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Lake Information

County: Fulton

Acreage: 4000

Recreational Amenities

Boat Fishing? Electric only

Boat Ramps? Yes

Boat Rental? No

Skiing? No

Swimming? No

Camping? No

There are no zebra mussels in this lake.

Lake Status Summary  ( Full PDF Report )

Click here for a list of all reports.



Fish Status



In 2017 the bluegill population was sampled by electrofishing and mesh trap nets. The survey samples represent a bluegill population with good distribution from 2.0 to 9.4 inches long. Good recruitment has now occurred each of the last 8 years. The body condition was a good for the fish over 5 inches. The bluegill electro fishing collection rate decreased from 2012. 22% of the bluegill sampled by electrofishing gears were over 8 inches in length. All indices all indicate a quality bluegill population. Site Regulation: 25 fish daily limit; no length limit.


Very Good

The bowfin population was sampled in 2017. Several year classes appear to be present. The body condition of these fish was extremely good. The bowfin population has seen a steady increase in density and biomass in the sampling.



Of the channel catfish sampled in 2017, there is indication of another new year class recruited. A low density population of very robust fish are present up to 33.5 inches long. Site Regulation: 6 fish daily limit; no length limit.


Very Good

The black crappie population was sampled by electrofishing and trap nets in 2017. The black crappie sample appears to represent almost no YOY class from 2.4 to 8.0 inches long and multiple year clasess from 8.3 to 14.2 inches long. The body condition was still a good for the fish over 8 inches. For the first time since the brood stocking in 2007, 10 white crappie were sampled in 2012, 1 fish in 2013, 63 fish in 2014, 51 fish in 2015, 108 fish in 2016, and 41 fish in 2017. The 2017 white crappie sample was composed primarily of fish from 8.7 to 14.2 inches long. The body condition average was very good. This dense crappie population with large fish will feed on the gizzard shad population and also provide additional predation upon potential exotic fish species reproduction. Site Regulation: 25 fish daily limit; 9" minimum length limit.


Very Good

In 2017 the largemouth bass population was sampled by electrofishing and mesh trap nets. The largemouth bass population was defined by an average year of recruitment. This Young Of the Year class from 2.4 to 6.5 inches was in excellent body condition in the fall survey. The collection rate of bass under 8 inches was average. The average body condition for these fish was very good for fish under eight inches. The fall 2017 survey showed a high density bass population is now present from 8.7 to 22.0 inches. The percentage of fish greater than 17 inches increased from 18% to 27% in 2016, and in 2017, the percentage was at 31%. The average body condition of the fish over 8 inches was good. Site Regulation: 1 fish daily limit; 18" minimum length limit.



In 2017, the pumpkinseed population appear to represent YOY fish up to 3.5 inches in length and several year classes up to 8.7 inches in length. The body condition was very good. The pumpkinseed electrofishing collection rate was consistent with the collection range since 2011.

Location: The Nature Conservancy's Emiquon Preserve is adjacent to the Illinois River in Fulton County, Illinois, approximately 1 mile northwest of Havana and 3 miles southeast of Lewistown.

Description: Historically, what is now the Emiquon Preserve included two backwater lakes, Thompson Lake and Flag Lake, and was argued to have been one of the better hunting and fishing complexes in the Illinois River Valley if not the whole Midwest. From the early 1920s through the present, most of the property currently owned by the Conservancy was managed for agriculture, most recently primarily for intensive row-crop production. In 2007, the site pumps were shut off and the water level in the site was allowed to rise and reform the lakes. The current Thompson/Flag Lake covers approximately 4,000 surface acres. The lake topography is two large shallow basins with deep water ditches dissecting it. In midsummer, the lake basins can be 70% covered with aquatic vegetation.

History and Status of the Sport Fishery: In 2007, The Nature Conservancy entered into a cooperative fish management agreement with the Illinois Department of Natural Resources for the Emiquon Preserve. The water bodies on the site underwent an immediate fish rehabilitation project to remove exotic fish species. The IDNR initiated fish restocking in 2007 with brood fish that included: llargemouth bass, white crappie, black crappie, bluegill, bowfin, spotted gar, channel catfish, brown bullhead, warmouth, orangespotted sunfish, pumpkinseed sunfish, golden shiner, brook silverside, and blackstripe topminnow. IDNR fish stockings and surveys have resulted in the potential of at least 43 fish species now present in the lake.

Additional Lake Information: Public access to the water bodies on the Emiquon Preserve is limited to registered boats. Free annual registration to access the site for all users is required and available at the adjacent Dickson Mounds State Museum. Only electric trolling motors are allowed. No gas motors are allowed on the boats.

2 pole and line fishing only. A concrete boat ramp with a gravel parking lot for 25 vehicle/trailers is present and a boardwalk, visitor area and canoe launch.

The site contains an inviolate refuge from public access. This refuge will attempt to serve as a limited disturbance area for all of the wildlife utilizing the Preserve. This refuge encompasses approximately the eastern half of the former Thompson Lake basin, all of the former Flag Lake basin and then to the Illinois River levee. This refuge area is designated with marked buoys and signs. The access time to the water bodies is sunrise to sunset. This access is year round, except during the Central Zone waterfowl hunting season. During the Central Zone waterfowl hunting season, no water access is allowed on hunting days. Currently waterfowl is allowed 3 days a week, thereby allowing fishing access 4 days a week. Ice fishing is allowed when practical on the entire lake basin.

Site Regulations:

Largemouth Bass: 1 fish daily limit; 18" minimum length limit
Bluegill: 25 fish daily limit; no length limit
Channel Catfish: 6 fish daily limit; no length limit
Walleye, Sauger or Hybrid Walleye: 6 fish daily limit; 14" minimum length limit
White and Black Crappie: 25 fish daily limit; 9" minimum length limit

Contact Information:
The Nature Conservancy Site Office
IDNR Fisheries Biologist, Rob Hilsabeck