The Wayne Fitzgerrell State Park is located in southern Illinois. Constructed on land leased from the US Army Corps of Engineers, the park overlooks the 19,000-acre Rend Lake Reservoir. With more than 3,300 acres in which to roam, visitors will find a wide range of activities all year long.
The Wayne Fitzgerrell State Park includes access to Rend Lake. The state of Illinois and the US Army Corps of Engineers jointly manage the lake. Eight boat ramps within the Rend Lake State Fish and Wildlife Area are available for public access, with an additional five ramps that are available seasonally for waterfowl hunting. Rend Lake is relatively shallow, averaging under ten feet deep. Due to the shallow nature of the lake, boaters should use caution when navigating the lake. Submerged and exposed stumps require constant vigilance. Paddleboats, kayaks, and canoes provide the best opportunity to relax and enjoy the beauty of Rend Lake.
Rend Lake provides some of the state’s best commercial and sport fishing. With seventy-five percent of the Wayne Fitzgerrell State Park’s border is comprised of shoreline, anglers have ample space to cast their line. White and black crappie, channel catfish, flathead catfish, largemouth bass, bluegill and hybrid striped bass abound in the shallow waters of the lake. The Department of Natural Resources stocks the lake, ensuring that the fishing experience at Rend Lake is second to none. Because of the excellent fishing, Rend Lake hosts several fishing tournaments each year, attracting anglers from across the state and across the country. USA Bassin, American Bass Anglers, Bass Pro Shop, and the Illinois Bowfishers all host fishing tournaments at Rend Lake throughout the fishing season. Rend Lake also conducts a commercial fishing program each winter that enables visitors to purchase fresh carp, buffalo, and other species.
Approximately one thousand acres of the Wayne Fitzgerrell State Park are reserved for hunting, wildlife observation, hiking, and other activities. As part of the park’s overall wildlife management program, game officials open the park for game and deer hunting. Deer hunters may use a bow and arrows to pursue their game. The park office provides other specific regulations regarding hunting within the park’s boundaries. The park also sponsors a controlled pheasant hunt each fall. More than one hundred hunters per day participate in this event. For a hunter’s four-legged companion, Wayne Fitzgerrell State Park conducts sporting dog field trailing programs. Beagles, retrievers, bird dogs, and other hunting companions compete for regional and national honors at one of the site’s many annual competitions.
Many species of wildlife call the Wayne Fitzgerrell State Park home. Bird watching enthusiasts may catch sight of American bald eagle, blue heron, ring-necked pheasants, and red-tailed hawk in the upper portions of the park. Closer to the lake, visitors regularly spot shorebirds and waterfowl.
The former farmland that comprises the Wayne Fitzgerrell State Park provides a haven for a variety of mammals. Fencerows, cleared farmland, and small oak-hickory woodlands offer food and shelter to white-tailed deer, squirrel, opossum, and raccoon make their home among the trees.
The Wayne Fitzgerrell State Park contains forty campsites for hearty visitors who want to experience outdoor living to the fullest. For visitors who prefer a few more amenities, the park contains two hundred and forty-three sites that offer hook-ups for recreational vehicles. These sites include sanitary facilities and showers.
For visitors who prefer to experience nature during the day and luxury after the day’s activities, The Rend Lake Resort and Conference Center is the perfect option. The resort is open year-round, providing a stunning background for vacationers, business travelers, weddings, and conferences. The Marina at the resort has three boat launch ramps and over one hundred boat slips. Visitors can experience world-class golfing at the Rend Lake Golf Course. This public course features a lighted driving range and practice facility, a fully stocked pro shop, and twenty-seven holes of challenging golf. The Conference Center offers business travelers all of the modern conveniences of a luxury resort combined with the natural beauty of the surrounding state park.
For additional information regarding Wayne Fitzgerrell State Park, visit the park’s website at http://dnr.state.il.us/lands/landmgt/parks/r5/wayne.htm.