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Rice Lake

Fulton County - Illinois
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Located in Central Illinois, the Rice Lake State Fish and Wildlife Area lies adjacent to the Illinois River, 4 miles south of Banner, Illinois, along Route 24 in Fulton County.
Because the Rice Lake SFWA is not separated from the Illinois River by a high levee, its fish populations fluctuate in composition, numbers, and condition as the area is alternately flooded and dewatered by river levels. The basin of Rice Lake and Big Lake are broad and dish-shaped, constraining the quality and quantity of year-round fish cover.

Ongoing water level management activities involve midsummer drawdowns to promote moist-soil plant production. As a result, water levels in Rice Lake and Big Lake during July and August are typically no more than 12 to 16 inches, with water temperatures during drawdown approaching 90 degrees Fahrenheit. These conditions severely limit both the composition and survival of fish populations. Rice Lake has had recent low dissolved oxygen fish kills occurring in the summers of 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007 and 2018. High Illinois River levels in 2008, 2009 and 2010 prevented major water level draw downs in Rice Lake and no major fish kills occurred. No major fish kills occurred in Big Lake or the attached Duck Island Main Lake during these same time frames. The attached Duck Island Main Lake serves as a deepwater refuge and/or escapement for fish in Big Lake.

Bank fishing is allowed year-round in the vicinity of the Complex headquarters. Bank and boat fishing will be allowed year-round on Duck Island Main Lake and Little Lake. Boat fishing will be permitted year-round, except for October 1 to April 1 on Rice Lake, Big Lake, Bebee Lake, Goose Lake and Slim Lake. Ice fishing, sport or commercial, is not permitted at the Rice Lake Complex. Open water commercial fishing is available with a site permit from April 1 to August 31st.

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Frequently Asked Questions About Rice Lake, IL

How big is Rice Lake?
Rice Lake is approximately 1,383 sq acres (5.6 sq km) in size with 15 miles (24.1 km) of shoreline.

What kind of fish can you catch in Rice Lake?
Although thery may be others but anglers can expect to find a variety of fish including Bluegill, Carp, Channel Catfish, Drum (Sheepshead), Largemouth Bass and Yellow Bullhead in Rice Lake.

What are the closest cities to Rice Lake?
Nearby cities and towns include Banner, IL, Dunfermline, IL and Goofy Ridge, IL.

Are there places to stay in the Rice Lake area?
Are you craving a weekend escape from the hustle and bustle of city life? Or maybe you're an avid angler in search of the perfect fishing spot? Look no further! Rice Lake and its surrounding area offer an abundance of options to suit your needs. If you're in need of accommodation, check out our area map which highlights some of the best places to stay. And if you're looking for even more options, head on over to our Travel section. But why settle for a traditional hotel or resort when you can take your adventure to the next level by renting a RV? The open road awaits you!
More Lodging Options

Are there places to eat and drink near Rice Lake?
Yes, you can find numerous options in the area. Click the button below to see what's nearby.

What is the fishing outlook for Rice Lake?
What does the future look like for Rice Lake? We have some insignt on what to expect for a number of fish species in Rice Lake.

History & Status of the Fishery
Due to the annual inundation of the Rice Lake Complex by the Illinois River, fish species management on this small scale is a difficult objective. The associated sedimentation, loss of lake water volume and loss of aquatic plants have all negatively impacted the sportfish habitat present in the Rice Lake Complex. The current fishery is also definitely hindered by the lack of deep water habitat for the winter and the summer stress periods. An accessible deep water refuge of 7 to 10 feet of water in approximately 20% of the Rice lake/Big lake complex would be a goal for a future restoration project at this site. The current function of the site does allow for some fish refuge in the Duck Island gravel pit, which contains 166 acres of deep water habitat. Annual fish population analysis surveys will be used to monitor the fishery and evaluate its quality. The major parameters to be used in measuring the species quality will include catch per unit of effort values, index of condition and overall species composition. Fish population documentation will provide baseline data and changes from the historical data. The data collected now maybe needed to evaluate and improve the design for future restoration projects or management actions.

Limited fish stocking may occur at the Rice Lake Complex. Northern pike fry have been stocked in the early spring at the site to utilize the flooded terrestrial vegetation as a nursery habitat. Migration to deep water habitat and the Illinois River is expected. Alligator gar were stocked into the Duck Island Little Lake in 2010. This lake at the Rice Lake Complex was one of several Illinois River backwater lakes chosen as initial stocking sites for the alligator gar reintroduction in Illinois. Alligator gar survival, growth and habits will be evaluated at these sites.

The densities of bluegill, largemouth bass, black and brown bullhead populations are still very low. In 2016 thru 2019, their levels increased and reflected the improvement seen in the Illinois River valley. Spring and summer water level does not appear to be the only factor for their population densities. Dramatic declines have been observed after low water years, and then surge after high water years. But winter water levels either low or high also appear to have an effect on these populations too.

In 2019, 37 species were sampled and represent a backwater/riverine fish community. This level is the highest in the past 10 years. Since the 2003 survey, over 40 different species have been collected in the annual surveys.

The largemouth bass, bluegill and black crappie populations had been collected at good densities with good body condition ratings until 2012 and then decreased through 2015. In 2016 thru 2019, their levels have increased and reflected an improvement.

The buffalo, common carp and Asian carp populations continued to be present at high densities and selectively sampled due to the high biomass that was present for sampling.

Controling Authority
Rice Lake State Fish and Wildlife Area
IDNR Fisheries Biologist, Rob Hilsabeck

What is the average air temp for Rice Lake?
Looking forward to your next adventure at Rice Lake? Don't forget to plan ahead! Weather can be unpredictable, but we've got you covered. On average, air temperatures during this time of year range from a high around 83°F (28°C) to a low around 62°F (17°C). Of course, these are just historical averages, so be prepared for anything Mother Nature throws your way. For the most up-to-date weather information, be sure to check out our Weather Bar located at the top of this page.

Are there any state parks near Rice Lake?
Enjoy more of the outdoors with a visit to an area state park. There are 4 state parks in the vacinity of Rice Lake.

For more Illinois State Park information see our State Park Guide.

More Nearby Lakes To Explore
There's more lake's to explore around Rice Lake...
Big Lake 1.2 mi 1,623
Beebe Lake 2.3 mi 1,623
Goose Lake 2.5 mi 1,623
Shovel Lake 2.6 mi 100 65 ft
Shovel Lake-Banner Marsh 2.6 mi 78
South Spring Lake 2.9 mi 660
Clear Lake 3.6 mi 5,160
North Spring Lake 3.7 mi 466
Spring Lake 3.7 mi 1,114
Mud Lake 5.3 mi 5,160
DISCLAIMER: Lake-Link Inc assumes no responsibility or liability for any errors or omissions of the information for Rice Lake. Although we strive to provide the most accurate information as we can the information contained in this page is provided on an "as is" basis with no guarantees of completeness, accuracy, usefulness or timeliness.

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