Field Notes

May 18, 2021

Get to know your lake: Wawasee

Read Time: 2 minutes

As Indiana’s largest natural inland lake, Wawasee has always presented an expansive canvas for recreation and relaxation - no matter your water hobby!

Wooden boat enthusiasts, for instance, will find community on Wawasee. In 2020, Wawasee Wooden Boats had a record year of participants: 84 different boats joined the Thunder Run, a weekly parade of woodies around Wawasee.

If you prefer a slightly faster pace, the Wawasee Yacht Club offers a wide variety of races throughout the summer. Their junior sailing program is perfect for aspiring sailors! Whether you want to participate or watch, the regattas are ideal for the whole family.

Maybe you’d rather stay on land. Make sure to visit the Syracuse-Wawasee Trails, which are ideal for hikers and bikers. You can also take a leisurely tour of the lake by saving your seat on the SS Lillypad.

Here are some quick facts about Lake Wawasee:

  • IS LAKE WAWASEE A PUBLIC LAKE? Yes. A public boat launch is available at 9822 N Turkey Creek Rd, Syracuse, IN 46567.
  • HOW BIG IS LAKE WAWASEE? 3006 acres
  • HOW DEEP IS LAKE WAWASEE? 81 feet (Avg depth: 22 feet)
  • BEST FISHING? Bluegill, Crappie, Largemouth Bass, Northern Pike, Pumpkinseed, Redear, Rock Bass, Yellow Perch
Get to know lake Wawasee of Kosciusko County
The Wawasee Spink Hotel was a popular vacation spot for out-of-towners - including Al Capone. (Image provided by Wawasee Property Owners Association.)

The Town of Syracuse was established in 1837 by Samuel Crosson and Henry Ward. The first few cottages, companies and clubs were built a little before 1900, and due to the railroad which brought out-of-town visitors, growth around Lake Wawasee (and Syracuse Lake) never stopped.

One 1928 advertisement claimed this lengthy list of attractions: “bathing, rowing, sailing, motor boating, canoeing, toboggan sliding, horseback riding, tennis, a sporty, eighteen-hole golf course, dancing every night at Waco, hunting, fishing and speed boat races.” Wawasee remains a vacationer’s paradise!

Here’s a highlight from the lake’s history:

  • The Wawasee Spink condos, formally called the Spink Wawasee Hotel, are located on the north shore of Wawasee. The hotel first opened for business in 1926. Well-known visitors included Bud Abbott, Lou Costello and even Al Capone. The Chicago crime boss was infamous not only for illicit dealings and violence, but for gambling and drinking, all of which he enjoyed during his stays at the Spink.
Get to know lake Wawasee of Kosciusko County

From past and current research, we learn that Lake Wawasee’s water clarity has decreased over the past 30 years. 

There could be many reasons for the change, but one common culprit is increased nutrients. When more nutrients (like nitrogen and phosphorus) are present in the water, more algae and weeds grow, eventually leading to decreased clarity.

The graph above shows a side-by-side comparison of Wawasee and Syracuse lakes. The bottom line is that these lakes, while directly connected, are impacted uniquely by weather events, changes in ecology, and human actions!

  • The lake’s watershed extends 24,448 acres, meaning all land within that area drains into the lake.
  • It has three inflowing streams and one outflowing stream (into Syracuse Lake).

Lake Wawasee is able to become whatever you need it to be. You will never lack for opportunity, whether you want an escape or a high-speed adventure. You can chart your own ideal vacation (or staycation) by visiting the Visitor Bureau’s website.

Lake Wawasee

Get to know your lake

Your Lake, Your Story is your key to discovering Wawasee’s past and present, and even some of its future.

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