Lake Wawasee, Indiana, USA

Lake Locations:

USA - Midwest - Indiana - North -

Among the gently rolling hills of Amish country you will find Lake Wawasee, Indiana’s largest natural lake. Whether you come for the scenery or recreation, the 3000 plus acres of glistening blue-green water will draw you in. Attracting visitors from Chicago to Indianapolis, Lake Wawasee has long been a popular site for family recreation, retirement or year-round living.

Located in Kosciusko County, the area has a varied and colorful history. Originally settled by Native Americans, the lake was named for Miami chieftain Wawasee. In 1826 the first white settlers arrived in what would become the town of Syracuse. Today this community of approximately 3,000 residents rests along the western shore of Lake Syracuse and the northwest shore of Lake Wawasee. With over 11 acres of parks, a planetarium, museums, antique shops and fine dining, Syracuse provides a welcoming place to start your visit to Lake Wawasee.

Carved during America’s last glacial period, Lake Wawasee’s surrounding green hills can reach an elevation of 1,000 feet. The same glaciation is responsible for carving the varying depths of the lake. Today Lake Wawasee is fed by Turkey and Dillon Creeks. An Indiana Department of Natural Resources dam maintains the lake’s elevation at 859 feet and provides a maximum depth of 77 feet with an average depth of 22 feet.

With 90% of Lake Wawasee’s 25-mile shoreline developed, care is now being taken to protect watershed habitat where heron, eagles and hawks can be found. 240 acres of wetland around Conklin Bay and Johnson’s Bay are being protected by idle speed zones. The Tri-County Fish and Wildlife Area was established to protect 3,486 acres of the watershed from further development and agriculture. The many efforts of state agencies, Wawasee Area Conservancy Foundation, and local organizations have also resulted in water quality excellent for fishing and lakeside living.

A 2005 fishery survey of Lake Wawasee collected 28 species of fish. Ranked in order of abundance were bluegill, largemouth bass, yellow bullhead catfish (some at 15+ inches), northern pike, yellow perch, redear sunfish, and black crappie. For those who enjoy competition, a number of day and night bass fishing tournaments are held at Lake Wawasee and surrounding lakes. All your fishing needs can be met by area bait and tackle shops, boat rental facilities, and boat repair shops. Lakeside Park and Henry Ward Park provide public access to the lake from the town of Syracuse. Additional ramps and marinas are found along the shoreline.

Many wet and wonderful activities are found on Lake Wawasee. For those with a “need for speed,” no daytime speed limit makes this large expanse of shimmering water irresistible to boaters and waterskiers. Area yacht clubs are the attraction for those who prefer smooth sailing. “The Sandbar” is a shallow feature of the lake where boats can anchor and families can enjoy swimming in the 3-to-4 foot water depths. The state-run Wawasee Family Fishing Area provides a 10-acre park with ADA-accessible features. End the week on a quiet Sunday relaxing and listening to the lapping of waves while you enjoy one of several boat-in worship services.

Today, over 1000 homes, condominiums and vacation rentals line the waterfront to make Lake Wawasee a community you will love to call home for a day, a week or a lifetime. Plan to stay for the summer and enjoy exhibits, shows, music in the park, and Fourth of July celebrations; stay for the fall and enjoy nature’s colors as you canoe down Turkey Creek; stay for the winter and enjoy ice fishing, snowmobiling and “Christmas in the Park;” stay for the spring and you will see the lake and farmland return to life; stay any time of the year and Lake Wawasee will welcome you.

Things to do at Lake Wawasee

  • Vacation Rentals
  • Fishing
  • Fishing Tournaments
  • Ice Fishing
  • Boating
  • Sailing
  • Swimming
  • Canoeing
  • Water Skiing
  • Snowmobiling
  • Wildlife Viewing
  • Birding
  • Museum
  • Antiquing

Fish species found at Lake Wawasee

  • Bass
  • Black Bass
  • Black Crappie
  • Bluegill
  • Bullhead Catfish
  • Catfish
  • Crappie
  • Largemouth Bass
  • Northern Pike
  • Perch
  • Pike
  • Redear Sunfish (Shellcracker)
  • Sunfish
  • Yellow Bullhead
  • Yellow Perch

Lake Wawasee Photo Gallery

Lake Wawasee Statistics & Helpful Links

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Lake Type: Natural Freshwater Lake, Dammed

Water Level Control: Indiana Dept. of Natural Resources

Surface Area: 3,410 acres

Shoreline Length: 25 miles

Normal Elevation (Full Pond): 859 feet

Average Depth: 22 feet

Maximum Depth: 77 feet

Water Volume: 75,020 acre-feet

Water Residence Time: 3.4 years

Lake Area-Population: 2,995

Drainage Area: 37 sq. miles

Trophic State: Mesotrophic

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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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