Catfish Lake, Wisconsin, USA

Lake Locations:

USA - Midwest - Wisconsin - Lake Superior Northwoods Region -

Also known as:  Eagle River Chain of Lakes

Centerpiece of the Eagle River Chain of Lakes, Catfish Lake holds a special spot in the hearts of visitors to the Lake Superior Northwoods region of Wisconsin. The largest lake in the chain, Catfish Lake is a natural lake and a favorite of both anglers and resort visitors to the Eagle River area. Settled in the early 1800s, the Eagle River area saw a massive population increase in the 1880s when loggers arrived from Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. Word soon spread of the multiple chains of lakes teaming with fish, and the area began to draw sportsmen as seasonal visitors. Within a few years, the area was logged out and the loggers mostly moved on. The memory of this remote northern fishing destination 150 miles northwest of Green Bay remained, drawing hardy anglers to fish camps and rustic lodges. Because the area is so far from major cities, Catfish Lake never suffered over-development with vacation cottages and resorts as did more accessible areas.

Today, Catfish Lake remains an uncrowded, although increasingly upscale tourist venue. Most available lakefront property has been developed and holds an eclectic mix of lovely private homes and a few townhouses and condos mixed with the occasional resort. The lake is a favorite among boating enthusiasts who can access all ten lakes in the Eagle River chain from Catfish Lake. Sailing, windsurfing, water-skiing, jet skiing, diving and snorkeling are favored activities here, as is swimming. The many coves lend themselves to canoeing, kayaking and pontooning along the wooded shoreline. A marina at the channel between Catfish and Voyageur Lakes rents boats, pontoons and motors. A public boat ramp is located on the northwest shore off Highway 32. Wildlife is still plentiful in the area, and few residents venture far without a pair of binoculars and camera at the ready as bald eagles are plentiful in the area.

The Eagle River flows through the lake; boaters have direct access to Cranberry and Voyageur Lakes and through them, to Eagle Lake, Scattering Rice Lake, Otter Lake, Lynx Lake, Duck Lake, Yellow Birch Lake and Watersmeet Lake. Although natural lakes, the water levels in the entire system are regulated by the Otter Rapids hydroelectric dam operated by Wisconsin Public Service Corporation. Boaters can access the 20 lakes in the higher ‘Three Lakes’ chain by way of a Boat hoist/tramway at Burnt Rollways Dam south of Cranberry Lake on the Otter River. The channel between the two chains is dredged and maintained to provide access to boats up to 30 feet long and eight feet wide. It is reported the two combined chains make up the largest inland freshwater chain of lakes in the world. Access to this boating paradise is one of the main reasons for Catfish Lake’s increasing popularity among vacationers.

Catfish Lake and the Eagle River Chain are very popular fishing waters. Although specializing in walleye, muskie and largemouth bass, other species caught are smallmouth bass, crappie, bluegill and northern pike. In winter, ice fishing becomes the sport of choice as shanties appear over the favored ‘hard water’ hotspots. The Catfish Lake area offers a wealth of activities year-round to please the outdoors fan. The Town of Eagle River three miles away is considered a snowmobiling capital. The World Championship Snowmobile Derby is held at the ice oval north of the city, and local snowmobile clubs offer a number of groomed trails through the area. These same trails and others provide ample room for cross-country skiing and snowshoeing. Provisions for downhill skiing, snowboarding and sledding can all be found nearby. In warmer weather, hiking, mountain biking, horseback riding, miniature golf and wildlife viewing take precedence along with golf. Eagle River offers a variety of festivals and activities throughout the year, including the Klondike Days Voyageur Encampment in mid-winter each year.

Several campgrounds and camping resorts exist near Catfish Lake. One needn’t be a fan of camping and rustic living to enjoy the area around Catfish Lake, however: several newly-developed resorts on the Eagle River chain offer every possible amenity from gourmet meals to spa treatments and world-class entertainment. Although Eagle River is a small city with only 1500 residents, shopping is provided for everyday items, groceries and hardware. Eagle River offers movie theaters, restaurants and all necessary services to occupy the family on the occasional rainy day.

A variety of vacation rentals can be found along the shores of Catfish Lake. Many private residences and cottages can be rented by the week or month. Many are luxury homes with all amenities, private beaches and provisions for water sports. A motel located at the west end of the lake offers weekly rentals, and the several resorts and condo complexes on the Eagle River chain can provide exactly the kind of vacation venue to suit the most discerning visitor. Real estate in the form of existing homes is often found along the shore, although building lots are quite rare. So come investigate the possibilities at Catfish Lake. Let Catfish Lake become the centerpiece of your summer or winter vacation. Perhaps you’ll stay for both!

Things to do at Catfish Lake

  • Vacation Rentals
  • Fishing
  • Ice Fishing
  • Boating
  • Sailing
  • Swimming
  • Beach
  • Canoeing
  • Kayaking
  • Jet Skiing
  • Water Skiing
  • Snorkeling
  • Golf
  • Camping
  • Campground
  • Hiking
  • Biking
  • Downhill Skiing
  • Snowboarding
  • Cross-Country Skiing
  • Snowmobiling
  • Horseback Riding
  • Wildlife Viewing
  • Birding
  • Miniature Golf
  • Movie Theater
  • Shopping

Fish species found at Catfish Lake

  • Bass
  • Black Bass
  • Bluegill
  • Catfish
  • Crappie
  • Largemouth Bass
  • Muskellunge
  • Northern Pike
  • Perch
  • Pike
  • Smallmouth Bass
  • Sunfish
  • Walleye

Catfish Lake Photo Gallery

    Catfish Lake Statistics & Helpful Links

    divider

    Lake Type: Natural Freshwater Lake, Dammed

    Water Level Control: Wisconsin Public Service Corporation

    Surface Area: 1,012 acres

    Shoreline Length: 11 miles

    Normal Elevation (Full Pond): 1,615 feet

    Average Depth: 12 feet

    Maximum Depth: 30 feet

    Water Volume: 11,818 acre-feet

    Spread the word! Share our Catfish Lake article with your fellow Lake Lubbers!

    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.


    Lakes for Vacation and Recreation

    Except as noted, Copyright © LakeLubbers LLC. All Rights Reserved.

    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.


    Lakes for Vacation and Recreation

    Except as noted, Copyright © LakeLubbers LLC. All Rights Reserved.

    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."


    Lakes for Vacation and Recreation

    Except as noted, Copyright © LakeLubbers LLC. All Rights Reserved.

    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.


    Lakes for Vacation and Recreation

    Except as noted, Copyright © LakeLubbers LLC. All Rights Reserved.

    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.


    Lakes for Vacation and Recreation

    Except as noted, Copyright © LakeLubbers LLC. All Rights Reserved.

    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.


    Lakes for Vacation and Recreation

    Except as noted, Copyright © LakeLubbers LLC. All Rights Reserved.

    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.


    Lakes for Vacation and Recreation

    Except as noted, Copyright © LakeLubbers LLC. All Rights Reserved.

    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


    Lakes for Vacation and Recreation

    Except as noted, Copyright © LakeLubbers LLC. All Rights Reserved.

    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.


    Lakes for Vacation and Recreation

    Except as noted, Copyright © LakeLubbers LLC. All Rights Reserved.

    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.


    Lakes for Vacation and Recreation

    Except as noted, Copyright © LakeLubbers LLC. All Rights Reserved.

    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.


    Lakes for Vacation and Recreation

    Except as noted, Copyright © LakeLubbers LLC. All Rights Reserved.

    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.


    Lakes for Vacation and Recreation

    Except as noted, Copyright © LakeLubbers LLC. All Rights Reserved.

    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.


    Lakes for Vacation and Recreation

    Except as noted, Copyright © LakeLubbers LLC. All Rights Reserved.

    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.


    Lakes for Vacation and Recreation

    Except as noted, Copyright © LakeLubbers LLC. All Rights Reserved.

    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.


    Lakes for Vacation and Recreation

    Except as noted, Copyright © LakeLubbers LLC. All Rights Reserved.