Lake Wister, Oklahoma, USA

Lake Locations:

USA - Southwest - Oklahoma - Kiamichi Country -

Also known as:  Wister Lake, Wister Reservoir

Lake Wister, in southeastern Oklahoma’s Kiamichi Country, is a reservoir created by damming the Poteau River — the only river that flows north in Oklahoma — and the Fourche Maline Creek. The lake was authorized in 1938 by the Flood Control Act of 1938 for flood control and conservation. Operational in 1949, the 7,333-acre lake is located in the San Bois Mountains, an area inhabited for thousands of years as evidenced by numerous mounds from prehistoric Native Americans. As home to the important artifacts, Lake Wister is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Boasting 115 miles of shoreline, Lake Wister offers some of the best catfish and crappie fishing in Oklahoma. The Poteau River above Wister Lake is also a good area to fish during the spring runs of sand or white bass. Other fish to look for include largemouth bass, smallmouth bass, spotted bass, and sunfish.

Hunting is allowed at the Wister Wildlife Management Area, where you can expect to find white-tailed deer, turkey, waterfowl, rabbit, squirrel, bobcat, coyote, raccoon, beaver, skunk, opossum, fox, quail, and dove. Nongame species that are protected include bald and golden eagles, river otter, and black bears. The Wister Wildlife Management Area offers camping, cabins, RV sites, showers, picnic areas, group picnic shelters, and a lighted boat ramp.

Lake Wister State Park, the gateway to Ouachita National Forest, offers hiking, camping, paddling, bicycling, picnicking, fishing, hunting, boating, water skiing, miniature golf, and volleyball. Other facilities in the state park include lighted boat ramps, playgrounds, a nature center, and a swimming beach. The fall foliage in this part of Oklahoma is famous and attracts visitors and organized groups every year to the Lake Wister area.

If you just want to relax at Lake Wister, there is plenty to do, including hunting, fishing, camping, picnicking, swimming, boating, water skiing, jet skiing, bird watching, and nature photography. Vacation rentals are available at Lake Wister for weekend, weekly, or monthly rates, as well as real estate for the more permanently-minded visitor.

For off-the-lake activities, visit Poteau to see the Kerr Museum and Conference Center. Home to U.S. Senator Robert S. Kerr, the mansion contains many personal items and office furnishings of the late Senator. Visit Heavener Runestone State Park, near the city of Heavener, to see the runstone believed to be a land claim made by a Viking explorer prior to 1000 A.D. Just past Wister State Park is the Ouchita National Forest, which covers almost two million acres in Arkansas and Oklahoma.

Incredible mountain views and pristine rivers and lakes make the Ouachita National Forest a beautiful outdoor destination. Travel the Winding Star National Scenic Byway to get a good glimpse at Ouchita and what the national forest has to offer. There is an extensive trail system that accommodates hiking, mountain biking, horseback riding, and off-road vehicles. Other areas in the national forest you might want to visit include Red Slough Wildlife Area, the Womble Trail, and the Ouachita National Recreation Trail.

Wister Reservoir and the surrounding area could keep anyone busy for weeks — explore the wildlife areas, play in the lake, and just relax to a beautiful sunset. Head to Lake Wister in southeastern Oklahoma for an Oklahoma most people don’t even know exists.

Things to do at Lake Wister

  • Vacation Rentals
  • Fishing
  • Boating
  • Swimming
  • Beach
  • Canoeing
  • Kayaking
  • Jet Skiing
  • Water Skiing
  • Golf
  • Camping
  • Picnicking
  • Cabin Rentals
  • Hiking
  • Biking
  • Horseback Riding
  • Hunting
  • Wildlife Viewing
  • Birding
  • State Park
  • National Forest
  • Museum
  • Playground
  • Miniature Golf

Fish species found at Lake Wister

  • Bass
  • Black Bass
  • Catfish
  • Crappie
  • Largemouth Bass
  • Smallmouth Bass
  • Spotted Bass
  • Sunfish
  • White Bass

Lake Wister Photo Gallery

    Lake Wister Statistics & Helpful Links

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    Lake Type: Artificial Reservoir, Dammed

    Water Level Control: U.S. Army Corps of Engineers

    Surface Area: 7,333 acres

    Shoreline Length: 115 miles

    Normal Elevation (Full Pond): 478 feet

    Minimum Elevation (Min Pond): 450 feet

    Maximum Elevation (Max Pond): 503 feet

    Average Depth: 8 feet

    Maximum Depth: 44 feet

    Water Volume: 61,423 acre-feet

    Completion Year: 1949

    Drainage Area: 993 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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