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Lake Puckaway spans more than 5,000 acres in Green Lake County, part of Wisconsin's Central Sands Prairie Region. The family hungering for an old-fashioned Wisconsin lake get-away will find their dream vacation here. The name Puckaway is believed to come from the word "Apuckawa", meaning "the place where wild rice grows." Describing the lake in 1673, Father Marquette said,"It is easy to lose one's way, especially as the river is so full of wild rice that it is difficult to find the channel." A long shallow lake that could more accurately be described as a wide spot in the river, more area visitors head for nearby Green Lake - the deepest lake in Wisconsin. Yet Lake Puckaway's average three foot depth has given up some amazing fish, including a State record northern pike. Those 'in the know' pass up busy Green Lake and head for Puckaway Lake with its quiet waters, abundant wildfowl and wily game fish.
Although a natural lake, Puckaway Lake has a small dam eight miles downstream. The Princeton Dam was built by the Army Corps of Engineers in 1897 in an effort to provide water deep enough for commercial freight steamers. It was soon realized that plans for a transportation channel on the upper Fox River was never going to be feasible and the attendant lock was decommissioned by 1922. Now under the control of the Wisconsin Dept of Natural Resources, what remains of the dam is controlled by 18 inches of stop-boards adjusted to raise water levels in the spring and lower it in the fall. These adjustments assure the correct water depth for nesting waterfowl and deep enough water to accommodate all outboard motors.
A full 60% of the shoreline is reeds and marsh, limiting summer cottages and full time residences to a small area along the bank. Many of these lakefront properties are available as vacation rentals, usually with boat and dock included. A hard sandy bottom provides excellent swim areas for children.The wealth of game fish will keep all of the family fisher-folk happy. Walleye, northern pike, large & small mouth bass, muskie, bluegill, crappie, perch and lake sturgeon are caught. The shallow depths lend themselves to excellent ice fishing; well-bundled ice fishermen arrive the minute there is enough ice to be safe. All Wisconsin lakes carry a standard fish consumption advisory but fish are safe to eat in limited quantities. The DNR plants fingerlings on a regular schedule to assure a plentiful supply. Several public boat launch sites are located around the lake. The shallow lake lends itself to canoeing and kayaking, along with windsurfing and the sailing of smaller boats.
The local Lake Puckaway Protection and Rehabilitation District has monitored water quality for many years and has restoring the lake to optimum health after several years of degraded water quality. Several state-controlled wildlife areas are located near the lake, including Grand River Marsh and Grand River State Hunting Area four miles south of the lake. Extensive wetlands lend themselves to excellent bird and wildlife watching. Great blue herons and double-breasted cormorants make themselves at home in the shallows along with a variety of ducks and shorebirds. Both the small lakefront lanes and public trails provide plenty of room to hike, mountain bike and skateboard. The tiny town of Marquette on the south shore is geared for lake visitors and has a full range of amenities such as bait, gas, groceries and lodgings. Golf courses are nearby.
Located amid Wisconsin's productive farming region, Lake Puckaway is only 90 miles from Milwaukee and 45 miles from Oshkosh. The distance is perfect for week-end get-aways or a home base for the summer. Real estate is occasionally available either on the lakefront or with lake views. Several resorts along the shore occupy the same spot they've held for generations, some with camping available. Property owners regularly rent their Lake Puckaway homes by the week or month, so vacation rentals aren't hard to find. Many families return year after year to their favorite cottage with a standing reservation. And, sooner or later, most try to purchase a piece of Lake Puckaway lakefront heaven to call their own. So, leave the big boats to Green Lake and join the laid-back atmosphere at Lake Puckaway. Before you know it, you'll be a Puckaway regular, too.
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