Lake Rousseau, Florida, USA

Lake Locations:

USA - South - Florida - Cross Florida -

He guides his boat carefully over the submerged cypress stumps; it’s just barely light and he doesn’t want to risk hitting anything. The sunken timber is a challenge for boats, but fantastic for fish. It’s the fish that brought him to Lake Rousseau in the Cross Florida region, the largemouth bass in particular. Within 10 miles of the Gulf Coast, Lake Rousseau has a well earned reputation as an exceptional fishing lake and today it’s his turn to catch the big one. By the end of today, he hopes to be sitting on the deck of the lakefront home he’s renting and telling his friends fish tales about the one that didn’t get away. Regardless of how it ends, he’ll get to spend the day fishing, and Lake Rousseau is the perfect lake for it.

In 1904 the Camp Phosphate Company received a permit to build a dam on the Withlaloochee River near Inglis. Built for hydroelectric power, Inglis Dam was completed in 1909. The Florida Power Corporation later took ownership. Lake Rousseau is the resulting impoundment and one of the oldest of its kind in Florida. In 1965 the US Army Corps of Engineers took over responsibility for the management of Inglis Dam, and today Lake Rousseau is only used for flood control.

Stretching 5.7 miles long and covering parts of Levy, Citrus and Marion Counties, Lake Rousseau sits 11 miles from the mouth of the Withlaloochee River. The 157 mile-long Withlaloochee River makes up both the inflow and outflow of the lake, and Lake Rousseau also receives water from the Rainbow River. Lake Rousseau includes the small original lake and the river channel. When the lake was impounded a significant amount of timber was flooded, providing excellent cover for the fish. In addition to the bass, the lake is full of perch and catfish, and the crappie and shell crackers grow exceptionally large. The same timber that makes Lake Rousseau a great fishing lake makes it a challenging boating lake. It is not safe to power boat, jet ski or water ski. The lake is best is explored slowly and by canoe and kayak. Below the dam, the Florida Marine Patrol Station allows boaters and anglers access to the Withlaloochee River and on to the Gulf of Mexico.

Lake Rousseau is connected to the Cross Florida Barge Canal. Construction on the ill-fated canal started in May 1933 as a way to connect the Atlantic Ocean to the Gulf of Mexico for barge traffic. The project was stopped and started several times before finally being stopped in 1971 by President Nixon. Only two sections of the canal, including the section connecting Lake Rousseau to the Gulf of Mexico, were completed before construction was halted primarily because of environmental concerns. Today the canal has become the Marjorie Harris Carr Cross Florida Greenway, providing a 110 mile-long corridor with space for bird watching and wildlife viewing. The Lake Rousseau portion of the greenway starts at the Inglis Dam Recreation Area.

The Inglis Dam Recreation Area includes a picnic area and boat ramp and provides access to the trails on Inglis Island. Created in the 1960’s with the construction of Inglis Lock and Barge Canal, the 1,200-acre island is criss-crossed with trails. The main trail starts at the Inglis Dam, and there are beautiful views of Lake Rousseau and places for bank fishing.

Lake Rousseau is a short drive from Goethe State Forest. Covering parts of Levy and Alachua Counties, the forest has a wide variety of habitats, including scrubby flatwoods and dome and basin swamps. There is also a large section of old-growth long leaf pine flatwoods providing a home for one of the largest populations of red-cockaded woodpeckers in the state. Visitors can explore the State Forest on foot, bike, or horseback and there is hunting allowed in season.

The Halpata Tastanaki Preserve in Marion County and slightly southeast of Lake Rousseau has over 8,000 acres of wetlands, floodplain swamp and scrub full of plants and animals. Miles of trails for hiking, biking and horseback riding wind around the preserve. The Withlacoochee River runs through the Halpata Tastanaki Preserve before continuing on to Lake Rousseau, and anglers will find plenty of opportunities for bank fishing. Named for Seminole Chief, Halpata Tastanaki or “Chief Alligator,” the Preserve has a rich history and includes the site of the historic community of Stockton established after the Second Seminole War.

Less than an hour to the west of Ocala, Lake Rousseau is bordered by the towns of Inglis and Dunnellon. The lake’s shoreline is dotted with cabins, cottages and vacation rentals. There is also lakefront real estate available for sale. Private marinas and lakeside restaurants along with shops and various accommodations in nearby Inglis provide visitors with any amenities they might need.

With its fish filled waters and easy access to the Gulf of Mexico, Lake Rousseau is an angler’s dream. Add the wildlife, birds and beauty of Cross Florida and there is sure to be something to please everyone.

Things to do at Lake Rousseau

  • Vacation Rentals
  • Fishing
  • Boating
  • Canoeing
  • Kayaking
  • Jet Skiing
  • Water Skiing
  • Camping
  • Picnicking
  • Cabin Rentals
  • Hiking
  • Biking
  • Horseback Riding
  • Hunting
  • Wildlife Viewing
  • Birding
  • State Forest

Fish species found at Lake Rousseau

  • Bass
  • Black Bass
  • Catfish
  • Crappie
  • Largemouth Bass
  • Perch

Lake Rousseau Photo Gallery

Lake Rousseau Statistics & Helpful Links

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Lake Type: Natural Freshwater Lake, Dammed

Water Level Control: Southwest Florida Water Management District

Surface Area: 4,263 acres

Normal Elevation (Full Pond): 28 feet

Completion Year: 1909

Drainage Area: 2,020 sq. miles

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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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