Choose another lake


Lake Information

County: Marion

Acreage: 542

Average Depth: 15.16 feet

Shoreline Length: 22.2 miles

Recreational Amenities

Boat Fishing? Unrestricted

Boat Ramps? Yes

Boat Rental? Yes

Skiing? Yes

Swimming? Yes

Picnicking? Yes

Camping? Yes

  Trout stocked in fall

  Trout stocked in spring

larger map link Mountain Phillips Dam

    Click on area names for a more detailed map.
    Dam, Mountain, Phillips

Maps are not intended for navigation.

There are no zebra mussels in this lake.

Fish Stocking






Channel Catfish

Advanced Fingerling 4 - 7"



Channel Catfish

Non-vulnerable 8 - 10"



Striped Bass x White Bass (Wiper)

Fingerling 1 - 3"



Channel Catfish

Advanced Fingerling 4 - 7"



Striped Bass x White Bass (Wiper)

Fingerling 1 - 3"



Walleye x Sauger (Saugeye)

Fingerling 1 - 3"


Additional information for stocking on FORBES LAKE

Fishing Outlook  ( Full PDF Report )

Click here for a list of all reports.



Fish Status



The size structure of the bluegill population remains poor. Body condition was much higher for smaller fish (< 6”) than larger fish (> 6”). The fishery continues to be comprised almost entirely of fish < 7.5” in length. Anglers can expect most fish to be between 5” – 7” and weigh 0.1 – 0.25 pounds.



Catfish remain abundant in Forbes Lake and should provide good fishing opportunities in the coming year. Body condition improved above target and catch rate increased. Most fish will range from 1 – 3 pounds, with larger fish exceeding 5 pounds. This lake provides excellent bank fishing opportunities. Drift fishing the main lake is also very productive.



The 2019 and 2020 surveys produced zero hybrid striped bass. The 2018 survey produced three year classes of hybrid striped bass. They ranged in size from 12” – 20” in length and up to 4.5 pounds.


Very Good

On April 01, 2019 the 14” – 18” protected slot limit was replaced by a 14” minimum length limit. The size structure of the bass population remained fairly stable from 2019 to 2020. All of the largemouth bass size structure indices met, or exceeded, their target ranges. The electrofishing catch rate increased. However, average body condition decreased, but remained above the lake management plan target level. The percentage of bass over the 14” minimum decreased from 30% in 2019, but nearly 25% of the adult bass collected in 2020 were over 14”. For 2021, anglers can expect bass over 14” to weigh between 1.3 – 5 pounds, with some fish approaching 7 pounds.

SAUGEYE (Walleye/Sauger Hybrid)


Saugeye are not very common in the annual lake surveys. In 2020, no saugeye were collected. The 2019 survey produced 4 saugeye representing four different year classes. These fish ranged from 9” – 23” in length and up to 5.25 pounds.



The size structure of the white crappie population remained relatively poor, but crappie are abundant. Average body condition for all sizes of crappie decreased to below the lake management plan target. Average body condition for crappie less than 8” long was especially poor and crappie less than 8” comprised more than 47% of the sample in 2020. Beginning on April 01, 2021, a new crappie regulation will take effect on Forbes Lake. There will be no creel limit on crappie under 8” in length, but only 10 crappie 8” in length and longer may be harvested per day. Crappie fishing in 2021 should be good and anglers can expect most fish to range from 6” – 9” in length with a few larger fish over 10”. Harvest of crappie less than 8” is strongly encouraged.

Location: Forbes Lake is located in Marion County, approximately 13 miles northeast of Salem Illinois.

Description: Forbes Lake was constructed in Stephen A. Forbes State Park near Salem in 1963. The Lake has a surface area of 585 acres, a maximum depth of 31 feet, and a mean depth of 12 feet. The lake has 18 miles of shoreline and a watershed of 13,800 acres.

History and Status of the Sport Fishery: The sport fish population in Forbes Lake is comprised primarily of largemouth bass, bluegill, redear sunfish, white crappie, and channel catfish, and is stocked annually with saugeye (walleye/sauger hybrid). The lake also contains a strong population of yellow bullheads and large common carp (20+ lbs). The fish population is surveyed annually.

Additional Lake Information: Two pole and line fishing only.

Site Regulations:
Largemouth Bass: 6 fish daily limit; 14" minimum length limit
Striped, White, Hybrid Striped Bass: 3 fish daily limit; 17" minimum length limit
Channel Catfish: 6 fish daily limit, no length limit
Crappie: 10 fish daily limit; 8" minimum length. NO creel limit on crappie under 8"

Contact Information:
Stephen A. Forbes State Park
IDNR Fisheries Biologist, Boone LaHood

There were 33 tournaments held on this waterbody in 2020.

Species Total Fish Caught
Largemouth Bass 779

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

1     7.00 lbs
2     6.62 lbs
3     6.30 lbs
4     6.19 lbs
5     5.90 lbs

Top 5 Total Tournament Weight of Largemouth Bass caught on this waterbody in 2020 tournaments:

1 195.81 lbs
2 142.06 lbs
3 92.90 lbs
4 79.70 lbs
5 74.65 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.

2021 Approved or Pending Tournaments
Start Date ID Approval Ramp Location Bank/Boat
Max Boats Species Youth? Open to Public?
November-1119662ApprovedEast Launch (Dam Area) boat
20Largemouth Bass