They’re grabbing their poles and bait. And packing their coolers, too.


That’s because it is almost time to go fishing on Newton Lake again.


Considered one of the best fishing lakes in Illinois, Newton Lake along with all state parks, fish and wildlife areas and recreations sites will reopen on Friday, May 29, Illinois Department of Natural Resources confirmed last week. Camping and concessions are open and normal park hours resume that day as well.


Fishing and outdoors lovers were happy to have Sam Parr State Park reopen earlier this month, but there was widespread disappointment that Newton Lake along with many other Illinois state parks remained closed due to restrictions against the spread of coronavirus. The closure of the parks ended with the state reopening plan moving to the next level, which also benefits many retail businesses and other activities shut down for several weeks due to the COVID-19 risk.


Fortunately, the huge lake in Jasper County is opening as the temperatures are inching up after unseasonably cool levels during May. And we hope the successive days of rainfall end, and not only for fishing and camping but also for farming, building projects and other necessary outdoor activities.


The much-maligned two-person limit per boat has ended as well. The limit is now 10 people for any boat that can safely hold that number. Social distancing is still recommended in camping and picnic areas, especially with many people heading to Newton Lake this weekend.


Book reservations now for campsites at many Illinois state parks, fish and wildlife areas and recreation areas for stays beginning Friday, May 29, 2020. For reservations, go online to www.reserveamerica.com.


If you’re planning on combining recreation with some visits to state historic sites in coming weeks be aware only select historic sites are opening on May 29. Those sites without outdoor acreage will remain closed until further notice. For additional information on the reopening of state sites, be sure to check the IDNR website at https://www2.illinois.gov/…/Pag…/ParksOpenDuringCoVID19.aspx.