Lake Eustis, Florida, USA

Lake Locations:

USA - South - Florida - East Central -

Also known as:  Harris Chain of Lakes

One of the unsung gems of Central Florida’s Lake County is Lake Eustis. Nearly 8,000 acres, Lake Eustis is a central link in the Harris Chain of Lakes, a key waterbody in the Ocklawaha River watershed and home to about 50,000 area residents. In an area dotted with lakes small and large, and hosting several major Florida rivers, Lake Eustis is quite heavily developed with both year-round and seasonal homes. ‘Snowbirds’ with RVs regularly spend the cold northern winter cozily ensconced in sunny Florida at area RV parks. Yet, the atmosphere in Eustis and Tavares, the two major towns along the shoreline, is anything but staid and insignificant. A great many artists and retired professionals have joined the considerable younger population to keep Lake Eustis inviting, exciting and interesting.

Contrary to popular belief, Lake Eustis isn’t just for seniors; they make up only about a quarter of the residents of the City of Eustis. Many young families have found the beautiful lake a perfect place to raise families and put down roots. Part of what is called the Golden Triangle, the cities of Eustis, Tavares and Mt. Dora are home to a population of sportsmen and nature lovers who would just as soon spend their time outdoors enjoying all this area has to offer. Lake Eustis is known as a power-boating, jet skiing, water skiing and sailing community which finds plenty of water-based fun waiting just outside their doors. Two marinas and two public boat launch sites on the lake assure everyone’s access to the water. A sailing club holds regular racing events for its members, sponsors regattas, and teaches sailing to both children and adults using certified instructors.

Three canals, which are deepened channels of former creeks, connect Lake Eustis directly to three other lakes, giving access to the entire Harris Chain of Lakes. The Burrell Lock and Dam near Lisbon on Haines Creek keeps water levels relatively stabile and the channels navigable for small boats. The channels and wetland areas around the lake support large numbers of birds and wildlife, including the occasional alligator. The Dora Channel in particular is one of Florida’s most scenic short rivers; only a mile long, the channel meanders through ancient cypress trees draped in Spanish moss. Egrets, ospreys and herons nest along the quiet canal. So wild and remote-appearing is the canal that the Bogart movie classic “African Queen” was partially filmed here. The Dead River Canal leads to nearby Lake Harris.

Lake Eustis is known for world-class bass fishing. The largemouth bass here are legendary, as are the Sunday Palm Gardens Tournaments, an ongoing traditional bass fishing tournament that has occurred for about 15 years on Lake Eustis. Mostly attended by locals, the Tournament is open to all comers who will be hard-pressed to out-fish the local anglers who know the big shallow lake well. With an average depth of only 10 feet, Lake Eustis has a few deeper holes which often contain better underwater structure that attract the real lunkers. Other tournaments are also held here, although not as many as in the past. In the early 90s, the bass fishery was reputed to have ‘collapsed’ due to over-aggressive chemical treatment to rid the lakes of invasive hydrilla. The resulting overkill destroyed the food chain and breeding areas for a time, although some bass were still caught in the channels leading to the lake. Careful management has returned the fishery to near-optimal once again, but some bass anglers haven’t yet gotten the word. Lake Eustis also holds catfish, bluegill, crappie and sunfish. Both the City of Eustis and Tavares have public fishing piers that see plenty of action for crappies and sunfish. A recent experiment in placing gravel attractors for sunfish proved successful at the dock on Eustis Lake Walk. Increased catches have convinced local authorities to plan to place more of them in the near future.

Increasingly, visitors come to the Lake Eustis area to enjoy the many opportunities to observe wildlife and marvel at the unique ecology of the area. Canoes and kayaks can be rented locally to facilitate viewing the cypress swamps and narrow channels. Commercial eco-cruises on all three of the canals are gaining in popularity. A seaplane base at Tavares has a local flying business that offers seaplane tours of the area. On the outskirts of Eustis, the Trout Lake Nature Center offers over 35 acres of ideal bird-watching habitat. The center was founded in 1988 by the Oklawaha Valley Audubon Society. Set within a 230-acre wildlife preserve, the Center holds several interpretive trails, a swinging bridge, 1000-foot boardwalk into Trout Lake, and a picnic pavilion on the lake. Trout Lake accepts the treated water from the local treatment plant, and the water eventually filters into Lake Eustis. Serious efforts to improve water quality on the Harris Chain of Lakes have been a rousing success. Lake Eustis is now considered one of the cleanest lakes in the system.

Only an hour northwest of the Orlando metropolitan area, Eustis is a full-service city in its own right, including historical features, arts, live entertainment and plenty of shopping. The area wasn’t originally intended as a tourism attraction. Early settlers came here to settle federal homestead land immediately after the Civil War. Within a few years, the area became one of the leading citrus farming areas in Florida. Fortunes were made shipping the precious fruit north to a sunshine-starved nation. Two major freeze events in the 1890s devastated many of the orchards but by that time, tourism had taken hold. Sun-seekers came by steamship to resort hotels along the lakes in the area, and the canals were improved to facilitate transport. The railways eventually took over transportation, cutting off the more remote resort locations in the process. The remains of the small ghost towns along the shorelines are still a popular paddling destination.

Early developers who made their fortune from the land and the orchards left behind examples of the lifestyle of the well-to-do in the form of homes in the Eustis Historic District. Several have been preserved and can be visited. One is now the home of the Eustis Historical Museum. The Lake Eustis Museum of Art showcases the works of several local artists and offers classes in the arts. Live stage shows can be enjoyed at the Historic State Theater staged by the Bay Street Players. Just one of the community events sponsored by the City of Eustis is the GeorgeFest. This celebration of the birthday of the country’s first president has been happening annually for over 100 years. It is the second-oldest such celebration in the nation; only Laredo, Texas has had such a celebration for more years.

In keeping with its reputation as a vacation destination, Lake Eustis is well-supplied with long and short-term lodgings, from hotels, motels and bed & breakfasts to numerous private home rentals by the week or longer. Many are lakefront or have nearby lake access and lovely water views. Real estate is available on the lake also, with many existing homes appearing on the market in all price ranges. There are even some lots available for private home development. The canals shouldn’t be overlooked when searching for real estate, as they are often lower priced and still give access to the entire Harris Chain of Lakes.

Things to do at Lake Eustis

  • Vacation Rentals
  • Fishing
  • Fishing Tournaments
  • Boating
  • Sailing
  • Canoeing
  • Kayaking
  • Jet Skiing
  • Water Skiing
  • Picnicking
  • Hiking
  • Wildlife Viewing
  • Birding
  • Museum
  • Shopping

Fish species found at Lake Eustis

  • Bass
  • Black Bass
  • Bluegill
  • Catfish
  • Crappie
  • Largemouth Bass
  • Sunfish
  • Trout

Lake Eustis Photo Gallery

Lake Eustis Statistics & Helpful Links

divider

Lake Type: Natural Freshwater Lake, Dammed

Water Level Control: St. Johns River Water Management District

Surface Area: 7,833 acres

Normal Elevation (Full Pond): 63 feet

Average Depth: 10 feet

Maximum Depth: 28 feet

Trophic State: Mesotrophic

At LakeLubbers.com, we strive to keep our information as accurate and up-to-date as possible, but if you’ve found something in this article that needs updating, we’d certainly love to hear from you!
Please let us know about it on our Content Correction form.

Spread the word! Share our Lake Eustis 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.