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Lake Information

County: Clinton

Acreage: 24580

Shoreline Length: 80 miles

Recreational Amenities

Boat Fishing? Unrestricted

Boat Ramps? Yes

Boat Rental? Yes

Skiing? Yes

Swimming? Yes

Picnicking? Yes

Camping? Yes

Coles Creek Access Boulder Creek South Shore State Park Carlyle Dam West Tamalco Patoka Access Allen Branch Keyesport

    Click on area names for a more detailed map.
    Allen Branch, Boulder Creek, Coles Creek, Dam West,
    Keyesport, Patoka Access, South Shore, Tamalco Access

Click on map for expanded view

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



Blue catfish were stocked for the first time in 2021. These fish should grow well and add an additional trophy fish to the existing catfish fishery.



The Bluegill population at Carlyle remains fair. Catch rates during the 2022 survey were down with 97 fish collected per hour of electrofishing compared to 138 fish per hour in 2021. Twenty-eight percent of the stock-sized (mature) Bluegill collected were over 6 inches, but very few were over 7 inches. These medium-sized fish should provide decent angling opportunities in the upcoming year. Bluegill fishing should be fair in Carlyle Lake in 2023.



The Channel Catfish population is very consistent in Carlyle Lake. We collected 11 Channel Catfish per hour which is very similar to the numbers collected in the past 10 years of surveys. Lengths ranged from 18 – 31 inches and weights ranged from 2 – 9 pounds. There is still an abundance of large fish in the population that should provide angling opportunities for quality-sized fish. Catfish fishing should be good in Carlyle Lake in 2023.


Very Good

2023 Carlyle Lake spring crappie netting showed that the crappie still look great at Carlyle Lake. Plenty of fish over 10 inches were collected and should continue to provide great fishing. The future also looks promising as another good year class of smaller fish coming up was observed. A total of 414 crappie were collected. The average catch was 29.6 fish per net-night. White Crappie were 82% of the total catch and Black Crappie were 18%. 60% of the White Crappie and 22% of the Black Crappie were over the 10-inch minimum length limit regulation for Carlyle Lake. The largest White Crappie measured 14.2 inches and the largest Black Crappie was 13.1 inches. Crappie fishing should be very good in 2023 for both quality sized and smaller fish. Site Regulation: 10 inch minimum length limit/15 fish per day creel limit


Very Good

A good population of flathead catfish is present in the lake.



We collected 27 Largemouth Bass per hour during our 2022 electrofishing survey, which is up from 22 per hour collected in our 2021 survey. Half of the stock-sized (mature) fish collected were longer than the minimum length limit of 14 inches, and 33 percent were over 15 inches. Three percent were over 18 inches. The largest bass was 20.5 inches and weighed 6.1 pounds. Young-of-the-year fish were also collected indicating some spawning occurred in 2022. Fish of all sizes were in excellent body condition indicating an abundant forage base (primarily Gizzard Shad) and good growth. Angling opportunities for Largemouth Bass during 2023 should be good. Site Regulation: 14 inch minimum length limit/6 fish per day creel limit.



The Dept. of Natural Resources is stocking redear sunfish. Redear sunfish feed heavily upon snails and tend to stay closer to the bottom than bluegill. They are large sunfish, often averaging one half to one pound in weight.



The sauger in the lake appear to be growing well and should provide a good fishing opportunity.



White Bass remain abundant and exhibit a good population structure. The catch rate during our 2022 survey was 59 White Bass per hour which is up substantially from 28 per hour collected in 2021. Multiple year classes were collected including young of the year fish, indicating a successful spawning effort. There are plenty of quality sized fish in the population. Fifty-five percent of the stock sized (mature) fish collected were over 12 inches; 29 percent were over 13 inches; and 12 percent were over 14 inches. Thirteen-inch fish weighed 1.1 pounds on average, and 14-inch fish weighed 1.4 pounds. Expect White Bass fishing to be very good in 2023. Site Regulation: No creel limit if under 17 inches; 3 fish per day combined creel limit of White Bass, Striped Bass, Yellow Bass, and their hybrids if 17 inches or longer.

Location: Carlyle Lake is located in southwestern Illinois, 50 miles east of St. Louis, principally in Clinton County, with Carlyle being the largest city bordering the water.

Description: Carlyle Lake was completed by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in 1967 and was formed by damming the Kaskaskia River, the same stream that is the main tributary to Lake Shelbyville, upstream to the north. This lake has a maximum depth 35 feet and an average depth 11 feet.

If you enjoy catching catfish, mammoth Carlyle Lake, the largest man-made lake in the state, could be your Utopia. The 24,580-acre lake very well might be the finest channel cat fishery in Illinois, and they are eagerly sought by pole-and-line fishermen and trotliners alike. Virtually rectangular shaped, the lake is about 15 miles long and two to three miles wide. It is shallow, averaging about 11 feet in depth, and lies in flat, gently rolling country. Carlyle Lake is a typically open body of water and can soon kick up high, dangerous waves when strong winds occur. The lake is divided by the Burlington Northern Railroad tracks, which span the water from the towns of Keysport to Boulder. The upper portion is quite shallow, averaging about three feet deep, and consists mostly flooded timber and brush which was left standing when the lake filled. Besides the main Kaskaskia River Tributary, this area of the lake has a number of smaller creeks feeding it: Hurricane, Bear, Maggot, East Fork and North Fork. These streams offer excellent fishing opportunities. There are two public access areas for easy entry to this portion of the lake: Tamalco on the west and Patoka on the east. Below the railroad tracks, the lower two-thirds of the lake is quite open except for some timber left standing in three of the major bays.

History and Status of the Sport Fishery: Carlyle Lake is home to many different species of fish. The primary sport fish include: largemouth bass, bluegill, redear sunfish, crappie, white bass, sauger, channel catfish, and flathead catfish. Carlyle Lake provides good fishing for most of these species. The populations of some of the primary sport fish tend to cycle year to year. Currently the lake supports excellent populations of crappie, catfish, and white bass. Fish population surveys are conducted annually.

Christmas trees are placed regularly for habitat improvement.

Additional Lake Information: There is no outboard motor size limit. Eleven boat ramps are located at various recreational areas around the lake. In addition, there are three boat ramps on the Kaskaskia River, one just above and two below the reservoir. Carlyle Lake offers several camping facilities as well as cottages. There are two bait shops located in town and three full-service marinas.

Site Regulations:
Largemouth or smallmouth bass: 14" minimum length limit, 6 fish daily limit
Crappie (black, white, or hybrid): 10” minimum length limit, 15 fish daily limit
Sauger, walleye, or hybrid, 14” minimum length limit, 6 fish daily limit

Contact Information:
IDNR Fisheries Biologist, Eric Ratcliff

There were 12 tournaments held on this waterbody in 2020.

Species Total Fish Caught
Blue Catfish 10
Channel Catfish 23
Crappie 283
Flathead Catfish 39
Largemouth Bass 167

Top 5 Largemouth Bass caught on this waterbody in 2020 tournaments:

1     5.81 lbs
2     5.50 lbs
3     5.25 lbs
4     4.94 lbs
5     4.94 lbs

Top 5 Bag Weights of Largemouth Bass caught on this waterbody in 2020 tournaments:

1 75.94 lbs
2 62.00 lbs
3 55.50 lbs
4 44.50 lbs
5 40.94 lbs

Multiple day tournaments are listed with *end date and

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

2020-2021 Approved or Pending Tournaments
Start Date ID Approval Ramp Location Bank/Boat
Max Boats Species Youth? Open to Public?
April-1426066ApprovedEldon Hazlet SRA Allen Branch boat
May-0525379ApprovedKeyesport boat
25Largemouth Bass
26819ApprovedVisitor Center boat
78Hybrid Striped Bass
Largemouth Bass
Smallmouth Bass
May-1825381ApprovedKeyesport boat
25Largemouth Bass
June-0125386ApprovedKeyesport boat
25Largemouth Bass
June-1525390ApprovedKeyesport boat
25Largemouth Bass
August-1026328ApprovedEldon Hazlet SRA Allen Branch boat
35Largemouth Bass
August-1826566ApprovedEldon Hazlet SRA Allen Branch boat
15Largemouth Bass
September-1525772ApprovedEldon Hazlet SRA Allen Branch boat
15Largemouth Bass
October-0625395ApprovedKeyesport boat
25Largemouth Bass