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Crab Orchard Lake

Crab Orchard Lake, the largest of three man-made lakes nestled within the Crab Orchard National Wildlife Refuge in southern Illinois near Carbondale was created for flood protection and recreation in 1930 by the construction of a dam on Crab Orchard Creek, which is a tributary of the Big Muddy River. This lake provides over 4,700 acres of recreational waters for boating, fishing and swimming while the surrounding refuge offers campgrounds, environmental education, seasonal hunting areas and wildlife observation areas.


Larger-than-average-sized species produced in Crab Orchard Lake include black crappie, bluegill, largemouth bass and channel catfish. Other popular species found in this lake include carp, freshwater drum, striped and hybrid-striped bass, muskellunge, bullhead, sunfish, warmouth and more.

The Illinois Department of Natural Resources (IDNR) stocked Crab Orchard Lake with largemouth bass. In 2006, they installed artificial spawning beds in the lake's Grassy Bay. Bass Fishing Tournaments occur several times each year on Crab Orchard Lake. In 2008, the record largemouth bass weighed 10.6 pounds.

The Illinois Department of Natural Resources Division of Fisheries offers "Spear/Bow and Arrow" and "Hook-and-Line" Sport-Fishing Awards to recognize anglers for fish caught in Illinois' waters. (Click Link at right to learn more.)


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    Crab Orchard Lake Illinois Coordinates:
37.7189N -89.0926W
Map It:
Lake Type:
Surface Area:
6,965 acres
Maximum Depth:
30 ft
405 ft
Normal Water Clarity:
1-3 ft
Major City:
St. Louis, MO
St. Louis, MO


Although Crab Orchard Lake enforces a No Wake Zone within 150 feet of the entire 125-mile shoreline, all boat and motor types and sizes are welcome on Crab Orchard Lake. A full-service marina offers boating and fishing supplies and services while numerous public boat launch ramps offer easy access to the water.

Please note posted signs marking the sections where the lake is off limits to anglers, boaters and swimmers for the benefits of migrating geese and ducks.


Two campgrounds operate on the northern side of the lake.

Please consult theLake Resource Guide for information on lodging and events in the area.


The closest major city to Crab Orchard Lake is St. Louis, Missouri, which is 132 miles from the lake. Nearby Illinois cities and towns, each with its own unique offerings, include: Crainville, Carterville, Marion, Herrin and Carbondale. Crab Orchard Lake flows through parts of Williamson County.

Fun times at Crab Orchard Lake  Crab Orchard Lake

  Crab Orchard Lake   Crab Orchard Lake

Average Temperatures Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
Avg. High  42 Avg. High  47 Avg. High  57 Avg. High  68 Avg. High  77 Avg. High  86 Avg. High  89 Avg. High  89 Avg. High  82 Avg. High  70 Avg. High  58 Avg. High  45
Avg. Low  23 Avg. Low  26 Avg. Low  35 Avg. Low  44 Avg. Low  55 Avg. Low  64 Avg. Low  67 Avg. Low  64 Avg. Low  55 Avg. Low  44 Avg. Low  36 Avg. Low  26