Located along the
Kaskaskia and West Okaw rivers near Sullivan, the Shelbyville State Fish
and Wildlife Management Area offers some of the best hunting, river fishing
and nature study opportunities in the state. The area contains mor than
6,000 acres of mixed habitats including forests, prairies, restored grasslands,
old fields, brush, wetlands, rivers, streams and cropland in the upper reaches of the 34,000-acre Lake Shelbyville project area.
Lake Shelbyville is
a US Army Corps of Engineers
facility, built as part of a general comprehensive plan for the development
of the Kaskaskia Basin for flood control, recreation, water supply, and
fish and wildlife conservation. The 11,000-acre lake and its surrounding
uplands form a scenic background for a variety of outdoor recreational
At normal pool, Lake
Shelbyville averages 16 feet in depth, with a maximum depth of 67 feet.
Islands, coves, peninsulas and inlets create 250 miles of picturesque,
wooded shoreline. It extends nearly 17 miles from the dam at Shelbyville
to its limits above Sullivan and Bethany. Development of the shoreline
has been intentionally kept to a minimum, allowing uninterrupted views
of the lake's natural features throughout its length.
Shelbyville State Fish
and Wildlife Area is composed of two separate units. The Kaskaskia (eastern)
Unit covers 3,700-acres and the West Okaw (western) Unit about 2,500
acres. These are managed primarily to promote diverse habitats to accomodate
a wide variety of wildlife species, and support related recreational
opportunities. Because of its focus
on hunting and fishing, the area has no camping, picnicking or day-use
Oak, hickory and sugar maple flourish in the uplands, while cottonwood, sycamore, silver maple
and willow dominate the lowlands. This variety of species creates spectacular
scenery as the foliage changes from green to the vivid reds, oranges,
purples and yellows of a showy Illinois fall.
plants can be found along railroad paths, rural roads and in abandoned
fields. Of special note is the unique,3.5 acre Hill Prairie.
This relic prairie jewel has been managed to replicate its natural state.
Located near the extreme southeast corner of the Kaskaskia Unit, the area
is known to harbor more than 50 species of native plants. Its summer bloom
of purple and yellow coneflowers is, by itself, worthy of a visit to
the site. An additional wealth of native wildflowers can be found in woodland
understories, along ditch banks and in old field settings throughout
More than 200 species of
birds have been documented on the site since listing began in 1975. Seasonal
displays featuring shorebirds, wading birds, waterfowl, wood warblers,
raptors and grassland and shrub habitat songbirds are a birdwatcher's
delight. Resident game birds and game mammals are plentiful, offering
the hunter opportunities not readily available in the intensely farmed
areas dominating off-site landscapes. Bobwhite quail, ring-necked pheasant,
mourning dove, woodcock, cottontail rabbit, white-tailed deer, fox and gray
squirrel, raccoon, muskrat, opossum and mink are found in good numbers.
Portions of the area
are managed under a farm lease program to promote upland wildlife habitat
and to demonstrate the potential for producing wildlife on farm lands.
Site personnel supplement natural habitats with tree and shrub plantings,
native grass seedings, specialty food crop production and succession control.
Wetland and marshland
habitat management are emphasized in and around the five waterfowl management
areas. By controlling the depth and duration of water on an area, significant
amounts of natural moist-soil plants are produced. These, in turn, are
used to provide breeding, courtship, feeding and staging areas for wetland
wildlife species including rails, snipe, herons, shorebirds, cormorants,
ducks and geese.
Hunters and fishermen
will find six small boat launching facilities conveniently located in
the wildlife areas. Visitors with bigger craft are advised to use the
larger access areas offered at marinas, state parks or Corps of Engineers
The Kaskaskia and
West Okaw rivers provide excellent stream fishing for walleye, white bass,
crappie and channel catfish. Boats are welcome on the rivers, but the
corridors are designated no-wake areas.
Largemouth bass, bluegill,
redear and channel catfish are found in the six ponds scattered around
the management units. Ponds range in size from 0.5 to 1.7
acres in size.
Hunters are welcome
throughout the area, except where hunting is prohibited within 100 yards
of residences and in other areas, as posted. The site offers ample opportunities
for rabbit, pheasant and quail in upland settings. Fox and gray squirrels
are plentiful in the timbered areas. Deer are common and can be taken
with shotgun, bow or muzzleloading rifle. Dove are seasonally abundant,
especially in sunflower fields. Woodcock and common snipe
are present in huntable numbers during migrations.
and hunting are featured programs on both management units. Five subimpoundments
provide excellent mid-migration habitat and quality walk-in or boat waterfowl
hunting opportunities. During the first
few days of the season duck and goose hunting sites are allocated by
daily drawings. Contact the site office for details and rules.
Unit Hunter Fact Sheet | West
Okaw Unit Hunter Fact Sheet | Waterfowl Hunter Fact Sheet
Trapping is allowed
only by special permit and in designated furbearer management units. A drawing
for permits is held annually of October. Trappers
must report their take to the area headquarters at the end of the season.
and Nature Study
The Kaskaskia and
West Okaw units offer developed nature trails that highlight habitats. Trails provide visitors an opportunity to leisurely
wander through natural settings that present different plant and animal
communities at every turn. Whether a spring walk to look at wildflowers
or marvel at woodland warblers, or a fall hike to take in fall leaf color,
these trails showcase some of central Illinois' finest outdoor spectaculars.
- While groups of 25 or
more are welcome and encouraged to use the park's facilities, they are required
to register in advance with the site office to avoid crowding or scheduling
- At least one responsible
adult must accompany each group of 15 minors.
- Pets must be kept on
leashes at all times.
- Actions by nature can
result in closed roads and other facilities. Please call ahead to the park
office before you make your trip.
- We hope you enjoy your
stay. Remember, take only memories, leave only footprints.
- For more information
on tourism in Illinois, call the Illinois Department of Economic Opportunity
Bureau of Tourism at 1-800-2Connect.
- Telecommunication Device
for Deaf and Hearing Impaired Natural Resources Information (217) 782-9175
for TDD only Relay Number 800-526-0844.