Illinois Natural History Survey - University of Illinois

Ridge Lake Biological Station




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Fishing Creel

Ridge Lake is home to one of the longest running fishing creels in the world! Anglers are welcome to participate in the creel by fishing at the lake during open times each summer. All fish caught are measured and weighed by Illinois Natural History Staff. These data are part of numerous ongoing studies on bluegill, largemouth bass, and muskie populations.

Ridge Lake is open to the public for fishing each year from Memorial Day weekend through Labor Day weekend. Anglers are provided with rowboats free of charge. Boats are available by reservation. Drop ins are welcome and are subject to availability. Hours of operation are Thursday through Sunday of each week from 2 p.m. to 8 p.m.



Ridge Lake has fishing for largemouth bass, bluegill, redear sunfish, channel catfish, muskie and walleye, and anglers are allowed to keep fish that are legal size. Regulations are a 14-inch minimum size limit for largemouth bass and channel catfish. Channel catfish are stocked annually by the Illinois Department of Natural Resources. Ridge Lake is located inside Fox Ridge State park off IL 130 south of Charleston.  For more information, or to make reservations, contact the lake during open hours at 217-345-6490.



Kyle Broadway – Associate Fisheries Ecologist

Guy Schmidt – Fisheries Technician

Summer Interns are responsible for running the creel in the summer.  If interested in employment opportunities, please contact Kyle Broadway at 217-728-4851, or during the work week.



On April 17, 1941, the valve was closed at Ridge Lake making it the first state managed water with the ability to control water level and drain that was dedicated to research. The land was donated to the Illinois Natural History Survey as a land gift to the state from Charleston citizens. The original director was Dr. George W. Bennett who used the lake to perform research on species stocking combinations. Initially the lake was stocked with 100 largemouth bass adults that spawned 38 broods for an estimated 76,000 total fry. It was stocked again with 335 yearling bass on June 18, 1941 to prey on fry and add to spawning crop following year. Ridge Lake was opened for fishing June 17 1942 (through Oct 30). The lake became a two species fishery when 136 bluegill were added on June 27 and July13, 1944. The fishing creel has run continuous since its opening in 1942 and has been the location of numerous studies on fish ecology.


Illinois Natural History Survey

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Champaign, IL 61820

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