Little Grassy Lake


Carbondale, IL
United States United States
37.6255, -89.1462
Depth (average):
27 Feet
1,200 Acres

Little Grassy Lake is a 1,200-acre reservoir in southern Illinois, created by the damming of Little Grassy Creek, a tributary of Crab Orchard Lake and the Big Muddy River. Most of the lake is located in Williamson County, southeast of Carbondale, Illinois.

The lake is accessible from U.S. Highway 51. Two arms of the lake penetrate into adjacent Jackson County.

The lake is managed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service as part of the Crab Orchard National Wildlife Refuge.

Little Grassy Lake is managed for warmwater fishing, with largemouth bass, bluegill, channel catfish, and crappie stocked and caught. There is a power limit on the lake, with motors restricted to 10 h.p. or less. A U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service permit is required for use of the lake.

Little Grassy Lake is IDNR's sole catfish hatchery. For catfish, the spawning and fish maturation process requires at least one year, with mature fish spawning on or around June 1; the fish take at least 13 months to grow to a "nonvulnerable" length of 8 inches (20 cm) and are typically ready for delivery to their new homes in July of the following summer. IDNR distributes Little Grassy catfish to 220 separate Illinois waterways.

A stretch of spillway directly below the Little Grassy dam, measuring 0.2 miles (0.3 km) in length, is a noted whitewater spot, rated at Class II-IV depending on spillway flow conditions. The spillway tends to operate during rain or snow meltwater runoff events in winter and early spring.

Paved roads leading to the lake provide excellent all weather access.

Several boat launches provide boat access to the lake. Boat rental and supplies are sold at the boat dock. Fishing from small boats is the preferred way to fish this lake.

The lake is noted for its solitude, and no water skiers will disturb your quiet family fishing trip. Camping and picnicking sites are also available. Camping is offered with electricity, and a beach is provided for campers. The marina is open March 1 through October 30.


Pine trees and hardwoods surround Little Grassy Lake.


Anglers must not use more than 2 poles and each pole must not have more than 2 hooks or lures attached while fishing.

Bass action begins to pick up during late February. Top water minnow baits, spinner baits, and plastic worms take many of the bass. Look for bass in the 2-6 pound class. Many tributaries feed this lake and anglers will find bass feeding near them after a hard rain. Great fall bass fishing is set against a backdrop of turning oak, hickory, and maple leaves. This lake has a 12-15 inch slot size limit. A slot length limit means that fish within the designated range must be released.

The family will enjoy crappie and bluegill fishing during April and May. Bring minnows, red wigglers, and brown crickets if you want to fill the freezer with a winter supply of fish. You must have a Recreation User Fee pass for this lake that can be obtained from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Visitor Center on Route 148 south

Spot Access:
Boat Ramp, Parking (car/truck), Parking (boat/trailer), Picnic Area, Power Boats Allowed, Swimming Area, Pier, Disabled access, State campground, Shore fishing access, State picnic area, Playground, Camping, Restrooms, Beach, Wading
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Map for 37.6255, -89.1462
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Fishing Reports

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Bass, Largemouth (Micropterus salmoides)


Bluegill (Lepomis macrochirus)


Carp, Common (Cyprinus Carpio)


Crappie, Black (Pomoxis nigromaculatus)



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There are no tournaments associated with this fishing spot.