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
- Water Supply
- Playground equipment
- Tent Camping
- Trailer Camping
- Dump Station
- Showers or Laundry
- Boat Dockage and Storage
- Boat and Motor Rental
- Gas and oil
- Bank Fishing
- Fish Cleaning station
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.
82 Camping Sites
Full Hookup Sites
2. Coles Creek
148 Camping Sites
Full Hookup Sites
Swimming Beach Nearby
3. Dam West
113 Camping Sites
Full Hookup Sites
Extended Stay Sites
Swimming Beach Nearby
4. East Spillway
15 Camping Sites with Electricity
Adjacent to Tailwater
Open All Year Round
31 Camping Sites
5 Walk-in Sites
Area C Reservable
5 Electric Sites without Grills
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.
- 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.
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
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,
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.