Van Etten Lake, Michigan, USA

Lake Locations:

USA - Midwest - Michigan - Northeast -

Ice huts dot the frozen surface of Van Etten Lake in northeast Michigan. Inside the huts anglers sip thermoses of coffee and pull strings of perch from the icy water. The 1,409-acre lake has been providing visitors with four seasons of recreation opportunities for over a hundred years and the area’s native people with food and fish for far longer than that. With its fish-filled waters set against the backdrop of state and national forests, Van Etten Lake is destined to become a favorite Michigan getaway.

The Pine River is the primary inflow of Van Etten Lake. Van Etten Creek is the lake’s main outflow, and the creek goes on to meet the Scenic AuSable River before flowing on into Lake Huron. A dam, whose construction pre-dates 1922, controls water levels at Van Etten Lake’s outlet and is managed by the Iosco County Drain Commission. Van Etten Lake is part of the Pine River – Van Etten Lake (PRVEL) Watershed. The PRVEL Coalition was created in 2005 to protect the watershed which encompasses 282 square miles in Iosco and Alcona Counties.

Van Etten Lake has a maximum depth of 25 feet and an average depth of 14 feet. It is considered a warm water fishery, and anglers can expect to find healthy populations of largemouth bass, smallmouth bass, and northern pike. Crappie and rainbow trout can also be found in the lake, and the Michigan DNR stocks Van Etten Lake with walleye. The western side of Loud Island, Van Etten’s large island, is a particular favorite with anglers.

Access to the lake for boating and waterskiing is from public boat launches including one in the Van Etten State Forest Campground. The campground also has trails for hiking and ORV use. The lake is near the Huron National Forest. Established in 1909 and combined with the Manistee National Forest in 1945, the Huron – Manistee National Forest covers almost a million acres. Trails for horseback riding and hiking cross the forest, and there are places for camping. The national forest includes a 23 mile long section of the AuSable River and a 26 mile long section of the Pine River, both of which are designated National Scenic Rivers. The Pine River is favored by kayakers and has a section of light rapids, and the AuSable River offers spectacular scenery best seen from a canoe.

The Tuttle Marsh National Wildlife Area, a short drive from Van Etten Lake, is a fantastic place to see wildlife and waterfowl. The wildlife area encompasses 4,100 acres and is home to teals, golden eyes, herons and mallards. Hunting is allowed in season, and large herds of deer can by found during the winter.

Van Etten Lake is just a few miles from Lake Huron. Visitors to the Great Lake can charter a boat or enjoy the sand beach on the shore of Lake Huron. Water recreation opportunities are almost limitless, and in the winter trail for skiing, snowshoeing and snowmobiling round out the fun. Van Etten Lake borders the town of Oscoda which has restaurants, shops and a variety of accommodations. Lakefront vacation rentals and real estate for sale are also available on the lake. The Wurtsmith Air Force Base borders Van Etten Lake’s western shore. The air force base was decommissioned is 1992, but a museum onsite documents the base’s role from World War II through Desert Storm.

With its fish-filled water and beautiful surrounding countryside, Van Etten Lake is sure to become a favorite outdoor destination. Add the thousands of acres of water in Lake Huron and miles of scenic rivers, and the water recreation choices are endless. Van Etten Lake in Iosco County promises an unforgettable northeast Michigan vacation.

Things to do at Van Etten Lake

  • Vacation Rentals
  • Fishing
  • Boating
  • Swimming
  • Beach
  • Canoeing
  • Kayaking
  • Water Skiing
  • Camping
  • Campground
  • Hiking
  • Snowmobiling
  • Horseback Riding
  • Hunting
  • Wildlife Viewing
  • State Forest
  • National Forest
  • Museum

Fish species found at Van Etten Lake

  • Bass
  • Black Bass
  • Crappie
  • Largemouth Bass
  • Northern Pike
  • Perch
  • Pike
  • Rainbow Trout
  • Smallmouth Bass
  • Trout
  • Walleye

Van Etten Lake Photo Gallery

    Van Etten Lake Statistics & Helpful Links

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    Lake Type: Natural Freshwater Lake, Dammed

    Water Level Control: Iosco County Drain Commision

    Surface Area: 1,409 acres

    Shoreline Length: 10 miles

    Normal Elevation (Full Pond): 587 feet

    Average Depth: 14 feet

    Maximum Depth: 25 feet

    Water Residence Time: 45 Days

    Drainage Area: 282 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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