Crab Orchard National Wildlife Refuge Regulations

Discover new places to hunt, fish, take pictures, watch wildlife, walk, and canoe. Enjoy spending time outdoors alone or with friends and family. For more information, please contact the refuge visitor center at 618-997-3344 ext. 1. To ensure your safety and protect wildlife and habitat, please be aware of these regulations.

US Fish and Wildlife Crab Orchard Visitor Center



Fishing is a popular visitor pastime on the refuge. More than 9,000 acres of water are impounded by three man-made reservoirs and several small ponds. The larger lakes, Crab Orchard, Little Grassy, and Devils Kitchen, are available for fishing from a boat on a year-round basis. There are also several areas developed for bank fishing with accessible fishing piers, walkways and fish attractors. Anglers enjoy fishing for largemouth bass, crappie and channel catfish to name just a few of the available species. Sport fishing is permitted throughout the refuge in accordance with all applicable state regulations. To ensure your safety and enjoyment while fishing on the refuge, please take the time to become familiar with the refuge-specific regulations. Organized fishing contests require a special use permit. Contact the visitor center for instructions on how to apply at 618-997-3344 ext 1.

All Refuge Waters

-Organizers of all fishing events must possess a refuge-issued permit. To obtain a permit call 618-997-3344 ext. 334.
-Anglers may not submerge any pole or similar object to take or locate any fish
-Using jugs or flotation devices that have previously contained any petroleum-based or toxic substances is prohibited
-Anglers may not fish within 250 yards of an occupied waterfowl hunting blind

Individual Regulations

Crab Orchard Lake (West of Wolf Creek Road) – 
-Fishing from boats is permitted day and night year-round.
-Trotlines/ jugs must be removed from legal sunrise until legal sunset from the Friday immediately prior to Memorial Day through Labor Day.

Crab Orchard Lake (East of Wolf Creek Road) – 
-Fishing from boats is permitted only from March 1 through October 15.
-Fishing from the bank is permitted year-round, but only at the Wolf Creek and Route 148 causeways.

Little Grassy and Devils Kitchen Lakes- 
-The use of trotlines or jugs is prohibited
-Use of boat motors of more than 10 horsepower is prohibited
-Gas motors are prohibited in the southeastern section of Devils Kitchen Lake
-Designated Ponds within the Restricted Area
-On A-41 and Bluegill Ponds fishing is permitted from sunrise to sunset from March 1 through October 15
-On Visitors and Honkers Corner Ponds fishing is permitted from sunrise to sunset year-round
-Non-gas power boats are permitted

Fishing Events- 
-Competitive fishing requires a special use permit issued by the refuge manager.
-Organizers of fishing events with fewer than 20 boats must obtain a fish-off permit.


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