie stocked, there has a steady decline in the catch rate in fish population surveys on Lake Shelbyville. Although angler catch rates for muskie have been consistent below the spillway, catch rates on the lake were poor in 2012 through 2017. For unknown reasons, fishing prospects for muskie in 2018 are expected to remain poor on the lake for the number of fish available and size structure, but still good to excellent for size and number below the spillway.


Very Good

Previous introductory stockings of sauger, from 2006 through 2010, have contributed significantly to the fishery in past years. In addition, many sauger were reported caught in the Kaskaskia River, both above and below, the lake in early to mid-spring. In 2014, an additional 256,000+ sauger were produced in the Fins & Feathers Nursery Pond and stocked into the lake which has contributed significantly to the fishery in the past two years. An additional 157,000+ fingerlings were stocked in 2017 from IDNR hatcheries. During the 2017 standard fall survey, only 16 sauger were collected, ranging from 7 to 19 inches. In the 2017 stocking success survey, sauger were collected at the rate of 5 fish per hour of effort and ranged from 9 to 20+ inches. Most were age-4+ fish from those stocked in 2014, but a few of the sauger stocked in 2017 were collected. The largest sauger collected in either survey was 20 inches and weighed 2.7 lbs. In 2017, the average “legal-size” sauger is expected to be 18”+ and weigh about 1.7 lbs. The fishing prospects for sauger in the lake should be good for the number of fish available and excellent for size structure in 2018. Fishing prospects in the river below the spillway should be good for both number and size structure on 2018.



Recent attempts to establish a self-sustaining population of smallmouth bass in Lake Shelbyville from the Kaskaskia River population have not produced expected results. Although anglers are catching a few of the stocked smallmouth bass, there has been no indication of natural recruitment. Fishing prospects for smallmouth bass are poor due to low stocking rates and a lack of natural recruitment. Anglers are encouraged to release any smallmouth bass caught immediately to improve the survival of these valuable stocked fish.



The collection rate of walleye varied highly among surveys, but several very large fish were collected in 2017 and two strong year classes appear to be developing (2016 and 2017). Two eight pound and one nine pound walleye were collected in fall surveys. All three fish measured 27 inches. Although the 2016 year class was not well represented in the standardized fall and stocking success surveys, fishermen catch rates were good in spring, summer, and late fall in 2017. A much higher number of walleye (n =97) were collected in the standard fall survey as compared to 2016 (10). This is well above the average collected (x = 49) in the four previous years, 2015 (n = 66), 2014 (n = 76), and 2013 (n = 44). The walleye collected in the standard fall survey ranged from 6 to 27+ inches, with the largest weighing 8.4 lbs. As with most species the body condition of walleye improved in 2017 (relative weight, “Wr” ~ 86). Body condition had been consistently 83 over the previous seven years. One stocking success survey was completed in October with walleye collected at the rate of 18 fish/hr. This compares to catch rates during the 2016 (15/hr.), 2015 (14/hr.), 2014 (26/hr.). The walleye collected in the 2016 stocking success survey ranged from 9 to 27 inches, with the largest weighing 9.1 lbs. From survey data, the average “legal-size” walleye is expected to be 22” and weigh about 4.4 pounds in 2018. There may be more 14 and 15” fish in the catch than survey data indicates. The walleye fishing prospects for Lake Shelbyville and the Kaskaskia River (above the lake) are rated as good - excellent for the number of fish available and good - excellent size structure in 2018! Fishing prospects below the spillway for walleye are expected to be good for the number of fish available and excellent for size structure in 2018. This should be another good year for catching a huge walleye (26”+) in Lake Shelbyville.



The white bass population on Lake Shelbyville appears to be rebounding and stabilizing since the population crash in 2012-’13. Body condition was slightly improved over past years, with a WR value of 88. The total catch of white bass in the 2017 fall fish population survey was significantly higher (n=236) compared to 74 in 2016 and 166 in 2015. Size structure was much improve, with prospects for the average size fish, 10” and larger, being 12.5” and 0.85 lbs. in 2018. Fishing reports were much improved for white bass in 2017. The fishing prospects for white bass are expected to be improved over 2017 and are rated excellent for the number of fish available and excellent for size structure in 2018.



Yellow bass are very abundant, but rarely get longer than 9 inches. There are very good to eat and despite the small size. some anglers keep as many as possible for this reason.

Detailed fishing report   

Fishing Report






FAIR: Some limits are being caught in 6 to 9 feet of water with minnows. Starting to catch some fish as they become active as temperatures cool.



FAIR: A couple here and there; Fish are eating shad in shallow water levels.



FAIR: Look along the edges in shallow levels; fish are feeding on the shad in the lake.



FAIR: Fish are being caught with a 2 jig rig in shallow levels.

Location: Lake Shelbyville is located in Shelby and Moultrie Counties in east-central Illinois, with the dam situated on the Kaskaskia River, east of the City of Shelbyville, Illinois.

Description: This lake has a surface area of 11,100 acres, with a maximum depth of 67 feet, and an average depth of 18.9 feet. Numerous public boat launching facilities are available, with a fee assessed on U.S. Army Corps of Engineers developed access area boat ramps, and free access on state park or Corps gravel boat ramps. All tournaments must be scheduled through the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

History and Status of the Sport Fishery: The fish population in Lake Shelbyville is surveyed annually. Lake Shelbyville is home to at least 32 species of fish. In addition to the lake, a popular fishery exists in the Kaskaskia River just below the spillway and in the West Okaw and Kaskaskia Rivers upstream of the lake. In cooperation between the USACE and the IDNR, two nursery ponds, 6.5 and 0.7 acres, are utilized to improve fishing quality in Lake Shelbyville.

An annual fish attractor project is coordinated by the USACE in coordination with the Illinois Department of Natural Resources (IDNR) in mid-March. Fish attractor maps can be found here:

Additional Lake Information: See the Illinois Fishing Information guide for a complete list of regulations for Lake Shelbyville and other USACE and IDNR project ponds and lakes. Regulation signs are posted at all boat ramps and major access points. All fishing tournaments on USACE ramps require a permit from the USACE office.

Contact Information:
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers
Mike Mounce, IDNR County Fisheries Biologist

There were 82 tournaments held on this waterbody in 2017.

Species Total Fish Caught
Bluegill 25
Channel Catfish 2
Common Carp 120
Crappie 1476
Freshwater Drum 1
Largemouth Bass 2671
Sauger 1
Walleye/Sauger Hybrid 1
White Bass 6

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

1     6.88 lbs
2     6.54 lbs
3     6.49 lbs
4     6.41 lbs
5     6.36 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?
October-27October-288015ApprovedEagle Creek State Park boat
30Largemouth Bass
November-118070ApprovedEagle Creek State Park boat
November-258071ApprovedWilborn Creek Rec. Area boat