Lake Kegonsa, Wisconsin, USA

Lake Locations:

USA - Midwest - Wisconsin - Southern Savanna Region -

Also known as:  Yahara Chain of Lakes

Lake Kegonsa gets its name from “Ke-go-e,” the Chippewa word for fish, and it has been called the “Lake of Many Fishes.” The lake is in Dane County near Madison, Wisconsin and along with Lake Mendota, Lake Monona, and Lake Waubesa, makes up the Yahara Chain. Linked by the Yahara River, all the Yahara Lakes formed during the last Ice Age. One of the glaciers that covered Wisconsin left behind boulders, rocks, sand, and silt when it melted. The debris dammed sections of an old river valley, some believe to be the ancient Wisconsin River, and created the lakes.

The Yahara Lakes are natural lakes but there are dams and locks to maintain water levels and for navigation. The LaFollette Dam completed in 1938 controls the water levels of Lake Kegonsa. Water levels are set by the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources and maintained by the Dane County Public Works. Lake Kegonsa is the third largest lake in the Yahara Chain and the southern most lake. Early settlers called the lake First Lake because it was the first lake they came to when travelling north up the Yahara River. The lake’s earliest name, however, is “Na-sa-ko-cha-te-la” which is Winnebago or Ottawa for “Hard Maple Grove.” In the 1880’s developers started building summer cottages around the lakes, a practice that has expanded today. Lake Kegonsa is rimmed with private homes.
Only 1.5 miles of its 10-mile shoreline is publicly owned.

Most of the publicly owned shore is in Lake Kegonsa State Park. Established in 1962 and opened to the public in 1966, the park is 342 acres of oak woods, wetland marsh and prairie. The State Park is a great place to see wildlife such as deer, foxes, raccoons, and turtles. There are also herons, ducks, geese and other waterfowl. Visitors can explore the park on hiking trails, and in winter there are cross country ski trails. Camping and swimming are popular summertime activities. Lake Kegonsa provides public access to the lake for boating.

Lake Kegonsa is a popular place for sailing, motor boating, and waterskiing. The lake is highly eutrophic with plentiful populations of fish. Anglers will find crappie, bluegill, and perch, and there are also large mouth bass and walleye. The lake has earned its “Lake of Many Fishes” name.

Midway between Stoughton and McFarland, Lake Kegonsa has easy access to any amenities a visitor could want. Accommodations range from campgrounds to resorts, along with shopping and restaurants. With its rich history as a small resort community, its parks, and access to Lake Waubesa, the Village of McFarland is sure to add to any trip to Lake Kegonsa. Stoughton has about twice the population of McFarland and a proportional number of amenities. Stoughton straddles the Yahara River and with its active Historical Society and District, it is a charming place to visit. For those who prefer the cultural opportunities of a big city, Madison is an easy drive from Lake Kegonsa. Madison is Wisconsin’s state capital and the second largest city in the state.

With plenty of room for boating, abundant fish populations and all the amenities of McFarland and Stoughton, Lake Kegonsa is a great Wisconsin getaway. Add the cultural opportunities of Madison and a trip to the “Lake of Many Fishes” is sure to delight all.

Things to do at Lake Kegonsa

  • Vacation Rentals
  • Fishing
  • Boating
  • Sailing
  • Swimming
  • Water Skiing
  • Camping
  • Campground
  • Hiking
  • Wildlife Viewing
  • State Park
  • Shopping

Fish species found at Lake Kegonsa

  • Bass
  • Bluegill
  • Crappie
  • Largemouth Bass
  • Perch
  • Sunfish
  • Walleye

Lake Kegonsa Photo Gallery

Lake Kegonsa Statistics & Helpful Links

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Lake Type: Natural Freshwater Lake, Dammed

Water Level Control: Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources

Surface Area: 3,140 acres

Shoreline Length: 9 miles

Normal Elevation (Full Pond): 844 feet

Minimum Elevation (Min Pond): 843 feet

Maximum Elevation (Max Pond): 845 feet

Average Depth: 14 feet

Maximum Depth: 31 feet

Water Volume: 46,033 acre-feet

Water Residence Time: .31 year

Lake Area-Population: 12,692

Trophic State: Eutrophic

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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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