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Lake Information

County: Williamson

Acreage: 6965

Shoreline Length: 125 miles

Recreational Amenities

Boat Fishing? Unrestricted

Boat Ramps? Yes

Boat Rental? Yes

Skiing? Yes

Swimming? Yes

Picnicking? Yes

Camping? Yes

large map link Pump House Boat Club Refuge Headquarters West End

    Click on area names for a more detailed map.
    Pump House Neck, Refuge Headquarters, Boat Club,
    West End Boat Ramp

Maps are not intended for navigation.

There are no zebra mussels in this lake.

Fishing Outlook  ( Full PDF Report )

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Fish Status


Very Good

Although the quality of Crab Orchard bluegill decreased somewhat in 2016 compared to that of the previous year, the proportion of fish over 6 inches in length met or exceeded the management goal for the thirteenth year in a row, and bluegill body condition remained excellent, indicating another good forecast for bluegill anglers. The proportion of bluegill larger than six inches was 44%, and the component over seven inches was 12%.



Crab Orchard channel catfish quality and body condition, similar to previous years, were excellent, and 77% of the fish collected were larger than 22 inches in length.


Very Good

The percentage of white crappie larger than 8 inches remained relatively high in 2016 at 78%, while 38% of black crappie were larger than this size. Similarly, the percentage of white crappie larger than ten inches in length was very good at 44, while no black crappie in the sample achieved that size. Body condition of black crappie was within the goal range, while white crappie condition was slightly less than that mark.



The bass fishing forecast for Crab Orchard Lake is good, but somewhat less impressive than one year ago. The proportion of largemouth bass larger than the 16-inch minimum size limit had been more than 20% since 2004, but the fall 2016 survey produced a sample in which 16% were larger than 16 inches. Of these, 6% were also larger than 18 inches, another indicator of a slight decrease in quality. Largemouth bass abundance in the 2016 sample increased slightly compared to the previous year, and the general management plan goal was easily met. Body condition of largemouth bass in Crab Orchard Lake has remained excellent. General good condition of the Crab Orchard Lake bass population in recent years can be at least partially attributed to a combination of more stringent harvest regulations, increased bass fingerling and threadfin shad stocking, habitat enhancement (through fish attractor installation and vegetation planting), and establishment of a spawning refuge area with artificial spawning substrates. The Crab Orchard National Wildlife Refuge is also limiting each bass club to one fish-off event per year to reduce angling pressure and angler conflicts. Site Regulation: 16 inch minimum length limit, 3 per day creel limit.


Very Good

Numbers of Crab Orchard white bass collected during the fall 2016 survey represented the second highest in eleven years, and the proportion over 9 inches (89%) was impressive. Fish in the sample ranged in size from 6 to 15 inches, and 76% were larger than 10 inches, while 27% exceeded 12 inches. White bass body condition decreased somewhat compared to the previous year, and did not meet the management plan goal.

Fishing Report

There is no fishing report for this week. View recent reports.

Location: Crab Orchard Lake is a 6965-acre impoundment located in the Crab Orchard National Wildlife Refuge between Marion and Carbondale in Williamson County Illinois.

Description: The Crab Orchard Lake fishery is cooperatively managed by the Illinois Department of Natural Resources and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. A user permit is required to access the Crab Orchard National Wildlife Refuge. Information can be obtained by calling the refuge visitor center at 618-997-3344.

Additional Lake Information: A user permit is required to access the Crab Orchard National Wildlife Refuge. Information can be obtained by calling the refuge visitor center at 618-997-3344.

Largemouth bass have a 16-inch minimum length limit and a 3-per-day creel limit. No other size or creel limits are in effect.

Fish Attractors:

Contact Information:
Crab Orchard National Wildlife Refuge:
IDNR Fisheries Biologist, Luke Nelson

There were 35 tournaments held on this waterbody in 2018.

Species Total Fish Caught
Crappie 70
Largemouth Bass 857

Top 5 Largemouth Bass caught on this waterbody in 2018 tournaments:

1     11.71 lbs
2     8.15 lbs
3     6.94 lbs
4     6.62 lbs
5     6.38 lbs

Top 5 Bag Weights of Largemouth Bass caught on this waterbody in 2018 tournaments:

1 597.63 lbs
2 415.00 lbs
3 215.19 lbs
4 138.06 lbs
5 115.88 lbs

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

2019 Approved or Pending Tournaments
Start Date ID Approval Ramp Location Bank/Boat
Max Boats Species Youth? Open to Public?
October-2713500ApprovedOld State Rt. 13 boat
15Largemouth Bass
Smallmouth Bass
Spotted Bass