Discover the Deepest Lake in Milwaukee

Written by Abdulmumin Akinde
Updated: May 30, 2023
© Sampson Photography
Share this post on:

It is never difficult to find an excellent body of water to take a dip, rest, or fish in Milwaukee. The most populated city in Wisconsin is surrounded by numerous water bodies. It is one of several cities located along the shores of Lake Michigan. With more than 40 in-land lakes, the United Nations has recognized Milwaukee as an international hub of freshwater research and technology. The city is also located at the intersection of the Menomonee, Kinnickinnic, and Milwaukee rivers. Read on to learn some interesting facts about the deepest lake in Wisconsin.

The Deepest Lake in Milwaukee

Lake Michigan view
Lake Michigan is the deepest lake in Milwaukee.

©Sarah Michals/

With a maximum depth of 923 feet, Lake Michigan is the deepest lake in Milwaukee. The lake has an average depth of about 279 feet. It is the ninth deepest lake in the United States and one of the five Great Lakes of North America. With a total surface area of 22,404 square miles, this lake is the third largest in the country, only next to Lake Superior and Lake Huron. 

Lake Michigan is the largest lake in the world that is entirely located within a single country. The other Great Lakes in America are located within the borders of the United States and Canada. Lake Michigan, on the other hand, is located wholly within the United States. About 7,358 square miles out of the total surface area of 22,404 square miles of the lake is in Wisconsin. Other states that are located on the border of this great lake include Michigan, Indiana, and Illinois. 

Hydrologically, Lake Michigan and Huron are technically a single body of water. However, many people consider them as distinct water bodies. They’re sometimes referred to as Lake Michigan-Huron. If they are considered as one continuous body of water, it would make them the largest freshwater lake in the world by total area.

Where is Lake Michigan Located on a Map?

Lake Michigan is bordered on the east and north by Michigan, west by Wisconsin, southwest by Illinois, and southeast by Indiana. Chicago is situated in the extreme southwestern part of the lake. Ports include Gary (Indiana), Milwaukee and Green Bay (Wisconsin), and Muskegon (Michigan).

History of the Deepest Lake in Milwaukee

Lake Michigan’s name is derived from the native word “mishigami.” The native Anishinaabemowin tribe that occupied the area around this lake before the Europeans arrived called the lake by this name. It translates as “big lake,” which is fitting considering its massive size. 

About 60,000 to 117,000 Indigenous peoples were living on the shore of Lake Michigan by the time the Europeans arrived in the 1600s. Prior to this, the earliest human inhabitants in the area were the Hopewell Native Americans. After their culture’s decline, the Late Woodland Native Americans occupied the region. 

Lake Michigan has been an important means of transportation, subsistence, power, and recreation for the people who have lived along its shores throughout history. During the periods of active European exploration in the region (in the late 17th Century), the lake was a major part of a chain of waterways that linked the Saint Lawrence River to the Mississippi River all the way up to the Gulf of Mexico. The use of the Michigan Lake as a transportation route led to the establishment of small port towns and trading communities in the 17th and 18th centuries. 

In 1985, a research expedition to reach the bottom of Lake Michigan was initiated. J. Val Klump became the first scientist to reach the bottom of the deep lake. Other scientific expeditions have been launched to research the lake bottom. Some of these have yielded some pretty interesting scientific discoveries, including a row of stones similar to Stonehenge with some carvings on them. 

Michigan Lake Fishing and Wildlife 

largemouth bass
Largemouth bass naturally lives in Lake Michigan.


Like the other Great Lakes, Lake Michigan is known for its rich aquatic biodiversity. More than 100 streams and rivers flow into this lake, which makes it a rich and complex marine ecosystem. Some of the fish species that naturally live in the lake include salmon, trout, smallmouth bass, largemouth bass, walleyes, and lake trout. Others, like bowfins and yellow perch, lived in the lake as well. 

Lake Michigan supports an active fishing industry. Back in the early 20th century, construction projects along the lake, overharvesting, and invasive species like sea lampreys led to the decline of many of the native fish species in this lake. Ultimately, this led to an increase in the alewife population in the 1950s. This invasive species threatened the native species as their population exploded.  

To control their population naturally, brown trout, rainbow trout, and other salmonids were introduced to Lake Michigan. Over time, the population of these salmonids bloomed so much that it led to a large sport fishery industry. The lake is restocked annually with steelhead, coho salmon, chinook salmon, and brown trout. 

Lake Michigan Fishing Records 

The indigenous people that settled around Lake Michigan in what later became Milwaukee were actively involved in fishing. It provided a stable food supply and later became the first commercial enterprise in the area. Back in the 1830s, fishing supplemented fur trading, which was a major commercial activity in the area. 

Fishing in the Michigan Lake remained one of the most dominant industries in Milwaukee throughout the 19th century. However, production levels experienced a decline towards the end of the century due to various factors such as pollution and overfishing.

Today, Lake Michigan remains a major recreational lake and an impressive lake to fish in Wisconsin. There are at least three state fishing records from the Milwaukee section of Lake Michigan. These include the largest Atlantic salmon, largest coho salmon, and largest alewife. 


In addition to the various species of fish in Lake Michigan, you can also find different species of aquatic birds on the lake. They include swans, ducks, and geese. Lake Michigan and the area around it are also home to different species of nesting birds, such as crows, bald eagles, and robins. Predatory birds like hawks, vultures, and eagles are common around the lake because of the abundance of wildlife and fish to hunt. Birds and different wildlife species are present in the marches, forests, tallgrass prairies, and savannas around the lake. 

Recreation at the Deepest Lake in Milwaukee

Lake Michigan is one of the Great Lakes and has a shoreline of approximately 1,400 miles. It is well known for its sandy beaches and is a popular destination for both residents and tourists in Milwaukee. The Great Lakes, including Lake Michigan, are referred to as the “Third Coast” of America because of their extensive and lengthy shores and beaches.

The Lake Michigan lakefront in Milwaukee hosts Summerfest, one of the most popular summer recreation activities and the largest music festival in the world. The parks, beaches, and museums built around the lake also welcome guests from all over the world. 

Tourists and residents engage in boating and yachting on Lake Michigan. These two activities have been popular in Milwaukee since the 1800s. The Milwaukee Yacht Club was established in 1871. Many other watersports, such as sea kayaking, diving, lake surfing, and kitesurfing, take place on the lake

Back in the 19th and 20th centuries, the shorelines of Lake Michigan were converted into parks. The parks gave the public access to the natural beauty of the lake, and they still serve as recreational spaces today. 

Up Next:

More from A-Z Animals

The Featured Image

Lake Michigan's Fish Creek Harbor in Door County, Wisconsin
Sailboats in the Fish Creek Harbor in Door County, Wisconsin on Lake Michigan.
© Sampson Photography

Share this post on:
About the Author

Abdulmumin is a pharmacist and a top-rated content writer who can pretty much write on anything that can be researched on the internet. However, he particularly enjoys writing about animals, nature, and health. He loves animals, especially horses, and would love to have one someday.

Thank you for reading! Have some feedback for us? Contact the AZ Animals editorial team.