Carlyle Lake is the largest manmade lake within Illinois with more than 26,000 acres of water and 11,000 acres of land. It is located just 50 miles east of St. Louis, Missouri. Carlyle Lake offers tremendous recreational opportunities. Regardless of your tastes, Carlyle Lake has something for you.
You can go fishing for bass, bluegill, crappie, catfish, walleye, sauger, or more than 30 other species. The tailwater (below the dam) is the most productive fishing area in Illinois, producing 3,260 lbs. of fish per water acre. The state record flathead catfish and white bass have been caught in the spillway.
Carlyle Lake is well known to sailors as one of the best and most challenging lakes for sailboats. The lake was host for the 1994 U.S. Olympic Festival Sailing Competition. There are sailing races almost every weekend through the summer. Boats and watercraft of all types are suitable for use on the lake.
There's swimming beaches, camping areas, including two state parks, golf courses, great restaurants, and the kind of friendly hospitality that's a prize catch indeed.
The land bordering the lake is flat to gently rolling with partially timbered shoreline. Carlyle Lake is a typical open lake subject to changes in wind velocity or direction.
The lake becomes chemically and thermally stratified during the summer months. This is typical of most Illinois lakes. Generally, from mid-June to September, the dissolved oxygen level becomes quite low or non-existent below 12 feet. Thus, summertime anglers should avoid fishing below this level as few fish are found there during this period.
Winters are occasionally cold enough to put a solid ice cover over the entire lake and when this does occur, some fair to good ice fishing can be enjoyed in the upper portion of the lake.
Upper Lake Area:
Division between upper and lower parts of the lake is formed by the Burlington Northern Railroad tracks which span the water from the towns of Keyesport to Boulder. The upper area (approximately one-third of the lake) offers some of the best crappie, bluegill, largemouth bass, bullhead, and channel catfish angling found in the lake. This portion of the lake is quite shallow (eight feet or less) with an average depth of about three feet. For the benefit of fishermen and waterfowl hunters, all timber and brush was left standing when the lake filled. Carlyle Lake is also dotted with numerous islands and sand ridges. Besides the inflowing Kaskaskia river, this area has a number of tributaries (Hurricane, Bear, Maggot, East Fork and North Fork Creeks) which offer fine fishing. Two public access areas, Tamalco on the west and patoka on the east, provide quick and easy entry to the upper lake.
Lower Lake Area:
Below the railroad tracks, (the lower two-thirds) the lake is quite open except for some timber left standing in the three major bays. The prime fishing bays of the lower lake include West Branch, Burnside Bay, Allen, Peppenhorst, Bond Branch, and Coles, Gibbes and Brewster Creeks. Access areas to this part of the lake includeWest Access near Carlyle, South Shore State park, Coles Creek on the east, Eldon Hazlet State Park on the west, and Keyesport Access and Boulder Access. Some of the better fishing spots are the bays, river and creek channels, points, and around the islands. Good crappie, channel catfish, largemouth bass, drum, bluegill and white bass fishing can be found in the lower portion of the lake.
The East and West Spillway Access Areas are directly below the Carlyle Lake dam. Another fisherman access area is east of the Kaskaskia River bridge, north of U.S. 50. This site provides easy access to the Kaskaskia River and the old river bed.
The lake has 82 miles of shoreline .
Timber and brush.
The tailwater (below the dam) is the most productive fishing area. Some of the better fishing spots are the bays, river and creek channels, points, and around the islands.