Outdoor recreation enthusiasts interested in water sports, horseback riding, picnicking or hiking will find that Wayne Fitzgerrell State Recreation Area has plenty to offer. The site also provides ample opportunities for birders, wildlife observers and photographers, fishing tournaments, pleasure boaters, water skiers and anglers.
Overlooking the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers' 19,000-acre Rend Lake Reservoir, Wayne Fitzgerrell SRA is a gateway to Southern Illinois' biggest outdoor playground - a paradise for outdoor recreation for all ages and interests. The park offers outstanding opportunities for hunting, fishing, camping, picnicking, horseback riding, hiking and other outdoor recreational pursuits.
Rend Lake is well-known as an outstanding sport fishery for white and black crappie, particularly in the early spring, as well as excellent fishing for largemouth bass, channel catfish and bluegill. Seasonal hunting programs attract thousands of hunters annually to Wayne Fitzgerrell SRA, which is also a popular destination for sporting dog training field trials.
Birders visiting the area have an excellent chance of seeing great blue heron, American bald eagle, red-tailed hawk and a variety of shorebirds and waterfowl. The resident population of ring-necked pheasants that Wayne Fitzgerrell supports is unique in southern Illinois. White-tailed deer, raccoon, opossum and squirrel are among the mammals wildlife enthusiasts are likely to see.
Wayne Fitzgerrell State Recreation Area, with its excellent camping, lodging and boat launch facilities, is a great headquarters for anglers using Rend Lake. Since 75 percent of the park’s boundary is Rend Lake shoreline, the site provides outstanding bank fishing opportunities.
Rend Lake is well-known as an outstanding sport fishery for white and black crappie, particularly in the early spring, as well as excellent fishing for largemouth bass, channel catfish and bluegill. As a result of the IDNR stocking program, the lake is one of the few southern Illinois locations to have a noteworthy white bass fishery. Current state records for bowfin and black crappie were taken from Rend Lake.
Upland game hunters flock to Wayne Fitzgerrell each fall to participate in a controlled pheasant hunt accommodating up to 120 hunters a day.
When game populations warrant, the site hosts hunting programs for upland game and deer. While no waterfowl hunting takes place at Wayne Fitzgerrell, the site is a popular location where waterfowlers can camp or rent a room for their hunting trip.
Wayne Fitzgerrell is noted for its extensive sporting dog field trial programs. The site annually hosts more than 25 field trialing events, in which some of the best trained beagles, retrievers and bird dogs compete for regional and national honors. Many of the competitions are equestrian trials, with dog handlers and observers following the action from horseback.
Wayne Fitzgerrell has 17 tent sites to accommodate primitive campers who relish a rustic outdoor experience. Those who want a few more amenities will want to take advantage of the 243 modern campsites, which offer electrical hookups and sanitary facilities. Three shower buildings are available for campers.
Campers should register with the Campground Host upon arrival. The fee for camping is $20 per night for sites with electricity, or $6 per night for a primitive site. There is an additional $10 fee added to the camping fee during the Memorial Day, July 4th (if the holiday falls on a Fri, Sat, Sun or Monday), and Labor Day holidays. The campground remains available on a first-come, first-served basis which gives everyone equal opportunity for campsites.
For horseback riders, a 9-mile bridle trail encircles the wildlife/field trial area, and opportunities to see and photograph wildlife abound. The trail is open to all equestrians for most of the year. From Sept. 15 to April 15, the bridle trail is closed during the hunting and designated field trial seasons.
With more than 150 picnicking sites situated throughout the park, Wayne Fitzgerrell visitors should have little problem finding the perfect spot for a summertime picnic. There are three major picnic areas and several small areas equipped with shelters, tables, fireplaces and playground equipment. Reservations are accepted at four of the five shelters. Shelter 1 in the south picnic area, and Shelters 2 and 3 in the north area offer a protected cove for the convenience of boaters looking for a picnicking spot. Shelter 4, located in the County Line Picnic Area, is the largest shelter in the park. This shelter has a nice shaded setting, is handicapped accessible and has electricity and water with a large fireplace for cooking.
Hiking & Biking
For hikers and bikers, a newly constructed 4-mile hiking/biking trail is in place which runs from the day use areas through the campgrounds to Rend Lake Resort, and then connects to the Rend Lake College Bike Trail.