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Mermet Lake State Fish and Wildlife Area

1812 Grinnell Road
Belknap, IL 62908

618-524-5577

Mermet Lake State Fish and Wildlife Area is an old cypress southern Illinois swamp managed as one of the state’s most outstanding waterfowl hunting locales.  While Mermet Lake was developed primarily for duck hunting, Canada, blue and snow geese frequent the area each winter.

The shallow lake also is a very productive fishing lake, featuring largemouth bass, channel catfish and most panfish (the lake is closed to fishing in November prior to waterfowl hunting seasons, reopening in January after hunting seasons conclude).

While Mermet Lake is a popular hunting and fishing destination, there are also hiking trails and picnic tables for site visitors.  Mermet Lake is also home to the Illinois Pro/Am National Archery Tournament in late June, one of the largest archery tournaments in the country.

The original acreage of what is now Mermet Lake SFWA was acquired by the State of Illinois in 1949 – and now totals 2,630 acres, including 690 acres of water.

Activities

One of the first major developments at Mermet was the 1962 construction of a system of levees creating a lake. The lake serves as a reservoir and a supply of water to temporarily flood two walk-in duck hunting areas and a duck hunting area with permanent blinds. These permanent blinds are allocated on a no-charge daily draw system. The water in the lake is dropped 2 feet each fall to accommodate duck hunters. After waterfowl season, water is returned to the lake, and due to a normal lack of rainfall run-off, a system of wells and pumps is used to return the lake to pool stage. One of the first major developments at Mermet was the 1962 construction of a system of levees creating a lake. The lake serves as a reservoir and a supply of water to temporarily flood two walk-in duck hunting areas and a duck hunting area with permanent blinds. These permanent blinds are allocated on a no-charge daily draw system. The water in the lake is dropped 2 feet each fall to accommodate duck hunters. After waterfowl season, water is returned to the lake, and due to a normal lack of rainfall run-off, a system of wells and pumps is used to return the lake to pool stage.
 
Picnicking
A few picnic tables with camp stoves are available, and there is one shelter with a group grill. Pit toilets are on the grounds. No drinking water is available. Camping is prohibited.
 
Fishing
The shallow lake features rip-rap, standing and fallen trees, depressions, lotus pads and stick-ups. The lake has largemouth bass, crappie, bluegill, sunfish, channel catfish, buffalo, carp, and other feeder and rough fish.
 
Hiking
The area has two trails. The nature preserve has a small half-mile interpretive trail with tree identification markers and a small boardwalk extending into the cypress swamp. Another nature area has a 1-mile interpretive trail with tree identification markers along the way.
 
Boating
The 452-acre lake, with a maximum depth of 12 feet, is a major attraction at the refuge. Private boats use the four launching ramps and motors up to 10 HP are permitted. Rental boats, paddles and life jackets are available from site staff.
 
Hunting
During waterfowl season, a check station is in operation and a daily drawing is held for the no-charge use of the 30 permanent blinds. Two flooded walk-in areas also are provided. Hunting for dove, deer, squirrel, rabbit and quail is permitted in designated area.

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