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Willow Slough Fish & Wildlife Area

Address
Mailing:
6312 W. 100 N.
Morocco, IN 47963

Mapping:
1803 S. 700 W.
Morocco, IN 47963

Link to this page
on.IN.gov/willowsloughfwa

Admission
Free

Time zone
Central

Office hours
Monday – Friday, 7:30 a.m. - 11:30 a.m. & noon - 3:30 p.m. CT

Property hours
24/7. Some activities may have specific open times, especially if there is a draw. Please call property for questions at 219-285-2704.


Description

Willow Slough Fish & Wildlife Area provides quality outdoor recreational opportunities and a wide array of habitat types for countless plant and animal species. At the center of the property is the J.C. Murphey Lake and wetland complex. The lake comprises more than 1,200 acres and draws in thousands of waterfowl each year. It is undergoing renovation. The lake also provides quality fishing opportunities. Rolling dunes, oak savanna, and forest surround the lake.

Willow Slough began with the purchase of 7,800 acres in 1949 and is 9,956 acres today. J.C. Murphey Lake was completed in 1951. Parts of Willow Slough were formerly grazed, hayed, and cultivated. A railroad once ran through the property, and portions of an old station can be found in the area.

Most revenues used in land acquisition, development, operation, and maintenance of Willow Slough FWA are derived from the sale of hunting, fishing, and trapping licenses. Funds are also received from the federal Pittman-Robertson and Dingell-Johnson programs to aid fish and wildlife restoration. These funds are from taxes on sport hunting, shooting, and fishing equipment. Indiana hunters and anglers are proud to provide this property for the enjoyment of all people.

Kankakee Sands

Kankakee Sands is 8,400 acres of prairies and wetlands, owned and managed by the Indiana chapter of The Nature Conservancy, a non-profit organization working to create a world where people and nature can thrive.

In December 1996, The Nature Conservancy purchased 7,200 acres of agricultural ground in Newton County. At that time, the Division of Fish & Wildlife provided funding for the acquisition in exchange for the hunting rights on approximately 6,000 of the purchased acres. Hunting rights are administered through Willow Slough FWA. All grounds maintenance and habitat work are performed by TNC staff. View hunting information.

  • Amenities

    Modern public restrooms:

    • Headquarters (open 24 hours)
    • Shooting range (open during range hours)
    • Campground (open 24 hours). Campground restrooms available approximately April-October.

Popular activities

  • Fishing
    • Willow Slough FWA provides 1,000 acres of available fishing and kayaking at J.C. Murphey Lake and its numerous ponds.
    • Primary species include bass, bluegill, channel catfish, redear, and crappie.
    • There are no fees for the lake.
    • Boat ramps are provided near the headquarters. This is the only area where boats, kayaks, and paddle boards may be launched.
    • Anyone in a boat, kayak, or on a paddle board must be in possession of a wearable personal flotation device while on the water.
    • Lake access for fishing, boating, or kayaking is not allowed beginning at midnight five days prior to any waterfowl hunting season, including the early teal and goose season. Ask at the headquarters for details.
    • Electric motors only. No outboard motors are allowed.
    • Shoreline fishing is available only on designated piers and below the picnic area. It is not allowed along Patrol Road or Filbert Lane.
    • Pond anglers must park in designated lots.
    • Fishing areas accessible to people with disabilities are available. Ask at headquarters for details.
    • Ice fishing is available when waterfowl seasons are suspended due to unfavorable hunting conditions. Ask at headquarters for details.
    • When ice fishing is allowed, the Mormon Hill and Filbert Lane access points will be opened after deer muzzleloader season has ended. Access points may be closed as ice or road conditions change.
    • J.C. Murphey Lake Map
  • Hunting

    Deer

    • Deer tree stands and ground blinds may be used and left unattended from noon, Sept. 15 through Jan. 10. Tree stands and ground blinds must be legibly marked in English with either the owner's DNR customer identification number or the owner’s name, address, and telephone number.
    • A fastener used in conjunction with a tree stand and a tree or pole climber that penetrates a tree more than ½ inch is prohibited (e.g., screw-in steps and screw-in bow and gun hangers).

    Turkey

    • Advance registration is required for wild turkey hunting.
    • Reserve hunters and stand-by hunters must be signed in before the assigned draw time of 4:30 a.m. CT.
    • A total of 18 hunters are allowed in the field at Willow Slough FWA.
    • Hunters must quit hunting at noon and be out of the field by 1 p.m. CT.

    Upland game (dove, quail, pheasant, rabbit, put-and-take pheasant)

    • Advance registration is required for the first two days of the September dove season.
    • Reserve hunters and stand-by hunters must be signed in before the assigned draw time.
      • Dove – 11 a.m. CT.
      • Put-and-take pheasant hunt day sign-in begins at 8 a.m. CT.
      • Hunters may enter the field at 9 a.m. CT.
    • Put-and-take pheasant hunting online sign-up starts in September. Hunters can register on the reserved hunt page.

    Waterfowl

    • Due to drought and lake renovations at Willow Slough, waterfowl hunting will be suspended on the property until further notice. When conditions are more favorable, waterfowl hunts will resume. We appreciate your understanding.
    • During waterfowl season, daily drawings begin at 4:30 a.m. CT. See waterfowl hunting rules for details.
    • Advance registration is required for some waterfowl season dates.
    • Reserve hunters and stand-by hunters must be signed in before the assigned draw time of 4:30 a.m. CT.
    • Electric motors only. No outboard motors are allowed.
    • 2022/2023 Waterfowl:

    Kankakee Sands

    • The Division of Fish & Wildlife manages hunting on this adjacent property.
  • Shooting range
    • Range types include pistol, rifle, shotgun, and archery.
    • Check-in is required with the Range Safety Officer.
    • A fee is accessed to use the range. Fees are $7/hour per lane for the first person and $5/hour for each additional shooter (up to three additional).
    • A sales area and restrooms are available.
    • A motorized lift is available for people with disabilities at the archery range.
    • Hours of operation:
      • March – November: 8 a.m. – 4 p.m. CT Wednesday – Sunday
      • December – February: 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. CT Friday – Sunday
      • Closed: Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Eve, Christmas Day
    • See the Fish & Wildlife Area Shooting Range's webpage for more details.
  • Trapping
    • The trapping draw is held the first Saturday in October at 10 a.m. CT.
    • Portions of the property being dry land trapped (typically Oct. 15-31) are marked with blue signage in the area parking lots.
  • Wildlife watching & birding
    • Wetlands, savanna, forest, and high sandy hills that total 9,000 acres surround the 1,000-acre J.C. Murphey Lake. This area attracts a wide variety of waterfowl, shorebirds, raptors, and songbirds.
    • During the early spring, thousands of waterfowl and large flocks of American white pelicans can be seen on the property. The pelicans usually stay for a couple of months.
    • Other common sightings include white-tail deer, wild turkey, turtles, frogs, hawks, and other wildlife.

    This property is a stop on the
    Indiana Birding Trail Logo

More activities

  • Biking
    • Bicycling is allowed on all paved and gravel roads that are open to vehicle travel.
    • A 20-mile paved loop trail is available around Willow Slough FWA.
    • There are no mountain bike trails and off-road travel is prohibited.
  • Camping
    • Willow Slough FWA provides primitive camping on a first-come, first-served basis.
    • Flush toilets are available.
    • Water at spigots is available approximately April-October.
    • For details on camping fees and amenities, call the property office at 219-285-2704.
  • Dog running
    • A dog running and training area is provided in Area 9 (see map).
    • Dogs must be always leashed outside of the dog running and training area unless being used by a registered hunter in the pursuit of game.
    • Only service dogs are allowed inside buildings.
    • Sign-in is required, and a miscellaneous card must be obtained.
    • Portions of the property being dry land trapped (typically Oct. 15-31) are marked with blue signage in the area parking lots.
  • Foraging
    • Mushrooms, berries, and nuts may be gathered; however, a written permit is required to remove plants, animals, rocks, and fossils.
    • All property users must sign in and obtain a one-day miscellaneous card.
    • Please note that during spring turkey season, no other visitors are allowed on the property until after noon CT. Please call the office for dates and any questions.
  • Hiking & walking
    • Visitors are encouraged to hike, explore, and enjoy Willow Slough.
    • Five marked hiking trails are available
      • Ten Mile Trail (moderate grade) – begins at the headquarters building. Consists of a 10-mile loop around J.C. Murphey Lake. The trail has some seasonal moist portions.
      • Lake Overlook Trail (moderate grade) – begins at the headquarters building. Consists of a 0.75-mile trail to the higher dunes overlooking J.C. Murphey Lake.
      • Lupine Trail (moderate grade) – begins in the 6A parking lot. Consists of a 0.75-mile line with Wild Lupine in the springtime. It ends at the higher dunes overlooking J.C. Murphey Lake.
      • Oak Savanna Loop Trails (gentle grade) – both begin in the Area 14 parking lot. Consists of two loop trails, 1.5 mile, and 2.5-mile, that traverse through an oak savanna restoration.
    • Access lanes are mowed a few times a year and are available for a more backcountry hiking experience.
  • Picnicking
    • An area is set aside near the headquarters building for picnicking.
    • Numerous picnic tables (some with shade canopies), a shelter house, charcoal grills, and communal fire rings are available on a first-come, first-served basis.
    • Picnicking can occur throughout the property, but please leave no trace.
  • Water recreation
    • There are no fees at the lake.
    • Swimming is not allowed in any water body at Willow Slough FWA.
    • Kayaking, canoeing, and paddleboarding are permitted at J.C. Murphey Lake.
    • Boat ramps are provided near the headquarters. This is the only area where boats, kayaks, and paddle boards may be launched.
    • Anyone in a boat, kayak, or on a paddle board must be in possession of a wearable personal floatation device while on the water.
    • Lake access for water recreation is not allowed beginning five days prior to any waterfowl hunting season, including the early teal and goose season. Ask at the headquarters for details.
    • The lake is undergoing renovation
  • Volunteering
    • Need a reason to get outside and move? You can volunteer alone or in small groups at this property. Some possible opportunities are listed below:
      • Pollinator flower bed attendant(s) – help maintain the flower beds around the headquarters building. Activities could include mulching, weeding, watering, and seed collection.
      • Wildlife survey support – assist staff with fall quail covey counts, pheasant crowing surveys, marsh bird surveys, bird observations, and more.
      • Property photographer – help document what makes Willow Slough FWA unique, from plants and animals to the people that use it.
      • Skilled labor- If you are a carpenter, electrician, plumber, welder, or have other specialized skills, there is likely a time you could assist us with projects.
      • Land stewards – help maintain a portion of the property that you enjoy utilizing. Projects could include invasive species treatment/removal, seeding wildflowers, maintenance of trails, mowing, maintaining signage, etc.

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