Big Trout Lake, Minnesota, USA

Lake Locations:

USA - Midwest - Minnesota - Central -

One of the prettiest places to watch the sun rise in Central Minnesota is Big Trout Lake. This popular lake on the Whitefish Chain of Lakes is wonderfully clear and deep, lined with trees and home to many lovely lake homes. Other lakes on the chain have more public access and are more crowded. Big Trout Lake is at the end of the chain, connected only to Lower Whitefish Lake by a short channel. This lovely lake has become an increasingly desirable place to build that ultimate northwoods lake house and an enviable address to possess. Two resorts and two youth camps still share the shoreline, but most is in private hands. Careful management and attention to aesthetics makes the shoreline pleasant and natural except for the private docks extending from sandy beaches.

Big Trout Lake is favored by water skiers, tubers, canoeists, kayakers, pontoon boaters and the occasional sailor. Fishermen access the water either through the channel or from the boat launch maintained by the US Army Corps of Engineers just off the road at the east end of the lake. There are no marinas on Big Trout Lake, but one of the resorts rents boats to their guests. The margins of the lake are shallow, and a sandy bottom makes for excellent swimming.

Fishing is one of the main reasons visiting boats arrive at Big Trout Lake. The Department of Natural Resources (DNR) regularly stocks the lake with lake trout. Other fish caught include black crappie, bluegill, green sunfish, hybrid sunfish, largemouth bass, northern pike, pumpkinseed, rock bass, smallmouth bass, tullibee (cisco), walleye and yellow perch. The sunfish and bluegill tend to be on the small side, likely because so many larger predator-fish feed on them. Walleye are not stocked directly into Big trout Lake, but are stocked in connecting Lower Whitefish Lake and easily make their way through the channel.

Water levels on the Whitefish Chain are controlled by the Pine River Dam at the end of the chain. When the dam was built on 1886 in an attempt to regulate flows to the Mississippi River, it raised water levels about ten feet, connecting the previously unconnected lakes. In winter, the Army Corps of Engineers draws down the lakes an average of more than a foot to protect the shoreline from ice damage. And, when the ice forms, ice fishermen show up to spend long and rewarding hours seeking the elusive pike gliding beneath their hole in the ice. Winter brings snowmobilers to ride the nearly 1200 miles of groomed trails throughout the Brainerd area. One of the connecting trails passes Big Trout Lake. The trails also attract people who enjoy cross-country skiing and snowshoeing and are often used for hiking in the warmer months. With so many lakes large and small close together, there is often a winter festival of some kind going on most winter weekends. Winter here is nearly as busy as summer, just filled with different activities.

The local Whitefish Area Property Owners Association holds regular annual events to raise money to improve walleye fishing, because they are a favorite among visiting anglers. The Association membership plans special events, such as the annual Harvest Dinner, which features a produce market managed by local farmers from the area. Another popular event that draws participants from all over the area is the 5K Grandpa’s Run for the Walleye which is getting more popular by the year. The Property Owners Association works to improve water quality in area lakes, educate property owners as to best practices for healthy shorelines, and teaches people about the dangers of invasive species which may be carried in by watercraft. Although some of the lakes in the chain have been identified as holding the dreaded zebra mussel, Big Trout Lake has so far only been invaded by Curly Pondweed, a far less damaging interloper.

The entire Whitefish Chain of Lakes is a desirable vacation destination, particularly if there are anglers in the family. Brainerd is 30 miles to the south of Big Trout Lake, and the small city of Crosslake is only two miles away. The Brainerd area expends great effort to make sure that visitors have everything they need to enjoy their time in the area. Although there are no campgrounds on Big Trout Lake, one is located near Crosslake. Other RV camps are nearby. Crosslake also holds the community center where many Association events are held. Two golf courses nearby assure even the most golf-attached vacationer can get in a few rounds during a week’s stay.

All of the lakes near Big Trout Lake hold a resort or two which vary from luxury resorts featuring fine dining and beautiful suites to rustic cabins with a feel of the old-north summer cottage. Several bed-and-breakfasts, hotels, condos and townhouses join private lake house rentals in providing lodgings for all of these visitors to the area. A large tract of public land is protected within the boundaries of the Crow Wing State Forest stretching south from near Crosslake. Here, more camping, swimming, fishing, canoe routes, boat launches and hiking trails give visitors access to a wide swath of this unique lake country, including the Pine River and the Mississippi River.

The advantages offered in the Big Trout Lake area are so inviting that many wish to purchase real estate here after a visit. Although a few older cottages can be found, most are purchased and replaced with more elaborate housing. Single-family homes and townhomes are available for sale with lakefront views or water access. Visit soon, and come watch the sunrise.

Things to do at Big Trout Lake

  • Vacation Rentals
  • Fishing
  • Boating
  • Sailing
  • Swimming
  • Beach
  • Canoeing
  • Kayaking
  • Water Skiing
  • Golf
  • Camping
  • Campground
  • Cabin Rentals
  • Hiking
  • Cross-Country Skiing
  • State Forest

Fish species found at Big Trout Lake

  • Bass
  • Black Bass
  • Black Crappie
  • Bluegill
  • Cisco
  • Crappie
  • Lake Trout
  • Largemouth Bass
  • Northern Pike
  • Perch
  • Pike
  • Pumpkinseed
  • Smallmouth Bass
  • Sunfish
  • Trout
  • Walleye
  • Whitefish
  • Yellow Perch

Big Trout Lake Photo Gallery

  • Keskey Cabin Late May

Big Trout Lake Statistics & Helpful Links

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Lake Type: Natural Freshwater Lake, Dammed

Water Level Control: US Army Corps of Engineers

Surface Area: 1,363 acres

Shoreline Length: 9 miles

Normal Elevation (Full Pond): 1,230 feet

Average Depth: 48 feet

Maximum Depth: 128 feet

Completion Year: 1886

Trophic State: Mesotrophic

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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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