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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

Maps are not intended for navigation.

There are no zebra mussels in this lake.

Fishing Outlook  ( Full PDF Report )

Click here for a list of all reports.



Fish Status



The Bluegill population at Carlyle remains in poor condition with very few fish over 7 inches. Catch rates remain high, however the majority of these were small fish. The condition of the fish was good.


Very Good

The channel catfish population remains good in Carlyle Lake. Catches of channel catfish in the fall population survey were down from the 5-year high observed in 2014, but should still provide good angling opportunities. There is still an abundance of large fish in the population that should provide good angling opportunities. Catfish fishing should be good in Carlyle Lake in 2019.


Very Good

The crappie population in Carlyle Lake remains in excellent condition. The numbers of white crappie were up a little and the numbers of black crappie were down a little in this survey. The populations have a high percentage of larger fish with most over 9 inches and many over 10 inches. The condition of the fish collected was good.


Very Good

Flathead catfish are abundant and exhibit good reproduction and growth. 37 flathead catfish were collected in this survey. They ranged from 9-30 inches. A good population of flathead catfish is present in the lake.



Overall catch rates for largemouth bass were consistent with previous surveys. The size distribution and condition of the bass collected looks good.



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 growing well and should provide a good fishing opportunity. Sauger collected in this survey ranged from 6-9 inches.



White bass remain very abundant and exhibit a good population structure. White bass numbers were very similar to the previous survey in this year’s survey. The size distribution was good with most fish over 12 inches. The condition was better with an average.

Location: Carlyle Lake is located in southwestern Illinois, 50 miles east of St. Louis, principally in Clinton County.

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: Fish population surveys are conducted annually. Fish stocked annually include sauger, largemouth bass, and redear sunfish.

Over 1000 Christmas trees were place in March of 2017 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 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
Crappie (black, white, or hybrid): 10” minimum length limit, 15 fish daily limit

Contact Information:
IDNR Fisheries Biologist, Fred Cronin

There were 7 tournaments held on this waterbody in 2018.

Species Total Fish Caught
Largemouth Bass 111

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

1     5.47 lbs
2     4.81 lbs
3     4.31 lbs
4     4.29 lbs
5     3.56 lbs

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

1 83.94 lbs
2 34.43 lbs
3 26.25 lbs
4 23.50 lbs
5 13.75 lbs

Multiple day tournaments are listed with * end date.

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

2019-2020 Approved or Pending Tournaments
Start Date ID Approval Ramp Location Bank/Boat
Max Boats Species Youth? Open to Public?
April-1815213ApprovedVisitor Center boat
April-2513807ApprovedEldon Hazlet SRA Allen Branch boat
30Largemouth Bass
April-2615101ApprovedEldon Hazlet SRA Allen Branch boat
May-0213846ApprovedEldon Hazlet SRA Allen Branch boat
30Largemouth Bass
June-2814010ApprovedKeyesport boat
15Largemouth Bass
August-0914745ApprovedEldon Hazlet SRA Allen Branch boat
12Largemouth Bass
August-2214490ApprovedEldon Hazlet SRA Allen Branch boat
15Largemouth Bass
October-1114504ApprovedKeyesport boat
80Largemouth Bass