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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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. Find Hunter Fact Sheets for Mermet Lake and Sielbeck Forest at this link:http://www.dnr.illinois.gov/hunting/FactSheets/Pages/South.aspx