With over 11,000 acres of water and 172 miles of shoreline, the lake is a perfect host for a great variety of activities.
Lake Shelbyville is a US Army Corps of Engineers facility, built as part of a general comprehensive plan for the development of the Kaskaskia Basin for flood control, recreation, water supply, and fish and wildlife conservation.
Visitors to Lake Shelbyville can expect to find a variety of outdoor recreational opportunities. If your favorite pursuit is camping, you can choose from close to 1500 campsites in areas operated by the Corps, the State of Illinois, and Sullivan Marina and Campground.
TRAILS: For the hiker, trails ranging from 1/2 mile to an 11 mile backpacking trail and 15 mile equestrian trail are scattered around the lake.
BOATING: If water-based recreation is more your speed, check out the marinas for boat rentals. Concrete launching ramps are located in most recreation areas. All major developed recreation areas have boat ramps with courtesy docks. In the event of flooding, high water boat ramps are also available in most areas. Small boat access ramps can be found scattered in other areas around the lake.
Four public beaches and two campground beaches provide ample space for the sunbather and swimmer. The public beaches are located in Dam West, Sullivan Beach, Wilborn Creek, and Wolf Creek State Park. All are accessible. Dam West Recreation Area offers beach mats for easy access as well as an accessible playground.
Lake Shelbyville is renowned for great fishing! In fact, Lake Shelbyville was selected by Bassmaster Magazine as one of the best bass lakes in Illinois. A rural Windsor man and Lake Shelbyville fishing guide, Bruce Sanders, caught and released the new Lake record white bass! The record bass weighed in at 4lbs. 2oz.The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers maintains sizeable populations in 16 ponds that it manages in conjunction with the local Department of Natural Resources.
Visitors can fish in more than 11,000 acres of clear water where catfish, largemouth bass, crappie, walleye, muskie, white bass and bluegill are in abundance. The new Lake record Catfish was caught in 2002 by Shelbyville resident, Chris Rentfro. The catfish was 62 lbs. 10oz. and was 48 inches long!! Lake Shelbyville offers some of the best largemouth bass fishing in the Midwest. Novice and avid fisherman alike will find plenty to catch, even with the 14-inch minimum length limit.
Fishermen appreciate the fact that the average-size keeper is more than two pounds. Tournament anglers generally need to catch between 16 and 17 pounds to win the average one-day event!
Since a number of Muskie were caught over the 36-inch limit, the new size limit is now 48 inches. A decade down the road if these fish are caught and released properly we will have 40 to 50 pound muskies in Lake Shelbyville. The longest Muskie caught in Lake Shelbyville, on September 14th, 2001by Tom Ozee of Mattoon, was 51 inches and weighed 30.09 ounces. Another Mattoon man, Matt Carmean, landed the newest Illinois State Record for Muskie. The new record was caught on April 20th 2002 weighing 38 pounds 8 ounces and 50 3/4 inches long! Lake Shelbyville promises, in the future, to be a leader in the Muskie world.
Backs of coves, deep water holes,wooded shoreline, inlets, islands
Fishing reports on Lake Shelbyville regularly include mention of active muskies feeding in the backs of coves or of muskie caught by accident off deep-water points especially in the prime months of April, May, October, and November.