Chapman Lakes, Indiana, USA

Lake Locations:

USA - Midwest - Indiana - North -

Also known as:  Big Lake Chapman, Little Chapman Lake

One of the best kept secrets in the North Indiana region is the Chapman Lakes. The two natural lakes, Big Chapman and connected Little Chapman, have been favored residential locations for over 70 years. Located three miles northeast of the City of Warsaw, the Chapman Lakes join a number of natural lakes in this part of the Wabash River drainage. Other areas of Indiana have primarily man-made reservoirs, but Kosciusko County holds many wetland areas and small lakes created by the last glaciers. By 1940 the Chapman Lakes were ‘discovered’ as an ideal site for cottages, inviting year-round recreation and lakeside living.

The two lake basins are quite different. Big Chapman Lake to the north is 413 surface acres with cottages and year-round homes along the shoreline. Much of the surface is clear of emergent vegetation, making it ideal for boating, water skiing, wake-boarding, jet skiing and pontooning. An enlarged natural channel connects the big lake to smaller Little Chapman Lake, containing about 200 acres. Little Chapman Lake has more weed beds and aquatic growth. Much of its western shoreline is wetlands, creating a haven for wildlife and birds. The east and north shores of Little Chapman Lake are heavily developed. An ADA-accessible Department of Natural Resources (DNR) public boat ramp with parking area and rest rooms is located on the southeast shore of Big Chapman Lake; the concrete ramps allow the launch of larger ski and bass boats. The channel between the two lakes is navigable, and fishermen can utilize both lakes with ease. A small marina is located near the boat ramp, but there is little information published about its services.

Indiana DNR has stocked both lakes over the past 60 years. Fishermen most often angle for bluegill, largemouth bass, walleye, crappie, northern pike, yellow perch and several types of sunfish. The lake is far enough north that it often freezes to support ice fishing. Five or six fishing tournaments are held on Chapman Lakes annually, leading to an overflow of boats and trailers sometimes waiting to unload.

The wetlands along the western shores of both lakes are owned by the state DNR and designated as the Chapman Lake Nature Preserve. Previously named Big Chapman Lake Nature Preserve and Little Chapman Lake Nature Preserve and Wildlife Diversity Area, there is little information publicly available on the over-250 acres of wetland. It appears the name has been changed to encompass both wetlands, which are noted as excellent habitat for several endangered species and species of special concern, including the Virginia rail, the northern harrier, Blanding’s turtle, golden-winged warbler, king rail, black-crowned night heron, black and white warbler, least bittern and marsh wren. The 38-acre Little Chapman Nature Preserve, acquired in 1999, is particularly important in maintaining the water levels of Little Chapman Lake. Although not usually open for hunting, the DNR has opened the area for bow-hunting for deer on occasion to reduce overpopulation.

In the past 30 years, a great many former cottages have been remodeled or replaced, making the two lakes nearly 75% developed with year-round housing. With these increases in population have come the normal concerns that all residential lake owners face: how to best protect the water quality and near-shore environment to keep their lakes clean and safe. A voluntary group, the Chapman Lakes Conservation Association, consists of property owners and interested lake users who monitor water quality, educate shoreline users about critical habitat protection, and work with the State to maintain and enhance optimal conditions on their lakes. The affiliated Chapman Lakes Foundation works to generate funding for needed improvements and more specialized lake monitoring. The Association hosts several clean-up and fund raising activities throughout the year to encourage participation and engender a sense of community at the lake. Fish fry dinners, pancake breakfasts, events at the Association Clubhouse, a July 4th ‘floatilla’ and fireworks keep local residents engaged and a part of the solution to lake improvement.

Although the Chapman Lakes are considered natural lakes, water levels are maintained by the use of a levee and dam structure on the south side of Big Chapman Lake. The levee was last rebuilt in 2005 under the authority of the Indiana DNR, Division of Water. Because Big Chapman lake has two small inflowing creeks and three artificial drains, water levels were at times highly variable, depending on rainfall. The new levee replaces an earthen structure that was often undermined by beaver and rodents, causing leakage and a danger of failure. The new, partially cement levee not only helps to maintain water levels on Big Chapman Lake, but also maintains water levels necessary for the health of the adjoining wetlands.

Only three miles from Warsaw, Chapman Lakes are ideal for a bedroom community near the city. A great many of the residents have chosen to retire here due to the variety of activities to be found in the surrounding area. Warsaw holds some interesting older homes and the Old Jail Museum of the Kosciusko Historical Society. There are several good hotels located here, a bed & breakfast and other small guest lodgings, along with a number of restaurants. Within an hour’s drive, a number of quiet and scenic forms of entertainment open up. Amish Country is just to the north, with driving tours, buggy rides, a wealth of Amish crafts and homemade food items to choose from. Middlebury holds a famed Amish restaurant and affiliated modern inn. Not far away, one can visit the RV Hall of Fame, craft and art markets, botanical gardens, the Billy Sunday Museum and the Hallmark Museum. The University of Notre Dame at South Bend has cultural events occurring year round.

Occasionally rental lodgings can be found at the Chapman Lakes-usually private homes rented by the week. Real estate is also available. Other lakes in the area hold full-fledged resorts, campgrounds and guest cottages. The laid-back country atmosphere holds friendly, smiling people and a million reminders of life as it was before the modern era. So whether your style is power boating or paddling, or visiting nearby Amish shops, there is something here for you. Bring the fishing gear and visit Chapman Lakes. You’ll wonder how they kept this great treasure a secret for so long.

Things to do at Chapman Lakes

  • Vacation Rentals
  • Fishing
  • Fishing Tournaments
  • Ice Fishing
  • Boating
  • Canoeing
  • Kayaking
  • Jet Skiing
  • Water Skiing
  • Camping
  • Campground
  • Hunting
  • Wildlife Viewing
  • Birding
  • Museum

Fish species found at Chapman Lakes

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

Chapman Lakes Photo Gallery

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Chapman Lakes Statistics & Helpful Links

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Lake Type: Natural Freshwater Lake, Dammed

Water Level Control: Indiana Dept of Natural Resources

Surface Area: 638 acres

Shoreline Length: 14 miles

Normal Elevation (Full Pond): 828 feet

Average Depth: 14 feet

Maximum Depth: 39 feet

Water Residence Time: 2 years

Drainage Area: 7 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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