Lake Poygan, Wisconsin, USA

Lake Locations:

USA - Midwest - Wisconsin - Central Sands Prairie Region -

Also known as:  Poygan Lake

The heron wades slowly through the reeds at the edge of the lake, stalking his prey. On the other side of the reeds, the man in the boat is doing exactly the same thing waiting and watching for the strike that means the fish has taken his bait. Angler and bird mirror each other patiently waiting for the fish. In all likelihood they will both be successful today. Lake Poygan in the Central Sands Region of Wisconsin is full of fish. In fact, it has the reputation for the best fishing in the Winnebago Pool which also includes Lake Winnebago, Lake Butte des Morts, and Lake Winneconne.

Poygan Lake has healthy populations of largemouth bass, smallmouth bass, and white bass along with northern pike and walleye. It is also a popular place to ice fish with shacks and cars dotting the lake as soon as winter sets in. Relatively large populations of lake sturgeon live in Lake Poygan and the other Winnebago Pool lakes. The sturgeon can live to be 100 years old and often grow to weigh over 100 pounds taking on almost mythical proportions. Spear fishing season for sturgeon starts in February and is open every year on Lake Winnebago and every fifth year on Lake Poygan and the other Winnebago Pool lakes.

The Wolf River makes up both the inflow and outflow of Poygan Lake. Formed by the Labrador Ice Sheet about 10,000 years ago the lake was originally a shallow rice lake. The Menomonee Indians, also called “People of Wild Rice,” traveled to the lake in the fall to harvest rice for the coming year. Lake Poygan was so shallow it could be crossed on horseback.

The shallow water made navigation by boat difficult to impossible, however, and in 1849 the first of a series of dams was constructed to raise water levels to improve navigation. The Neenah-Menasha Dams were raised and rebuilt until finally by 1881 water levels had risen 3.5 feet. The increased water levels flooded thousands of acres of land resulting in many lawsuits against the United States government which eventually paid damages to the landowners. An influx of hungry carp ate and killed the rice.

With a maximum depth of eleven feet, Lake Poygan is still a shallow lake. It sprawls over 14,000 acres across Winnebago County and has direct access through Lake Winneconne to the approximately 170,000 acres of water in the Winnebago Pool system supplying visitors with an abundance of boating and fishing opportunities. Vacation rentals and permanent residences dot the shore, and there is real estate available for sale. Nearby Winneconne has shops, restaurants and a variety of accommodations, and Oshkosh is an easy drive from the lake.

At the western end of the lake, the Poygan State Wildlife Area has 3,282 acres of marshy land set aside for waterfowl and wildlife. Trails wind across the area providing ample opportunities to watch the waterfowl and other birds. Hunting is also allowed in season.

Fantastic fishing and bird watching combine to make Lake Poygan a great Wisconsin destination. Add all the water and boating opportunities of the rest of the Winnebago Pool lakes and this Central Sands Region getaway has something to please everyone.

Things to do at Lake Poygan

  • Vacation Rentals
  • Fishing
  • Boating
  • Hiking
  • Horseback Riding
  • Hunting
  • Wildlife Viewing
  • Birding

Fish species found at Lake Poygan

  • Bass
  • Black Bass
  • Carp
  • Largemouth Bass
  • Northern Pike
  • Perch
  • Pike
  • Smallmouth Bass
  • Sturgeon
  • Walleye
  • White Bass

Lake Poygan Photo Gallery

    Lake Poygan Statistics & Helpful Links

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    Lake Type: Natural Freshwater Lake, Dammed

    Surface Area: 14,102 acres

    Normal Elevation (Full Pond): 748 feet

    Average Depth: 6 feet

    Maximum Depth: 11 feet

    Lake Area-Population: 2,401

    Drainage Area: 3,000 sq. miles

    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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