Austin Lake, Michigan, USA

Lake Locations:

USA - Midwest - Michigan - Southwest -

Sitting on a frozen lake, clutching a thermos of hot chocolate in mitten-clad hands, and hovering over a hole in the ice is not everyone’s idea of fishing. For those hardy souls that live in Michigan and those that visit the land of the Great Lakes, however, ice fishing can be one of winter’s true pleasures. Pulling strings of panfish out of the icy water is just one of the things that make Austin Lake in Southwest Michigan a year-round destination.

It is fitting that ice is one of the things that draws people to Austin Lake because the lake was created by ice. Austin Lake is a shallow natural lake, left over after the glaciers receded about 10,000 years ago. In fact, with a maximum depth of just 11 feet it should be too shallow to support winter populations of fish. The inflow of water from Long Lake and the outflow through Portage Creek keeps the water moving and is what has made Austin Lake a popular winter fishery. The lake is also a favorite with anglers in other seasons, and has a reputation as an exceptional largemouth bass fishery. In the past, the Michigan Department of Natural Resources has stocked Austin Lake with muskie and northern pike, and there are healthy populations of yellow perch, bluegill, and black crappie.

Public access to Austin Lake is by a boat launch ramp maintained by the Park and Recreation Bureau. There is a small fee, and the ramp is closed between 11 p.m. and 4 a.m. Lakeview Park in the City of Portage has shoreline access and fishing piers. The 24-acre park also has a playground, ball fields and places to picnic. With almost 1,100 acres of water, there is room for all kinds of boating on Austin Lake including canoeing, sailing, jet skiing and water skiing. A very active catamaran club holds regattas throughout the season.

Austin Lake is named for the Austin family that settled on the lake’s north shore in 1833, and there is evidence of human inhabitants as far back as the lake’s formation. Although it is a natural lake, Austin Lake has been altered several times in the past. The lake was dammed on Portage Creek in 1918. It was also dammed in 1958 and a more recent dam underwent repairs to avert a potential dam failure and flood. Long Lake drains into Austin Lake, and in 1925 the water levels of Long, West and Austin Lake were legally set to the same level. Austin Lake is under the control of the Kalamazoo County Drain Commissioner.

There is significant residential development along with vacation rentals around Austin Lake, and real estate for sale includes some very nice lakefront homes. The lake borders the City of Portage and is just south of Kalamazoo. As a result, visitors have easy access to all the amenities of a large city, and commuters can work in the city and live on the beautiful water of Austin Lake.

Portage, along the north shore of Austin Lake, was historically known as the “Celery Capital of the World.” The area was settled by Dutch immigrants known as the “Celery Dutch” in 1860. The marshland was planted with celery, which was the area’s primary crop from 1890 through the 1930’s. Today, visitors can tour the Celery Flats Historical Area, which has celery fields and several historical buildings. There are also canoe and bike surrey rentals so visitors can tour the area from the Celery Flats along Portage Creek.

An easy drive from Austin Lake, the Fort Custer Recreation Area is between Battle Creek and Kalamazoo. The 3,033-acre area started as Camp Custer, a military training center used by the US Army during World War II. The recreation area has campgrounds and over 25 miles of trails for hiking, biking and horseback riding. In the winter there is cross country skiing and dog sledding.

Regardless of the time of year, Austin Lake has earned its reputation as a great place to live and play.

Things to do at Austin Lake

  • Vacation Rentals
  • Fishing
  • Ice Fishing
  • Boating
  • Sailing
  • Canoeing
  • Jet Skiing
  • Water Skiing
  • Camping
  • Campground
  • Picnicking
  • Hiking
  • Biking
  • Cross-Country Skiing
  • Dog Sledding
  • Horseback Riding
  • Playground

Fish species found at Austin Lake

  • Bass
  • Black Bass
  • Black Crappie
  • Bluegill
  • Crappie
  • Largemouth Bass
  • Muskellunge
  • Northern Pike
  • Perch
  • Pike
  • Sunfish
  • Yellow Perch

Austin Lake Photo Gallery

Austin Lake Statistics & Helpful Links

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Lake Type: Natural Freshwater Lake, Dammed

Water Level Control: Kalamazoo County Drain Commissioner

Surface Area: 1,090 acres

Normal Elevation (Full Pond): 853 feet

Maximum Depth: 11 feet

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Trophic State | LakeLubbers

Trophic State measures the level of algae and nutrients in a lake.

An oligotrophic lake is very clear (blue in color) and does not support much plant or fish life. A hyper-oligotrophic lake is the clearest of all lakes, and is nearly devoid of plants and fish.

A mesotrophic lake is slightly green and supports a moderate degree of plant and fish life. A lake's most desired trophic state is generally this mid-point - the mesotrophic state.

A eutrophic lake is somewhat murky and supports a large amount of plant and fish life. A hypereutrophic lake is clouded with algae, plant life, and fish life. A eutrophic or hyper-eutrophic lake can be difficult to navigate by boat - and is often an unpleasant place to swim.

The use of phosphorus-rich and nitrogen-rich fertilizer on lawns and golf courses surrounding a lake can cause it to become eutrophic or hypereutrophic.


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Catchment or Drainage Area | LakeLubbers

This is the surrounding area that drains into a lake, including land, rivers and their tributaries. This is also known as the lake's "catchment basin".

Small lakes at the highest peaks of mountains have small drainage areas. The world's oceans have the largest drainage areas.


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Lake-Area Population | LakeLubbers

This is the estimated number of people who live in a house with a view of a lake, plus those who self-describe the lake as their home, for example: "I live at Smith Mountain Lake."


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Water Residence Time | LakeLubbers

This is the estimated time that it takes for an amount of water equal to the entire volume of a lake to flow out of - or evaporate from - the lake.

Residence Time can be as short as a few days for fast-flowing small lakes, and can exceed 100 years for slow-flowing large lakes.


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Completion Year | LakeLubbers

This is the year that a reservoir was first filled to the reservoir's normal elevation - or the year that a natural lake was first dammed. A large reservoir can take more than a year to fill after its dam is first closed.

The Grand Anicut in southern India is generally considered the world's oldest dam that still operates. Grand Anicut was constructed in the second century BC. It now impounds an irrigation network that includes roughly one million acres.

You can find many of the the world's newest reservoirs on LakeLubbers. Many of the world's oldest reservoirs appear on the last page of that list.


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Water Volume | LakeLubbers

This is the estimated volume of water that a lake contains -- measured at the lake's normal elevation. By this measure, the world's largest freshwater lake is Siberia's Lake Baikal.

You can find many of the the world's largest lakes (by water volume) on LakeLubbers.

Water Volume can be measured in acre-feet, in cubic miles, or in cubic kilometers. One acre-foot is the amount of water needed to cover one acre (43,560 square feet) to a depth of one foot. One cubic mile equals 3,379,200 acre-feet. One cubic kilometer equals 810,713 acre-feet.

1 acre-foot is equal to 325,851 US gallons. Siberia's Lake Baikal contains about 6,276,367,740,000,000 gallons of freshwater - nearly 1 million gallons for every living person on earth.

The other - and more widely used - measure of a lake's size is the lake's surface acreage. By that measure, the world's largest freshwater lake is North America's Lake Superior.


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Maximum Depth | LakeLubbers

This is the estimated greatest depth of the water in a lake -- measured at the lake's normal elevation. The world's deepest lake is Siberia's Lake Baikal; that lake's maximum depth is estimated at 5,314 feet.

You can find many of the the world's deepest lakes on LakeLubbers. If you select the last page of that list, you will find the (maximum depth of) the shallowest lakes in our database.


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Average Depth | LakeLubbers

This is the estimated average depth of the water in a lake -- measured at the lake's normal elevation. If the water volume and surface area of a lake are known, an estimate of the lake's average depth can be calculated:

Water volume ÷ Surface Area = Average Depth

Example: 1,000,000 acre-feet ÷ 20,000 acres = 50 feet average depth


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Maximum Elevation | LakeLubbers

This is a lake's highest water level, measured by the lake's surface distance above sea level, that can occur during flooding. A lake's highest possible maximum elevation is usually the top of the lake's dam or spillway.

At lakes that include residential development, government regulations usually forbid the construction of homes below a lake's maximum elevation.


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Minimum Elevation | LakeLubbers

This is a lake's lowest water level, measured by the lake's surface distance above sea level, that can be reasonably expected to occur. Low lake levels can occur due to deliberate seasonal draw downs for irrigation or impending snow melt, reduced water inflows, drought and evaporation, residential or commercial water demands, and hydropower generation.

Some lakes' minimum and maximum elevations are virtually the same. Lakes that generate hydropower may vary by several feet - according to power demand. Lakes whose primary purpose is to prevent flooding can seasonally vary by 100 feet or more.

When some lakes reach their minimum elevation, their boat ramps may not be long enough to permit boat access - and boats docked on shallow parts of the lake may end up on dry ground. In those cases, kayakers and shore-based anglers may be among the few happy recreational users of the lake.


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Normal Elevation | LakeLubbers

This is a lake's normal water level, measured by the lake's surface distance above sea level. For a reservoir, this water level is also known as "full pond" or "full pool".

You can find many of the world's highest-elevated lakes on LakeLubbers. Lakes with the lowest elevations (known by LakeLubbers) are shown on the final page of that list.


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Shoreline Length | LakeLubbers

This is the length of the exterior shoreline around a lake - measured at the lake's normal elevation. The shoreline length can be considerably shorter or longer when lake water levels are lower or higher than normal.

A lake with many coves has a much longer shoreline than a lake of similar surface area that is nearly circular in shape.

When known, the shoreline miles that we report in our statistics include only the lake's exterior shoreline, and exclude the shorelines of islands located within a lake's boundaries. In lakes with many islands, those islands' combined shorelines may exceed a lake's exterior shoreline.

You can find many of the world's longest-shoreline lakes on Lakelubbers.


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Surface Area | LakeLubbers

This is the area (acreage, square kilometers, etc.) of the top surface area of a lake - measured at a lake's normal elevation. The surface area can be considerably smaller or larger when lake levels are lower or higher than normal. North America's Lake Superior is the world's largest freshwater lake by this measure.

The other measure of a lake's size is the lake's water volume. By that measure, the world's largest freshwater lake is Lake Baikal in Siberia.

You can find many of the world's largest lakes (acres) on Lakelubbers. There is no widely-accepted minimum surface area that defines a lake. What Lakelubbers describes as a lake, you might call a pond. The smallest lake that Lakelubbers currently includes is Hawaii's 2-acre Lake Waiau.


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Water Level Control | LakeLubbers

This is the organization that controls water releases or outflows from the lake or reservoir. In the USA, this is often the US Army Corps of Engineers, a power company, a municipal water system, an irrigation district, or a paper manufacturing company. In the case of private or gated lakes, a homeowners' association may be the lake's controlling authority.

Many lakes cross borders, including North America's Great Lakes. The control of such lakes and their coveted freshwater may be amicably shared - or hotly disputed.

"Water wars" continue at many lakes as growing populations and crop irrigation needs compete for the freshwater that lakes contain.


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Lake Type | LakeLubbers

There are 3 basic types of lakes that are currently included on LakeLubbers. 2 types may be dammed or not dammed, producing 5 classifications.

- A Reservoir is a man-made freshwater lake that is usually created by damming rivers.

- A Natural Freshwater Lake occurs naturally - often by glacial activity - and has a salinity of less than 30 parts per thousand. It may be dammed to produce electricity or for other reasons.

- A Natural Saltwater Lake occurs naturally and has a salinity of more than 30 parts per thousand (ppt). It may be dammed.

"Brackish" water may be categorized as freshwater or saltwater, depending on its salt content (salinity). Oligohaline water has less than 15 ppt of salt. Mesohaline water has 15-29 ppt. Polyhaline has 30-335 ppt.


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