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Carlyle_Lake_Illinois 13 December, 2021

Carlyle Lake

Carlyle Lake, located southeast of Centralia, Illinois, is a reservoir of 25,000 acres in Clinton County, Illinois. This lake is considered the largest man-made lake and also the largest in the whole State of Illinois.

The lake was completed by the US Army Corps in 1966 and was formed by damming the Kaskia River near Carlyle. Carlyle Lake is approximately 24,580 acres across with a shoreline of 85 miles.


  • Boat Ramp and Parking
  • Picnic Tables and Grills
  • Picnic Shelters
  • Toilets 
  • Water Supply
  • Playground equipment
  • Swimming
  • Tent Camping
  • Trailer Camping
  • Electricity
  • Dump Station
  • Showers or Laundry
  • Boat Dockage and Storage
  • Boat and Motor Rental
  • Gas and oil
  • Groceries
  • Bank Fishing
  • Fish Cleaning station
  • Telephone 
  • Cabins


The Carlyle Lake area is perfect for a weekend camping getaway. There are five camping grounds within the area that the US Army Corps of Engineers manage. The campgrounds include electric hookups, paved pads, shower and laundry sites, lakeside view, and shade. 

There is also a vast area of open grass and playgrounds for children to plan in all four campsites. In addition, every Sunday, there are weekend interpretative programs and tours of the Carlyle Lake Main Dam that are perfect family-friendly activities.

Campgrounds information 

2. Boulder

82 Camping Sites

Electric Sites

Full Hookup Sites

Buddy Sites

Laundry Facility

Marina Nearby

2. Coles Creek

148 Camping Sites

Electric Sites

Full Hookup Sites

Laundry Facility

Swimming Beach Nearby

3. Dam West

113 Camping Sites

Electric Sites

Full Hookup Sites

Extended Stay Sites

Laundry Facility

Marina Nearby

Swimming Beach Nearby

4. East Spillway

15 Camping Sites with Electricity

Sites Non-reservable

Adjacent to Tailwater

Open All Year Round

5. McNair

31 Camping Sites

5 Walk-in Sites


Area C Reservable

5 Electric Sites without Grills


Primitive Camping

Beach Nearby


Although Illinois is more popular for agricultural and industrial production, the State offers some very fine fishing sports activities that people will enjoy. Carlyle Lake, in particular, is known to be one of the best fishing recreation spots around Illinois.

Available species of fishes to catch

The lake offers a perfect venue for fishing some largemouth bass, white bass, crappie, channel catfish, and flathead catfish, bluegill, freshwater drum, and carp. There are also other species that are commonly caught in the lake, which are yellow and black bullheads, green sunfish, and yellow bass. 

Other fishes that can be seen in some regularity are yellow bass, walleye, sauger, gar, bowfin, sucker, paddlefish, and carpsucker.

Directly below the lake’s spillway is the tailwater area, which is considered a fisherman’s haven. In this section, there are about 32 species of fish that anglers have caught. Some of the major species caught are bluegill, buffalo, crappie, carp, white bass, and channel catfish. 

It is essential to note that each season offers a different variety of species. To know the current fishing condition, you can contact the local administration at (618) 594-4637

Tips for a great fishing trip

  • Plan your visit ahead of time. 
  • Check with the local fishermen or bait shops regarding fishes that are in season, baits to use, and where to fish.
  • Fish for the species that are most abundant.
  • Keep in mind that fish available this month may not be available the following month.
  • Learn the lake regulations and follow the guidelines 
  • Follow proper operational techniques when using a boat. Do not overload.
  • Watch the weather. When the lake gets rough, seek shelter.
  • Do not litter.

Fishing Regulations

  • White and black crappie must be 10 inches in length and can only be caught for a maximum of 10 daily.
  • Largemouth bass should be 14 inches long, and a maximum of 6 can be caught in a day.
  • The daily limit for white bass and hybrid striped bass is three as long as it is 17 inches long. There is no daily limit if they are less than 17 inches long.

Federal Regulations

Since Carlyle is a US Army Corps reservoir, federal regulations must be strictly observed. These regulations are posted on bulletin boards located in all access areas.


The areas surrounding Carlyle are rich in wildlife. As part of the wildlife program, food plots are provided to maintain the quality of wildlife habitat. 

Carlyle is known as one of the top hunting spots for waterfowl. This place is also a mid-mitigation resting area for other migrating birds. The lake also provides year-round opportunities for hunting white-tail deer, turkey, rabbits, squirrels, doves, bobwhite quail, and pheasants.

You can hunt in all areas around the lake except within 100 yards of developed recreation areas or residence

Wildlife Viewing 

A variety of wildlife can be observed throughout the year at Carlyle Lake since it is a mid-migrational resting area for waterfowl and other migrating birds. There are watchable wildlife towers within the place that are available for public use.

Other attractions near Carlyle Lake include:

Carlyle Lake Visitor Center 

Located at the Dam West Recreation Area, a few minutes from Centralia, Illinois, the Carlyle Lake Visitor Center features an exhibit hall, an auditorium, restrooms, and information about the Carlyle Lake region.

Hours: 10 am – 6 pm.

April 3 – May 23: Sat & Sun

May 24 – Sept 10: Daily

Sept 11 -Sept 26: Sat & Sun

Phone – (618) 594- 5253

Case-Halstead Public Library 

This library offers thousands of books, magazines, DVDs, CDs, computer services, online databases, and much more.

Hours: Monday- Thursday 9 am – 8 pm, Friday 9 am – 5 pm, and Saturday 9 am – 2 pm

Phone – (618) 594-8415

General Dean Suspension Bridge

The General Dean Suspension Bridge, commonly known as the “Swinging Bridge,” stands overlooking the banks of the Kaskaskia. The General Dean Bridge has been listed on the National Historic Registry. This is the only suspension bridge of its kind in Illinois.

St. Louis Gateway Arch 

The St. Louis Gateway Arch is 630-feet tall; the Gateway Arch is considered the tallest man-made national monument in the United States. It has a stainless steel facade and unique shape that remarkably represents the history made in the city of St. Louis. There is an enclosed tram inside the Arch that takes visitors to the top, where you can experience the breathtaking views of modern St. Louis. Early settlers used St. Louis as a gateway to the West when they built the Gateway Arch.

Hours: Open daily from 9 am – 6 pm.

Phone – (877) 982-1410

Reservations and day trips

To make a reservation, you can contact the CarlyleRecreation toll-free number at (877) 444-6777. For day trips, passes are available at the Carlyle Lake Visitor Center and campgrounds

Boat ramps are charged at $5.00 per day, inclusive of the boat launch fee. Designated boat ramps are in place, so best to contact administration.

Public beaches are charged a $5.00 fee per vehicle per day fee. Pedestrian Day Use Fee is worth $2.00 per day per person, and children under 16 years of age or current USACE campers with properly displayed tags are free of charge.


From Carlyle Dam Rd Carlyle Township, IL 62231,

Head southeast on Carlyle Dam Rd
Turn right toward US-50 E
Turn left onto US-50 E
Turn right onto Shattuc Rd
Turn left onto IL-161 E
Destination will be on the left

Carlyle Lake is a perfect place to go for an escape from the hustle and bustle of their daily life and is located only a few miles from Centralia, Illinois. Fishing, kayaking, camping, or just getting away with family and friends will make this your new favorite destination.



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