Description - Carlyle Lake is a 26,000-acre multipurpose lake administered by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. It is also used for recreational purposes of many types.
The Department of Natural Resources has a 25-year lease on part of the Army Corps' property to conduct a variety of habitat management measures aimed at increasing food, shelter and nesting areas for numerous wildlife species.
Recreational opportunities abound on the lake and at Eldon Hazlet State Park, at the southern end of the lake. At the Fish and Wildlife Area, however, the pleasures are simple and revolve mainly around enjoying the beauty and solitude of nature as visitors birdwatch, fish and hunt.
The federal lease land and state property provide almost 9,500 acres of wildlife habitat. The Fish and Wildlife Area is blessed with habitat diversity: approximately 2,000 acres of woodland, 5,800 acres of open water and wetlands, 200 acres of grassland, and 1,500 acres of cropland planted for wildlife food and cover. The area is divided by the following management areas: Westside Management Area, Eastside Management Area, Flooded Dead Timber Area and Open Water Area.
- A network of levees separates the 3,500-acre bottomland area into several smaller and more manageable compartments. Habitat management consists of planting crops such as corn, milo, millet and winter wheat, and promoting the growth of natural wetland vegetation (moist soil management).
The manipulation of water levels plays an important part in management of the area. By manipulating spring water levels, moist soil plants such as wild millet can grow in several permanent moist soil areas and in some fields that were planted to annual crops the previous year. In the fall, flooding the leveed areas provides migrating waterfowl access to the food. Access to the area is by way of Cox's Bridge, Hitogi Access Area, or parking lots at Subimpoundments 1, 2 or 3.
The 2,500-acre area located on the east side of the Kaskaskia River provides opportunities for waterfowl, upland and forest game hunters. The area is blessed with numerous natural wetlands and a large tract of timber. Additionally, several fields are planted to wildlife food plants. Fields are also planted to provide dove hunting. Access is by way of two parking lots at Eckert's Woods, and the Hitogi and Cox's Bridge access fields.
Recreation - Carlyle Lake is known as one of the top waterfowl hunting areas in the state. The Department of Natural Resources also provides opportunities for hunting white-tailed deer, turkeys, squirrels, bobwhite quail, rabbits and doves. Trapping is permitted after duck season and requires a permit from the site manager.
Fishing is available on over 2000 acres of the lake and on the Kaskaskia River. There are two boat ramps on the Kaskaskia River for fishing access.
Bird watchers will enjoy observing bald eagles, ospreys, cormorants and great blue herons, as well as numerous species of shorebirds and songbirds.
Climate - Illinois experiences four distinct seasons with varying weather throughout the year. Winter can be very cold. The highest humidity of the year occurs during this season averaging 70 to 75 percent. Average low temperatures in January dip to 20 degrees F with highs near 35 degrees F. Spring temperatures are mild with humidity below 70 percent. Temperatures during this season average between 32 and 50 degrees F. Summer is usually hot and humid in this Midwest state. Low temperatures remain in the low sixties with high temperatures near 90 degrees F. The highest rainfall of the year occurs during the summer months. Fall is an excellent time to visit the state with low humidity and rainfall and moderate temperatures.
Carlyle Lake State Fish and Wildlife Area is 60 miles east of St. Louis, near Vandalia. The area is at the northern end of Carlyle Lake and at the southwestern tip of Fayette County. The area is at the northern end of Carlyle Lake and at the southwestern tip of Fayette County.