This lake is the most scenic of the Big 3 reservoirs of the prairie state.  Located in Shelby and Moultrie counties,LakeShelbyvilleis over 11,000 acres of water with a shoreline of approximately 172 acres.  Built in 1979, it was formed by the damming of the Kaskaskia andOkawRivers.  It can be accessed by Interstate 57 and U.S. Route 16 nearMattoon,Illinois. 

LakeShelbyvillehas experienced an unexplained population decline in channel catfish during the past few years.  In most of the more recent years, electro-fishing catches have not met the projected goals of the department.  A general ten-year trend in net catches appears to show a decline in numbers.  The reasons for the decline are not clear.  Predation by an increasing population of largemouth bass and deteriorating spawning habitat are suspected to be contributing to the decline of catfish. 

The limited rip rap has been suspected as a problem in that it limits the spawning habitat for catfish.  Some large rip rap would be ideal spawning habitat for both the channel catfish and flatheads. 

Harvest rates for channel and flathead catfish combined have been remarkably similar in creel surveys.  This may explain why anglers report good fishing action. 

Channel catfish average 1 ½ pounds.  The most catfish seem to be taken in the upper reaches of either of the two arms of the lake.  Flatheads up to 72 pounds have been caught in this lake.  In the surveys, too few flathead catfish are sampled to make an estimate of the average size in the lake. 

Even though good catfish action is often found in the tailwater below the dam, most of the local catfish experts prefer the north end of the lake.  The best catfish habitat can be found north of the railroad bridge in either the Kaskaskia orWest Okawarms of the main lake.  Additional fishing action is found in the smaller creeks that empty the Kaskaskia watershed. 

Anglers do well in the coves using trotlines baited with shad guts, mud leeches and big minnows. 

For those catfishermen seeking the really big flatheads it is a good idea to use large live baits.  Locals have been known to use one pound carp or large sunfish as bait.  Channel Catfish anglers use more traditional catfish baits of large minnows, cut bait and leeches. 

Lake and regional information can be obtained from theLake Manager’s Office at 217-774-3951.  Their mailing address is: Route 16 East,P.O. Box 126,Shelbyville,IL62565.  Information on accommodations is available from the Chamber of Commerce office in Shelbyville at 217-774-2221.



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