The Village of New Athens is located within one of the largest state owned and managed sites in the State of Illinois. The Kaskaskia River State Fish and Wildlife Area (KRFWA) comprises more than 20,000 acres and completely surrounds the Village of New Athens.
The Kaskaskia River consist of over 40 miles of channelized waterway for power boating and countless streams and oxbows of no wake for the fisherman. Access to the Mississippi River may be gained by locking through the lock and dam 28 miles downstream.
The channelized portion of the river provides the ideal water for power boating and water skiing. All of the oxbows and backwater areas of the river are designated no wake and are ideal settings for the fisherman. Species include channel catfish, flathead catfish, largemouth bass, crappie, bluegill, carp, and freshwater drum. All exist in good numbers and provide excellent fishing throughout the year.
The KRFWA includes over 16,000 acres of bottomland forest, providing an ideal habitat for forest game species such as squirrel and white-tail deer. The extensive wetland areas associated with the river provide ample opportunities for waterfowl hunting.
Baldwin Lake, a 2,018-acre reservoir built by Illinois Power Company, is contained within KRFWA. This lake serves as a source of cooling water in operating a nearby electric generating station. Baldwin Lake is open to the public for fishing and is a major part of the area’s waterfowl refuge.
Southwestern Illinois, which includes KRFWA, has traditionally been rich in fish and wildlife resources. This is evident by its occupation by both American Indians and early settlers to the state. The Kaskaskia River remained essentially unchanged until the late 1960s when it was modified by channelization to promote commercial development and navigation. This led to eventual state ownership of the site and increased the public use of the area.
Concrete launch ramps are provided on the Kaskaskia River at Fayetteville, New Athens, on Highway 154 west of Baldwin, and at Evansville. “No-wake” zones exist near the ramps and industrial sites. Also, all of the oxbows have been designated as “no-wake” zones and boaters must operate their watercraft accordingly in these areas.
Weekends and holidays throughout the summer receive the most boat usage and boaters are urged to be extra safety conscious during this time. Boaters should also be aware of barge traffic on the river and at lock and dam site at the mouth of the river.
Purchase Fishing License – illinois.gov