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Lake Information

County: Cass

Acreage: 210

Average Depth: 59.05 feet

Recreational Amenities

Boat Fishing? Unrestricted

Boat Ramps? Yes

Boat Rental? No

Skiing? No

Swimming? No

Picnicking? Yes

Camping? Yes

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Maps are not intended for navigation.

There are no zebra mussels in this lake.

Lake Status Summary  ( Full PDF Report )

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Fish Status



Black crappie were not stocked by the IDNR, but have appeared in yearly surveys for more than 10 years. A good population of 12-14" crappie is present, but any real numbers can be difficult to come by. However, new technology is making it easier. Anglers can catch crappie in the spring and fall on submerged structures and stickups with spinners, jigs and minnows.


Very Good

The original management plan for Prairie Lake was to provide a trophy panfishery, but the bluegill populations did not progress as planned. Within the last 5 years, however, Bluegill fishing has improved. This is primarily due to an abundance of smaller bass that are keeping the bluegill checked down. Good numbers of 8-9" fish can now be caught year round.



The channel catfish population is excellent both in quantity and quality. Many 2–8 lb fish are collected in surveys every year. Channel catfish are stocked into Prairie Lake on a biennial basis to supplement the population. Anglers can catch channel catfish around brushy areas, coves, and along the shoreline in the warmer months of the year using bottom fishing techniques with cut bait, shrimp, chicken livers or night crawlers. Site Regulation: 6 fish daily limit.



The largemouth bass population has struggled in recent years, with the majority of the population being under the 15" limit. Survey catch rates have increased annually over the last 7 years, indicating an overabundance. This lake can be difficult to fish due to its maximum depth of 45’, steep sides, and abundant vegetation and woody cover. Anglers can catch largemouth bass during the warmer months of the year around beds of aquatic vegetation, points, and deadfalls with plastic worms, jigs, spinners, crank baits, minnows, crayfish and worms. Site Regulation: 15" minimum length limit, 3 fish daily limit.


Very Good

Muskie continue to be a popular target at Prairie Lake. The body condition of sampled fish remains excellent. The largest fish in the 2024 survey measured 46" long, and weighed 34.5 lbs. Biennial muskie stocking will continue on odd years. Anglers can catch muskie in the spring and fall around beds of aquatic vegetation using minnows, spinners, spoons, jigs, jerk and crank baits. Targeting Muskie here can be difficult, as it is managed for better quality fish as opposed to higher catch rates. 48" minimum length limit, 1 fish daily limit.



Redear sunfish populations in Prairie Lake are improving, but still maintain lower than desired catch rates.

Location: Prairie Lake is located at the Jim Edgar Panther Creek State and Fish and Wildlife Area, 8 miles north of Ashland and 40 miles northwest of Springfield.

Description: In the early 1990s, the Department of Natural Resources purchased 15,575 acres of ground from Commonwealth Edison. Ten old farm ponds on the site were rehabilitated and restocked, and three new larger lakes were constructed. Gridley Lake was completed and stocked in 1997, followed by Prairie and Drake lakes in 1999 and 2002, respectively. Prairie Lake is the largest lake, spanning 210 acres. It has a maximum depth of 45' and an average depth of 18'. It is steep sided, has extensive beds of aquatic vegetation and woody cover, and is very clear with visibilities of 10-14'.

History and Status of the Sport Fishery: For information on the other bodies of water in the Jim Edgar Panther Creek State Fish Wildlife Area:

Gridley Lake


Gurney Road Pond

Additional Lake Information: 2 pole and line fishing only. Prairie Lake has unlimited horsepower with a no-wake zone for the entire lake. Sail boats are allowed.

Site Regulations:
Largemouth bass: 15" minimum length limit, 3 fish daily limit
Muskie: 48" minimum length limit, 1 fish daily limit
Channel catfish: 6 fish daily limit

Contact Information:
Site Office
IDNR Fisheries Biologist, Tad Locher

There were 20 tournaments held on this waterbody in 2020.

Species Total Fish Caught
Largemouth Bass 150
Muskellunge 2

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

1     6.40 lbs
2     5.65 lbs
3     5.56 lbs
4     5.56 lbs
5     5.56 lbs

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

1 68.38 lbs
2 42.43 lbs
3 29.77 lbs
4 28.25 lbs
5 26.40 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?
July-2725062ApprovedPrairie Lake Ramp (off Rt 11) boat
10Largemouth Bass
July-2825066ApprovedPrairie Lake Ramp (off Rt 11) boat
10Largemouth Bass
25343ApprovedPrairie Lake Ramp (off Rt 11) boat