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11 Incredible Recreational Lakes near Fort Wayne, IN

Fort Wayne has a fantastic selection of lakes, most of which are within an hour's drive or just about. You will find quiet fishing spots, urban city parks, as well as full-on recreational reservoirs with hardly any limits.
ItIsWild.com: Best Lakes near Fort Wayne Indiana

Fort Wayne has access to a number of excellent recreational lakes and reservoirs, most of which are within an hour’s drive.

There are peaceful fishing spots, like Lake Everett and Cedarville Reservoir, unique glacial waterholes like Chain O’ Lakes, and fun reservoirs like Blue Lake and Salamonie Lake, with hardly any limits.

Many of the options have campgrounds, beaches, and hiking trails. And in winter, most of the destinations allow ice fishing and cross-country skiing, too. 

The choice here is diverse and versatile. Check out what Fort Wayne has to offer!

Lakes near Fort Wayne:

  1. Lake Everett
  2. Cedarville Reservoir
  3. Hurshtown Reservoir
  4. Chain O’ Lakes State Park
  5. Blue Lake
  6. Lake Wawasee
  7. Grand Lake
  8. Edward Roush Lake (Huntington Lake)
  9. Salamonie Lake
  10. Mississinewa Lake
  11. Winona Lake
Lakes near Fort Wayne Indiana Comparison Table
Comparison Table

1. Lake Everett

Small lake in Indiana in summer
Source: unsplash
  • Website: Lake Everett
  • Distance from Fort Wayne: 13 miles (25 min)
  • Activities: Fishing, Swimming, Boating, Kayaking, Canoeing, Picnics

Located just under 13 miles northwest of downtown Fort Wayne, Lake Everett has the distinction of being Allen County’s only natural lake. 

This 42-acre body of water has a few cottages surrounding it, with portions of the lakefront property now in private hands. 

The state’s Department of Natural Resources Division of Fish and Wildlife (DFW) has developed a simple boat ramp, short dock, and dirt volleyball court area that serves as a small beach. 

This basic public access space provides those who wish to visit the lake with an area to unload their boats and roadside parking, but no other amenities. There are no outboard motor restrictions for boats launched into the lake. 

Portions of land near the lake’s southern shore are part of the Spring Lake Woods and Bog-Acres Land Trust. This preserve protects a variety of muckland plant species, including pitcher plants, skunk cabbage, and orchids. 

Those who fish in the lake will have a good chance of reeling in bluegill, black crappie, and largemouth bass. 

2. Cedarville Reservoir

Lake during sunset in Indiana
Source: dreamstime
  • Website: Cedarville Reservoir
  • Distance from Fort Wayne: 12 miles (25 min)
  • Activities: Fishing, Boating, Kayaking, Canoeing, Picnics, Wakeboarding, Waterskiing, Tubing

Cedarville Reservoir took shape after the City of Fort Wayne constructed the earthen Cedarville Dam along the St. Joseph River in 1953. 

The reservoir filled low-lying areas adjacent to the river immediately north of the dam, creating a body of water located approximately 12 miles northeast of downtown Fort Wayne which is now a popular place to fish. 

The state’s DFW created a perfectly situated public access point along Grabill Road in Leo-Cedarville that provides easy entry into the reservoir, although it’s easy to miss if not familiar with the area.

An alternative option is a public boat ramp at Main St and Pearl St junction. It has a parking lot for a couple of cars but no other amenities.

A visit to the Cedarville Reservoir will allow those fishing to catch black crappie, channel catfish, and largemouth bass that are regularly found there. Other species that frequent the reservoir include bluegill, carp, gar, northern pike, and sunfish. 

3. Hurshtown Reservoir

  • Website: Hurshtown Reservoir
  • Distance from Fort Wayne: 18 miles (30 min)
  • Activities: Fishing, Boating, Kayaking, Canoeing, Picnics, Hiking, Sailing

Constructed in 1969 to provide Fort Wayne with an additional water source from the St. Joseph River, Hurshtown Reservoir occupies 260 surface acres, surrounded by another 100 acres of buffer zone land. 

18-mile drive northeast of downtown, this artificial reservoir has an approximate depth of 20 feet, with no submerged trees, former settlements, or shoals.

The city has developed a number of recreation options along the parkland surrounding Hurshtown Reservoir. A picnic area, a 2.75-mile trail, and seasonal kayak and rowboat rentals are available. 

Access to the park requires a small admission fee, and Fort Wayners find this place to be a quiet escape from the city. 

Some locals claim this reservoir has become one of the best fishing destinations in Allen County. Smallmouth bass and walleye are abundant. 

Privately-owned boats may be brought to the reservoir as long as they do not have gas motors. Electric motors may be used. 

Since the water level is higher due to the berm surrounding this rectangular reservoir, windsurfers and sailboats have enjoyed this lake due to better wind conditions.

4. Chain O’ Lakes State Park

Chain O' Lakes State Park Indiana
Source: unsplash
  • Website: Chain O’ Lakes State Park
  • Distance from Fort Wayne: 28 miles (40 min)
  • Activities: Fishing, Swimming, Boating, Kayaking, Canoeing, Picnics, Camping, Hiking, Biking, Cross-Country Skiing, Snowshoeing, Ice Fishing

A trip 28 miles northwest of the city allows visitors to see a series of kettle lakes at Chain O’ Lakes State Park

The eleven lakes at this location trace their origin to receding ice sheets that weighed down upon the land during the end of the Pleistocene Epoch, the last major Ice Age. 

The result of this geological transition was lakes varying from 20 to 65 feet deep, surrounded by bogs and rolling hills along the terrain. The state established this 2,718-acre park in 1960. 

Visitors will enjoy an extensive network of trails, a sandy beach for warm-weather swimming, campgrounds, cabins, and year-round recreational opportunities that include cross-country skiing in winter. 

A nature center offers interpretive exhibits in the historic Stanley Schoolhouse, an old one-room school building that was on the grounds when the state acquired the property. 

Fishing is great in this park, with nine of the lakes connected by narrow, wooded channels for easy boating access to over 210 surface acres of lakes. 

Electric motors are permitted, but not gas-operating ones. Anglers can travel from one lake to another in search of walleye, bluegill, crappie, muskie, white and yellow bass, catfish, bullhead, and northern pike. 

5. Blue Lake

pontoon boat during sunset
Source: dreamstime
  • Website: Blue Lake
  • Distance from Fort Wayne: 18 miles (30 min)
  • Activities: Fishing, Swimming, Boating, Kayaking, Canoeing, Picnics, Camping

Less than a 20-mile drive northwest of downtown Fort Wayne, the spring-fed Blue Lake has become an off-the-beaten-path place for anglers to congregate. 

The 239-acre lake has a reputation for maintaining its clarity throughout much of the year. 

A couple of well-developed campgrounds provide direct access to the lake for their guests, as well as amenities such as floating rafts that are available for rent. 

The lake is a short distance northwest of the town of Churubusco, a settlement near the Eel River’s headwaters. Also known as Busco, this town has a variety of services and offers a great stopping place for those who travel to Blue Lake. 

The state’s Division of Fish and Wildlife maintains a public access point along the southern shore of the lake. From this spot, anglers can launch their watercraft in their quest to catch perch, crappie, bullhead, largemouth bass, bluegill, and pumpkinseed sunfish. 

6. Lake Wawasee

Lake Wawasee Indiana
Source: flickr/CC BY-ND 2.0
  • Website: Lake Wawasee
  • Distance from Fort Wayne: 44 miles (1h 5min)
  • Activities: Fishing, Swimming, Boating, Kayaking, Canoeing, Picnics, Wakeboarding, Waterskiing, Tubing, Ice Fishing, Ice Boating

Fort Wayne residents and visitors can easily access Lake Wawasee, the largest natural lake in Indiana, by driving a little more than 40 miles northwest of the city. 

This body of water with more than 3,000 acres was once known as “Turkey Lake.” Through a narrow channel, Lake Wawasee is connected to Syracuse Lake, immediately northwest of it. 

The combined 3,500-plus acres of lakes in this area are protected by the Turkey Creek Dam and Dike Conservancy, which balances development, conservation, and year-round recreation. 

Multiple marinas offer private boat ramp access for a fee, and the DFW maintains the Wawasee Family Fishing area along the southwest corner of the lake. 

Winter activities include ice fishing, ice boating, and snowmobiling. Jet skis and paddleboaders share the water with boats during the summer. 

Fish caught in Lake Wawasee include rock bass, redear, bluegill, crappie, and northern pike. 

7. Grand Lake

grand lake ohio
Source: flickr/CC BY 2.0
  • Website: Grand Lake
  • Distance from Fort Wayne: 62 miles (1h 15min)
  • Activities: Fishing, Swimming, Boating, Kayaking, Canoeing, Picnics, Camping, Hiking, Biking, Wakeboarding, Waterskiing, Tubing, Cross-Country Skiing, Snowshoeing

A trip 62 miles southeast into Ohio allows anglers to visit Grand Lake. When created in 1845, Grand Lake was the largest artificial lake in the world, measuring 13,500 acres in size. The area became the first site where crews dug for offshore oil up to the 1890s. 

Today, the lake is part of Grand Lake St. Mary’s State Park. Guests enjoy year-round activities that include camping and boating along the 52 miles of shoreline. 

Aside from a no-wake zone near the shore, those boating in the lake’s center may speed from one area to another. 

The state park offers multiple boat launch ramps. Winter activities include cross-country skiing, snowmobiling, and ice fishing. 

Fishing is a popular activity at Grand Lake. Walleye, catfish, carp, crappie, and bass are frequently caught. 

8. Edward Roush Lake (Huntington Lake)

Edward Roush Lake
Source: flickr/public domain
  • Website: J. Edward Roush Lake
  • Distance from Fort Wayne: 29 miles (35 min)
  • Activities: Fishing, Boating, Kayaking, Canoeing, Picnics, Camping, Hiking, Biking, Cross-Country Skiing, Snowshoeing

Located 29 miles southwest of Fort Wayne, the J. Edward Roush Lake was created as a body of water along the Wabash River for flood control and recreation after the construction of the J. Edward Roush Lake Dam in 1967-68. 

Located 4 miles southeast of downtown Huntington, this body of water is also known as Huntington Lake. 

The J.E. Roush Lake Fish & Wildlife Area covers a narrow band along the Wabash River within the lake, offering camping, picnicking, hunting, fishing, and boating opportunities. 

With 7,347 land acres and 1,200 acres of lake and water impoundments, this lake controls water flow within the Upper Wabash Valley to minimize flooding along the Wabash and Ohio rivers. The state manages this land in partnership with the US Army Corps of Engineers. 

With 15 miles of river to fish, anglers can test their luck catching crappie, bass, bluegill, and redear sunfish. 

Motorized boats are allowed only within the lake, not in the impounded waters.

9. Salamonie Lake

Salamonie Lake
Source: flickr/public domain
  • Website: Salamonie Lake
  • Distance from Fort Wayne: 41 miles (1h)
  • Activities: Fishing, Swimming, Boating, Kayaking, Canoeing, Picnics, Camping, Hiking, Biking, Wakeboarding, Waterskiing, Tubing, Cross-Country Skiing, Snowshoeing, Ice Fishing

Salamonie Lake is a little more than 40 miles southwest of the city. The US Army Corps of Engineers built the earthen and rockfill Salamonie Dam in 1966 at the northwest end of the lake, a little more than a mile from where the Salamonie River flows into the Wabash River.

The lake originally created for downriver flood control now comprises approximately 2,665 acres, with another 12,554 acres of surrounding parkland. 

Trails, camping, hunting, fishing, and wildlife and bird watching are popular activities at a number of properties along the lake, including the Dora-New Holland State Recreation Area (SRA), Lost Bridge East SRA, Lost Bridge West SRA, Mount Hope SRA, Mount Etna SRA, and the Salamonie State River Forest.

With the best water clarity during summer months, anglers should fish for bluegill, redear sunfish, catfish, and largemouth bass. Crappie fishing is great year-round. 

10. Mississinewa Lake

  • Website: Mississinewa Lake
  • Distance from Fort Wayne: 62 miles (1h 10min)
  • Activities: Fishing, Swimming, Boating, Kayaking, Canoeing, Picnics, Camping, Hiking, Wakeboarding, Waterskiing, Tubing, Cross-Country Skiing, Snowshoeing, Ice Fishing

Similar to Huntington Lake and Salamonie Lake, Mississinewa Lake was designed as a flood-control reservoir along the Upper Wabash. 

A drive 62 miles southwest of Fort Wayne allows for excellent hunting, boating, and fishing adventures. 

Prairies and forests along the 14,386 acres surrounding the 3,210-acre lake offer wildlife viewing, hiking, and biking opportunities.

The state manages multiple state recreation areas along sections of Mississinewa Lake. These include Pearson Mill SRA, Miami SRA, France Slocum SRA, and Red Bridge SRA, with its marina. 

Year-round fishing is popular. Common fish caught by anglers include crappie, walleye, bass, bluegill, and catfish. 

11. Winona Lake

Winona Lake Trails
Source: unsplash
  • Website: Winona Lake
  • Distance from Fort Wayne: 40 miles (55 min)
  • Activities: Fishing, Swimming, Boating, Kayaking, Canoeing, Picnics, Hiking, Cross-Country Skiing, Snowshoeing

Bordered by the communities of Winona Lake and Warsaw, the 562-acre Winona Lake is a drive of approximately 40 miles west-northwest from Fort Wayne. 

The parks department of Winona Lake has designed a Limitless Park that allows for summertime water experiences in a universally-accessible playground. 

Along part of the lake’s northern shore, the Kosciusko County Community Fairgrounds offer other community-based activities in the county seat of Warsaw.

The lake is a popular destination throughout the year. Swimming, water skiing, jet skiing, canoeing, kayaking, and paddle boarding are common during warmer months. 

During winter, ice skating and ice fishing bring people who bundle up to enjoy time along Winona Lake. 

Anglers at Winona Lake catch bullhead, catfish, sauger, walleye, green sunfish, bass, crappie, and perch. 

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