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Beginning July 2021: Crab Orchard Lake will be lowered 4 feet for spillway repair. CAUTION: Boaters and anglers should use caution at boat ramps and be more aware of shallow areas. The drawdown will be maintained until the repairs are completed in Spring 2022.

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.

Fish Attractors:

There are no zebra mussels in this lake.

Fish Stocking






Largemouth Bass

Advanced Fingerling 4 - 7"



Largemouth Bass

Advanced Fingerling 4 - 7"


Additional information for stocking on CRAB ORCHARD LAKE

Fishing Outlook  ( Full PDF Report )

Click here for a list of all reports.



Fish Status



The abundance of Crab Orchard Lake bluegill decreased for the fifth year in a row in 2020, but the proportion of fish over 6 inches in length increased from 40 to 62%. Abundance however still exceeded the management goal for the fifteenth year in a row. The proportion of bluegill larger than seven inches doubled at 23%. Bluegill body condition remained excellent, indicating another good forecast for bluegill anglers.



Crab Orchard Lake channel catfish quality and body condition, similar to previous years, was excellent, and 55% of the fish collected were larger than 22 inches in length.



The percentage of white and black crappie larger than 8 inches remained high in 2019 at 53% for black crappie and 86% for white crappie. The percentage of white crappie larger than ten inches in length was good at 40%, while 19% of black crappie in the sample achieved that size. Body condition of both white and black crappie was good, but near the lower end of the management plan goal range. Crappie smaller than 10 inches in length tend to be overabundant in Crab Orchard Lake, and anglers are encouraged to remove these fish to thin the population and improve the quality of the fishery.



The bass fishing forecast for Crab Orchard Lake is good to very good. In 2019, the percentage of bass larger than 16 inches continued to increase (33%). Of these, 18% were also larger than 18 inches slightly higher than the previous year. Largemouth bass abundance in the 2019 sample increased compared to the previous year (69/hr), and the general management plan goal of 60 per hour was easily met. Body condition of largemouth bass in Crab Orchard Lake has remained excellent.


Very Good

Numbers of Crab Orchard Lake white bass collected during the fall 2020 survey, although relatively small at 12 fish per hour of electrofishing, represented the second highest in fourteen years, and the proportion over 10 inches (84%) was impressive. Fish in the sample ranged in size from 5 to 15 inches, and 49% were larger than 12 inches. White bass body condition just met the management plan goal. management plan goal.

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.

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

There were 20 tournaments held on this waterbody in 2020.

Species Total Fish Caught
Crappie 59
Largemouth Bass 480

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

1     6.88 lbs
2     6.88 lbs
3     6.56 lbs
4     6.50 lbs
5     6.41 lbs

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

1 339.27 lbs
2 173.38 lbs
3 126.19 lbs
4 117.57 lbs
5 108.69 lbs