Brassua Lake, Maine, USA

Lake Locations:

USA - New England - Maine - Maine Highlands -

Also known as:  Little Brassua Lake-historic

Sprawling across almost 9,000 acres of the Maine Highlands Region, Brassua Lake is actually little known. The large reservoir was created in 1925 when a dam was built across the outlet on the lower Moose River to generate hydroelectric power. The dam raised water levels nearly 30 feet and caused two already sizeable lakes-Brassua and Little Brassua Lake-to merge into one. Most of the surrounding lands have been managed for timber resources for the past 100 years, leading to a near-wilderness setting with few lakeside cottages and a few sporting camps gracing the shoreline.

Located only five miles west of better-developed Moosehead Lake, Brassua Lake’s wide waters have delighted lucky cottagers and camp guests who have discovered this, one of Maine’s most scenic landscapes. One group that has increasingly enjoyed Brassua Lake’s abundance is fishermen; the lake supports a thriving cold-water fishery, producing brook trout, landlocked salmon and smelt. The salmon are stocked regularly, both here and in Moosehead Lake, providing for excellent fishing in the lakes and along Moose River which flows between the two. Only one developed boat ramp exists on the lake that is publicly accessible: the owners of the hydroelectric dam allow the public to utilize a ramp near the dam itself. Due to periodic drawdowns of the water level, vast areas of shallow water present themselves to shoreline fishing with waders and float tubes. Chub, cusk and sucker are also present, but the main angling targets are the trout and salmon, along with smelt in winter. All Maine fishing regulations apply, and fishermen must be properly licensed.

The lake is available for most water sports, but launching facilities for larger boats are limited. No marinas or commercial docking facilities exist on the lake, although that may change in the near future. After being owned and managed by Great Northern Paper Company for many years, about 5,673 acres on the east and west shorelines and islands within the lake have been sold to Moosehead Wildlands Inc. The new owners have submitted a plan which places some of these lands-about 20%-in conservation status forever. The other 4,117 acres are to be made accessible to the public for 20 years for use of a ‘to-be-developed’ trail system, hunting, horseback riding and outdoor enjoyment. A new development of private homes on a large peninsula along the eastern shore in being designed. Planned improvements include some commercial facilities, although the exact nature of these has not been disclosed.

The dam also has changed hands. In this rapidly-changing energy production industry, Kennebec Water Power Company sold Brassua Dam to Brookfield Renewable Energy, a group of investors who specialize in renewable energy production. Little information is available at present on what plans the company has for Brassua Dam’s hydroelectric production, but there is no indication that its current use will be altered. Until further notice, it is expected that the boat ramp is still public access.

In placing these wooded lands in public usage, Moosehead Wildlands is continuing the traditional use of these lands by the public for hiking, hunting, snowmobiling, cross-country skiing and fishing. The new designation simply adds to the large amount of publicly-accessible forest lands in the area, already heavily used by patrons of Moosehead Lake facilities. One of the main Interconnected Trail System snowmobile trails passes along the shoreline of Brassua Lake, joining other snowmobile trails in the network at nearby Greenville. The Moosehead Lake Region trails include the 150+ mile Moosehead Trail circling the lake. Hunting is a popular sport in the area in season as is wildlife viewing. Common to the area are moose, black bear, deer, red squirrel, beaver, porcupine, snowshoe hare, coyote and bobcat. Birds and waterfowl are numerous and often seen.

A few primitive campsites are available near the shoreline, some under the management of the solitary commercial sporting camp at Brassua Lake. The camp resort also rents lodge rooms, bungalows, camping cabins and yurts, along with RV spaces. More primitive campsites are planned by Moosehead Wildlands in their new development plans. No major roadways or easy-access locations will be added. Much access will still be via old logging roads. Limited access and sparse development is in keeping with what the few cottage owners along the shoreline find most attractive about their remote lake. A few of these property owners rent their facilities on short-term vacation rental basis and often include a canoe or small boat for vacationers’ use. Many of these properties include a small swimming beach and feature a fire ring for evening campfires while listening to the night sounds of the northern wilderness.

Brassua is unique as a place name. A 1905 United States Geological Survey publication called “The Origin of Certain Place Names in The United States” lists this as the only reference to the place name Brassua. The name is reported to have been the name of an Indian chief and means straightforward or ‘frank’. And cottage owners and visitors won’t hesitate to tell you what they love about Brassua Lake. Besides the scenic beauty of the lake itself and its numerous wildlife, there are other nearby attractions that can be accessed within an hour or so by car. Steamship SS Katahdin offers lake cruises in Moosehead Lake all summer, and hiking on Mt. Kineo and Borestone Mountain will keep the physically-fit coming back for more. Cross-county skiing, snowshoeing and nature photography add to the enjoyment of this pristine area.

Although there are limited forms of lodgings available at Brassua Lake, nearby Rockwood offers some motels and eating establishments, while Greenville at the south end of Moosehead Lake holds all sorts of places to stay, including hotels, cottages, guest houses and bed & breakfasts. All types of outdoor outfitters can be found in the region, and sporting goods, including snowmobiles, may be rented. So, bring your outdoor provisions of choice, including binoculars and hiking boots. The longer you stay, the more you’ll find to do and experience at Brassua Lake.

*The size of Brassua Lake varies in documents between 8,979 acres and 9,454 acres. This may be the surface area at both high water and low water levels.

Things to do at Brassua Lake

  • Vacation Rentals
  • Fishing
  • Boating
  • Swimming
  • Beach
  • Canoeing
  • Tubing
  • Camping
  • Cabin Rentals
  • Hiking
  • Cross-Country Skiing
  • Snowmobiling
  • Snowshoeing
  • Horseback Riding
  • Hunting
  • Wildlife Viewing
  • Birding

Fish species found at Brassua Lake

  • Brook Trout
  • Carp
  • Cusk
  • Salmon
  • Smelt
  • Sucker
  • Trout

Brassua Lake Photo Gallery

Brassua Lake Statistics & Helpful Links

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Lake Type: Natural Freshwater Lake, Dammed

Water Level Control: Brookfield Renewable Power

Surface Area: 8,979 acres

Shoreline Length: 74 miles

Minimum Elevation (Min Pond): 0 feet

Maximum Elevation (Max Pond): 1,073 feet

Average Depth: 30 feet

Maximum Depth: 65 feet

Water Residence Time: 21 weeks

Drainage Area: 708 sq. miles

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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