Lake Sinissippi, Wisconsin, USA
Also known as: Sinissippi Lake
Located in Dodge County just north of Hustisford in the midst of Wisconsin farmland, Sinissippi Lake is a beautiful pastoral escape. Surrounded by gently rolling hills and home to both waterfowl and waterskiers, Sinissippi Lake is the perfect place for recreation and relaxation.
The area around Sinissippi Lake was important in the 1800’s for logging. In 1845 John Hustis built a log dam on the Rock River impounding the lake. Originally called Cranberry Lake then Hustisford Mill Pond and Lake Hustisford, settlers finally named the lake Sinissippi from an Algonquin phrase meaning “Lake-like River.” In addition to being used for logging, by the late 1800’s residents were also cutting ice on Lake Sinissippi. In 1908 the existence of Lake Sinissippi was threatened. The Rock River Valley Land Company of Illinois wanted to breach the dam, eliminating the lake and turning nearby Horicon Marsh into farmland. Thankfully, the State Supreme Court said that Lake Sinissippi had existed long enough to be considered a natural resource, and the petition was denied.
In 1939 the Hustisford Dam replaced the old log dam. The new concrete dam raised the lake level about 1.4 feet to its current level. The higher water levels caused significant erosion, inundating four of the twelve original islands and eliminating the shoreline wetlands. In the 1940’s, residents around the lake started the Lake Sinissippi Association to protect the lake. The association is still in existence and works to protect Lake Sinissippi’s water quality and to reestablish the fishery.
Because Lake Sinissippi formed on gently rolling farmland, it is a shallow lake. The agricultural runoff has made the lake eutrophic (nutrient rich with low oxygen). In fact, it is too eutrophic for most game fish. The lack of oxygen combined with the lake’s shallow depth and quick ice formation have led to several historic fish kills. Carp and bullhead are the only fish still prevalent in the lake, but there are still some walleye and northern pike present. The Lake Sinissippi Association and the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources are making ongoing attempts to reestablish the game fishery, but so far without much success. Dodge County has several other lakes, and nearby Fox Lake and Beaver Dam Lake are great places for anglers.
Sinissippi Lake is a great place to boat and water ski. The Sinissippi Ski Club, founded in 1978, offers “Learn to Ski” programs every summer to teach beginning skiers. The Ski Club also performs together on the lake. Quiet boaters can explore the lake’s eight islands. Camping is available on Radloff Island, aka Campers Island, which is the largest island on the lake. There is also hunting nearby, and the bird watching is unsurpassed. Bald eagles, sandhill cranes, herons, and white pelicans all frequent the lake.
Just a few miles north of Sinissippi Lake, 3,200-acre Horicon Marsh is the largest freshwater cattail marsh in the United States. About two thirds of the marsh is managed by the US Fish and Wildlife Service as Horicon National Wildlife Refuge. The southern third of the marsh is managed by the Wisconsin DNR as the Horicon Marsh State Wildlife Area. There is hiking, biking, hunting and fishing in the marsh, and with over 290 species of birds and waterfowl. It has been designated a “Wetland of International Importance.”
With its beautiful rolling hillsides and magnificent bird watching, Lake Sinissippi is sure to become a family favorite.
Things to do at Lake Sinissippi
- Vacation Rentals
- Water Skiing
- Wildlife Viewing
- National Wildlife Refuge
Fish species found at Lake Sinissippi
- Northern Pike
Lake Sinissippi Photo Gallery
Lake Sinissippi Statistics & Helpful Links
Lake Type: Artificial Reservoir, Dammed
Water Level Control: Village of Hustisford
Surface Area: 2,855 acres
Average Depth: 4 feet
Maximum Depth: 11 feet
Completion Year: 1939
Lake Area-Population: 1,152
Drainage Area: 500 sq. miles
Trophic State: Eutrophic
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