Cagles Mill Lake, Indiana, USA

Lake Locations:

USA - Midwest - Indiana - West -

Also known as:  Cagles Mill Reservoir, Cataract Lake

Cagles Mill Lake, also known as Cagles Mill Reservoir and Cataract Lake, is located half in Lieber State Recreation Area and half in Cataract Falls State Recreation Area. It is often referred to as Cataract Lake because of its location just outside of Cataract, Indiana. This 1,400 acre man-made lake is a popular recreation site and known for its waterfalls. The area surrounding Cagles Mill Lake is mostly forested land, full of deer, wild turkeys and a variety of other animals. Hunting is allowed in this area with the proper permits.

Authorized by the Flood Control Act of 1938, Cagles Mill Reservoir was created by building Cagles Mill Dam across Mill Creek. The Louisville District of the US Army Corps of Engineers operates the dam to prevent flooding in the Eel and White River watersheds. The Corps designed and constructed the dam in 1953, which measures 150 feet high and 900 feet long. Cagles Mill Lake has two elevation levels: summer pool and winter pool. During the fall and winter months the lake level is lowered, allowing melting winter snow and spring rains to fill the reservoir and prevent flooding downstream. The dam is located at the north end of the lake, flowing into Mill Creek.

Picturesque Cataract Falls are the headwaters of Cagles Mill Lake. Located at the southern end of the lake, the Upper and Lower Falls offer a majestic sightseeing experience. Upper Cataract Falls drop 30 feet; Lower Cataract Falls, about a half mile downstream, drop another 15 feet. There are numerous large rocks for the water to splash over, making an incredible whitewater display. You can view the falls from a hiking trail, which goes between the Upper and Lower Falls. Lower Cataract Falls can also be reached by boat. Take some time to photograph the historic Cataract Falls Bridge while visiting the Falls. This landmark is the only surviving covered bridge in Owens County, Indiana, and was entered in the National Register of Historic Places in April of 2005.

Cataract Lake offers a variety of opportunities for anglers with a fishing pier and two boat launch ramps. The lake is best known for its walleye; crappie can also be caught in its waters. The Indiana Department of Natural Resources (DNR) began stocking Cagles Mill Lake with walleye in 1986. DNR has stocked the lake with 4.2 million walleye fry annually since 1994. Boat rentals and organized fishing excursions are available at the marina for anglers who don’t bring their own boats.

If you aren’t interested in fishing, you can rent a pontoon boat and relax while enjoying the lake views. Cagles Mill Lake is open to waterskiing and offers water safari boat tours. Multiple picnic areas are located along the lake’s 37 miles of shoreline, and Lieber State Recreation Area offers over 200 campsites so visitors can stay as long as they like.

While at Lieber State Recreation Area, you can enjoy hiking, horseshoe pits, hunting, picnicking, playground equipment, and a swimming pool. The park’s activity center offers fun for the whole family. There is plenty to do when visiting Cagles Mill Lake. Be sure to contact the Visitor Information Center when planning your vacation.

Things to do at Cagles Mill Lake

  • Vacation Rentals
  • Fishing
  • Boating
  • Swimming
  • Swimming Pool
  • Water Skiing
  • Camping
  • Picnicking
  • Hiking
  • Hunting
  • Waterfall
  • Wildlife Viewing
  • Birding
  • Playground

Fish species found at Cagles Mill Lake

  • Crappie
  • Eel
  • Perch
  • Walleye

Cagles Mill Lake Photo Gallery

Cagles Mill Lake Statistics & Helpful Links

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Lake Type: Artificial Reservoir, Dammed

Water Level Control: US Army Corps of Engineers

Surface Area: 1,400 acres

Shoreline Length: 37 miles

Normal Elevation (Full Pond): 638 feet

Minimum Elevation (Min Pond): 636 feet

Maximum Elevation (Max Pond): 704 feet

Completion Year: 1953

Drainage Area: 295 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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