Lake Pocotopaug, Connecticut, USA

Lake Locations:

USA - New England - Connecticut - River Valley -

Also known as:  Pocotopaug Lake

Lake Pocotopaug in Connecticut’s River Valley Region is relatively unknown to most lake explorers. The 516-acre lake is entirely private and a delight to the lakefront property owners who live there. Less than 25 miles southeast of Hartford, Lake Pocotopaug has been a desirable address since the early 1800s. The name Pocotopaug is said to mean “divided pond” in one of the local Native American tongues. A narrow spit of land extending from the northeast shore does appear to partially divide the lake. Local legend tells of a great chief being forced to sacrifice his daughter to the waters to save his tribe from drowning. Although likely a fanciful tale, there have been no reported drownings in the lake for over 250 years.

The area around Lake Pocotopaug was settled early; by 1743, a small dam had been built at the Pocotopaug Creek outlet to run a forge where iron pots, kettles, waffle irons, and coffee mills were made. The swift-running little stream proved quite productive to local business, and several more businesses were developed downstream through what is now the City of East Hampton. The most successful business turned out to be bell-making, particularly sleigh bells. A local businessman named William Barton developed a new process for casting the bells in one piece, creating bells with such clear tones that tons of sleigh bells were shipped down the Connecticut River packed in sugar barrels. Soon all types of bells were being made in East Hampton, from ship bells to church bells to chimes, and East Hampton was known across the country as ‘Belltown USA’. A descendant of one of Barton’s apprentices, William Bevins, still has a bell factory here.

By the late 1800s, visitors were arriving by train from New York City to stay at resort hotels that had been built around the shore. Lake Pocotopaug was noted for clear water and excellent fishing. Only 100 miles from New York City and Boston, many wealthy families built homes along the shore. Generations of New Englanders have grown up spending summers at Lake Pocotopaug; the five mile shoreline is nearly fully residential development. Two islands near the southwest shore, called the Twin Islands, were also developed. One is home to a resort property yet today. As is common with lakefront property, the homes have increasingly become upscale and the area more affluent.

The township of East Hampton contains the City of East Hampton and the villages of Middle Haddam and Lake Pocotopaug. There is no public access to the lake; visitors to the town park, Sears Park, must have residency paperwork and an access sticker. There is a swim area at the park as well as a boat launch, play area with swings and slide, volleyball, tennis and basketball courts, picnic tables, grills, bathhouse, shelters and Sears Park Pavilion for community events. The lake is used for all types of boating. Waterskiing and tubing are allowed, but pontooning, sailing, canoeing and kayaking appear to be the most popular. Speed is limited to 40 mph. In winter, ice skating and ice boating are popular pastimes. And fishing in likely the most enjoyed sport. Walleye are purchased for planting by the city; white perch, yellow perch, bluegill, pumpkinseed sunfish, largemouth bass, smallmouth bass, chain pickerel, carp, American eel, bullhead and white catfish are also caught. Lake Pocotopaug holds recent state records for largemouth bass and catfish. There is a marina located at the lake with boat rentals, and at least one local restaurant is provided with dock space for visitors to arrive by boat.

In the past few years Lake Pocotopaug has suffered from heavy algae blooms that have concerned residents and state environmental officials alike. This concern has resulted in several ongoing lake studies, education of residents on better lawn fertilization practices, and several active groups dedicated to restoring the lake to optimum health. Although Pocotopaug Water Power Company appears to be the current owner of record of the dam, it doesn’t appear that they are maintaining any activities over the water levels. Connecticut Department of Environmental Protection has taken responsibility for the dam in an effort to alleviate the algae problem. A plan is in the works to lower the water levels in winter to reduce stratification of the water and improve healthier chemical balances. And one of the lake user’s groups, Friends of Lake Pocotopaug, holds several fund-raising events annually to pay for costs associated with lake clean-up. Their annual Princess of the Lake Boat Pageant has proved very popular as boat owners try to outdo their neighbors’ creativity in decorating their boats. Water quality testing is beginning to show results as property owners learn to take better care of their lake.

There is a wealth of activities in the East Hampton area. Many visitors enjoy the Air Line State Park Trail – a 13-mile trail linking the areas of East Hampton, Colchester, Hebron and Lebanon. Designed for walking, hiking, horseback riding, biking and cross country skiing, the trail connects to a portion of the Salmon River State Forest and with Raymond Brook Marsh. The Salmon River State Forest provides nearly 6,000 acres located in the towns of Hebron, Marlborough Colchester, East Haddam, and East Hampton. Included in the forest area are 1,300 acres that are leased from the United States Government. Portions are open for fishing, hiking and hunting. Raymond Brook Marsh is a Wildlife Management Area containing a large wetland acreage and abundant wildlife and birds. A few miles north of Lake Pocotopaug, Meshomasic State forest allows for camping, fishing, hunting and hiking. Less than 30 miles from the lake, Dinosaur State Park at Rocky Hill exhibits fossilized dinosaur tracks in a covered exhibit, along with gardens showcasing many of the plants that existed at the time the huge animals walked Connecticut. And, of course, Hartford has every imaginable amenity one would expect in a large and modern city. Museums, nightlife and shopping are only 25 miles away from the lake in Hartford.

Vacation rentals are plentiful around Lake Pocotopaug. Besides the resorts and standard city lodgings available in East Hampton, many private residences are available by the night, week or seasonal lease. Connecticut is famous for its quaint bed-and-breakfast establishments and country inns – many are furnished with exquisite antiques and offer specialty meals. And real estate is also available for sale, often with lakefront or lake views. Lake Pocotopaug is well worth a visit. Perhaps you will fall in love with the lake and its neighborhood charm. Come and see what you’re missing!

Things to do at Lake Pocotopaug

  • Vacation Rentals
  • Fishing
  • Boating
  • Sailing
  • Swimming
  • Canoeing
  • Kayaking
  • Water Skiing
  • Tubing
  • Tennis
  • Camping
  • Picnicking
  • Hiking
  • Ice Skating
  • Biking
  • Cross-Country Skiing
  • Horseback Riding
  • Hunting
  • Wildlife Viewing
  • Birding
  • State Park
  • State Forest
  • Museum
  • Antiquing
  • Shopping

Fish species found at Lake Pocotopaug

  • Bass
  • Black Bass
  • Bluegill
  • Carp
  • Catfish
  • Chain Pickerel
  • Eel
  • Largemouth Bass
  • Perch
  • Pickerel
  • Pike
  • Pumpkinseed
  • Salmon
  • Smallmouth Bass
  • Sunfish
  • Walleye
  • White Catfish
  • White Perch
  • Yellow Perch

Lake Pocotopaug Photo Gallery

Lake Pocotopaug Statistics & Helpful Links

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Lake Type: Natural Freshwater Lake, Dammed

Water Level Control: Connecticut Dept. of Environmental Protection

Surface Area: 516 acres

Shoreline Length: 5 miles

Normal Elevation (Full Pond): 469 feet

Average Depth: 10 feet

Maximum Depth: 38 feet

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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