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Lake Information for Rend Lake


Rend Lake, the state's second largest inland reservoir, is a popular spot for bass tournaments and offers a variety of excellent fishing and recreation opportunities to folks who visit southern Illinois. Sprawling over 18,900 acres, the lake was finished by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in 1971. It is shaped like a broad `Y' and is about 13 miles long and three miles wide with 162 miles of shoreline.

Principal tributaries to the lake are the Big Muddy River and Casey Fork. The main reservoir remains relatively clear due to the silt settling nature of the subimpoundment dams on these two streams at the northern or upper end of the lake.

Major bays of the lake, which averages about 9.7 feet and is 35 feet deep at its deepest spot, are Marcum Branch, Gun Creek, Atchison Creek, Jackie Branch and Sandusky Creek. Two large peninsulas of the lake are Nason Point and the one where Wayne Fitzgerrell State Park is located.

Facilities and Parks: 

: Largest single recreational complex on Rend is Wayne Fitzgerrell State Park that covers 3,300 acres. It has 265 modern camp units with electricity, 45 primitive tent sites, four picnic shelters, five boat launching ramps and 150 picnic units. Flush toilets, showers and playground equipment are found throughout the area, and a dump station is located for trailer campers. Since more than three-fourths of the park is bordered by water, it is an excellent spot for bank fishing.

One of the outstanding features of the complex is the number of access areas that permit sportsmen to use every portion of the lake. In addition to the ramps at major recreation areas, launch facilities are scattered so fishermen and hunters can reach key fishing and hunting areas with a minimal effort.

Rend Lake Resort located in Wayne Fitzgerrell State Park, includes a motel, cabins, and luxury waterfront rooms as well as a bar, restaurant, and marina.

The Rend Lake Marina, formerly known as Pharoah's Garden, is located a half mile north of the Dam West Access and presently is the only full service marina on the lake. Bait and tackle, tour and guide service, rental boats and motors, topo maps, gas and oil, snack items, motor repair service, boat and motor sales and daily and yearly dockage rental are provided.

Fishing Tips, Tactics, How-To info: 

Portion of the lake lying north of Route 154 is quite shallow. It provides some of the best fish habitat on Rend.

Areas of rip rap that lead to deep water also are found at the lake and one of the popular spots both for bank and boat fishermen is the Route 154 causeway. Rip rap areas also are found elsewhere at dam areas and in some places at recreation sites. Though largemouth bass, crappie, bluegills, channel catfish and white bass draw the most attention from fishermen.

White bass fishing usually begins in late March when the fish begin to congregate along the rock rip rap areas or begin moving into the small tributary streams to spawn. This usually occurs during the latter half of April. After egg laying, the white bass return to the lake and can be caught in May and early June from the shallow flats where they forage for insects and small fishes, particularly the first hatch of gizzard shad.

About mid-July, young shad school and range near the surface, drawing the white bass and setting the stage for some exciting fishing. Anglers simply cast spoons, jigs or spinners into the top-water frenzy. Best areas to fish for white bass have been the rock rip rap of Route 154, Interstate 57 and the dam, off the points of Marcum Branch, Wayne Fitzgerrell State Park and Sandusky Creek bay and around islands east of Rend Lake Marina.

Fishermen who enjoy catching bluegills and crappies disappear into the flooded timber areas around Nason Point and the upper arms of Casey Fork and the Big Muddy. Best bluegill action runs from May to mid-June during spawning time.

Bluegills build their nests in water two to five feet deep where there is hard mud or a sand bottom. Once these areas have been located, an offering of a cricket, roach, grub or redworm is enough to trigger action.

October and November are the best crappie months as this lake has one of the best fall crappie fisheries in the state. April, May and June are also good because the fish move to the shallows for spawning. They can be found in water from two to 12 feet deep most of the time and bunch up around stickups, brush and flooded timber. Minnows and small jigs are the most popular baits.

Crappies move to deeper water in summer, and many folks try lantern fishing to catch them. As darkness arrives, a gas lantern is tied about four feet above the water to a limb or a stout stickup or a boat mounted six-foot pole. As darkness sets in, the area illuminated by the lantern attracts bugs, then minnows and hopefully the crappies. And jumbo crappies swim there. In 1976, a bass fisherman caught a 4½-pound black crappie at Rend that turned out to be the state record.

Best largemouth action usually unfolds from early April to mid-June and again from early September to mid-October because the fish are moving toward the shallows where most people fish for them. They can be caught in the summer, however, off deep water bars and points. A variety of baits from the local buzzing "Lunker Lure" to plastic worms and deep diving plugs take bass.

Channel catfish go on the prowl when the lake's pool is on the rise. They are taken by both pole-and-line fishermen and those who use trotlines or jigs.

Stream channels or bay and shoreline spots where there are hard mud and sand bottoms provide good areas to offer a night-crawler, liver, leeches or any of the variety of baits used for these fish. Trotline or jug fishermen also probe flooded river and creek channels, shallow flats with three to 10 feet of water, shoreline margins and those bays with flooded standing timber and small tributary streams.

Big flathead catfish also dwell there and are occasionally caught. Carp and freshwater drum also are abundant, and bullheads also provide plenty of activity.

Walk-in bank fishing opportunities are found at the northern portion of the lake at the wildlife management areas. The spillway and auxiliary channel below the dam also provides a fishery for bank anglers looking for white bass, hybrid striped bass, and crappie.

Crappies, bullheads, carp, drum, bluegills and channel catfish are the species most frequently caught behind the dam. But occasionally one might hook into a big flathead, white bass, largemouth, sauger or an ocean "striper."

Channel Catfish
Largemouth Bass
White Bass
Catfish Family
Optional Information
Maximum depth: 
Surface area: 
Rend Lake
Lake type: 

Businesses Located Nearby

Bait & Tackle

    G & S Bait & Tackle
  • 1542 N Main St - Benton, IL
  • (618) 439-7077
    Klaesner's First Stop
  • 14759 N Rend City Rd - Sesser, IL
  • (618) 625-5507
    Shawnee Bait & Tackle
  • 16161 Ralls Grove Rd - Creal Springs, IL
  • (618) 996-3089

Boat Rental

Vacation Rental

    Rend Lake Resort
  • 11712 E Windy Ln - Whittington, IL
  • (618) 629-2211
    Coy & Wilma's One Stop
  • 14387 N Rend City Rd - Sesser, IL
  • (618) 625-2101

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