Field Notes

April 18, 2022

What are all-sport lakes?

Read Time: 2 minutes

On Big Barbee Lake you see tubing, water-skiing and boats zipping by at 40 MPH … but on Pike Lake people fish or swim, and the boats mosey along the shoreline. What’s the difference? 

Big Barbee is designated as an all-sport lake and Pike is not.

How do you define an all-sport lake?

Simply put, an all-sport lake is one which allows recreational activities that would create a wake.

All-sport lakes differentiate from other lakes in their ability to absorb more impact from recreational activities. Areas within 200 feet of the shoreline are designated idle zones in Indiana lakes, so, in general, lakes must be large enough to support a 200 foot diameter and a recreation zone that is large enough for people to safely use.

What recreational activities are allowed on all-sport lakes?

All-sport lake activities could include boating, water-skiing, wave surfing, tubing, and more.

High-speed activities such as these are safest in water that is 10 feet deep or deeper. Based on the Lilly Center’s boating study, this holds true for your lake’s health, as well! In shallow waters, especially if the bottom is mucky or muddy, wakes will stir up the bottom and release nutrients back into the water, which can result in algae blooms or weeds that block the path to recreation.

As a general rule, all-sport lakes must be more than 300 acres to ensure a large-enough area that is at least 10 feet deep.

Educational Event on your lake - Lilly Center for Lakes & Streams

How many all-sport lakes are there in Kosciusko County?

Although there are more than 100 natural lakes in the county, 12 are considered all-sport lakes. Learn more about each of them by clicking on the links below:

The Lilly Center conducts research on all of these (plus Center and Pike lakes) every week from June-September. We gather data and water samples, identify algae species, expand our understanding of blue-green algae, and analyze and synthesize what we discover. A full report of our summer sampling is available each October.

Are there any all-sport lakes with restrictions on recreation?

Yes. Some lakes have different rules concerning all-sport activities based on the size and depth of the lake. For instance, some allow high-speed boating but don’t allow water-skiing, while others allow both. It is important to make sure your lake allows the activities you want to do, so be sure to check out our lake directory to find out what recreational activities your lake allows!


Winona Lake Aerial View in Indiana with drone photography

Lake activity and aging

Did you know that the size of the lake can determine how much activity it can absorb before its aging process is accelerated? Learn more about lake ecosystems and how people affect them.