Lake Shelbyville is beautiful in its natural state and currently that is the way to enjoy it.

Despite the State of Illinois “stay-at-home order,” Lake Shelbyville is still 11,000 acres of water, 172 miles of shoreline and a trail net work of 170 miles that is open to private use.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) St. Louis District closed all visitor centers, museums, beaches and project offices to the public. Campgrounds are also closed.

All other events, including USACE-sponsored events, interpretative programs, fishing tournaments, lock-and-dam tours and site visits are canceled.

However, the lake is still a natural wonderland available for enjoyment. Day use areas and boat ramps on USACE property are still open for the everyone to enjoy.

“Every day people are fishing below the Shelbyville Dam,” said Ashley Florey with the Interpretive Program. “The boat ramps are open and people can fish the lake. The trails are open, so people can walk the Dacey Trail and other trails, as long as they are social distancing.”

The lake is not as busy, so a quiet stroll down a trail, or fishing along the lake is more pristine, less commercial.

The pump track at Forest Park is still open, so with social distancing in mind, riders can improve their skills and when they are ready head out on one of the 20 different bike trails that vary from 1.5 to 18.8 miles.

Other amenities like the fish cleaning stations are not open and the restrooms are close. There are portable restrooms available. State Parks around Lake Shelbyville are also closed down.

Lithia Springs is closed to the public and they are not selling gas at least until May 1, but slip owners have access to their boats and can go out and enjoy the lake and fish to their hearts content.

Findlay Marina’s gas dock is not open, until May 1, but the ramp is open and fishermen are out on the lake every day.

“We do not have any boat rentals reserved until the middle of May,” said Steve Lucas, Manager at Findlay Marina. “Usually we have boat rentals by this time. People can give us a call and they can rent a boat and enjoy the lake.”

There are currently no fishing tournaments on the lake. However, no ramps fees are being charged right now and annual passes that need renewed are still valid, because they can’t be renewed.

The Corps of Engineers will gradually begin to open services, once the “stay-at- home” order is lifted.

“We are playing it day by day,” Floey said. “Every state in our district is different. Once it goes back to normal, the public will still have to give us five to seven days to gets everything back open.”

Until then fishing, boating, hiking and bike riding is open at the lake for day use.

John Curtis can be reached at

John Curtis can be reached at

This Week's Circulars

Recommended for you