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Stockton Lake is a popular recreational reservoir covering 24,900 acres on the western edge of the scenic Missouri Ozarks. Though perhaps not as widely known as some of the other lakes in the state, Stockton Lake is still a great choice for vacationers and all those who want to have some fun on the water and in the great outdoors. Stockton Lake was constructed from 1963 to 1969, when the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers built Stockton Dam, blocking the Sac River and Little Sac River and creating this beautiful lake. Stockton Lake reached its normal operating elevation of 867 feet above sea level in December of 1971. The lake reaches across three Missouri counties: Cedar, Dade, and Polk.
Stockton Lake was built to provide hydroelectric power and flood control to this area of southwestern Missouri. In 1998 the lake became an additional source of drinking water for the City of Springfield, about 50 miles southeast of Stockton. However, Stockton Lake may be best known for its wide range of recreational activities: fishing, boating, water sports, swimming, sailing, horseback riding, wildlife viewing, and hunting to name a few. Anglers flock to Stockton Lake for catches of black bass, white bass, largemouth bass, smallmouth bass, walleye, catfish, crappie, and bluegill. The lake is known to be especially good for walleye fishing.
Even if you're not an avid fisherman, Stockton Lake offers many ways to enjoy its expansive waters. Take a relaxing boat ride to explore the lake's numerous coves. Or, if you prefer something more fast-paced, you can go water skiing, windsurfing, or jet skiing. Scuba diving is also a popular lake activity with visibility up to 25 feet, depending on the time of year. And if you like sailing, you'll love Stockton Lake. Known as the best sailing lakes in Missouri, Stockton Lake's windy expanse provides great sailing conditions. Even if you've never tried sailing before, you can learn how by taking private sailing lessons at the lake.
Stockton Lake has a variety of parks and campgrounds, making a visit to the lake both convenient and enjoyable. Stockton State Park is located on the peninsula that separates the two arms of the lake. This 2,176-acre park includes a campground, cabins, restaurant, and marina. The park also contains other amenities such as boat launches and a swimming beach. In addition to the State Park, there are 14 other recreation areas around the lake; 12 are managed by the Army Corps of Engineers, and the other two are managed by full-service marinas. The Corp of Engineers and marinas also provide camping facilities. Most campgrounds have lantern hanging posts, picnic tables, fire rings, shower buildings, and dump stations. Stockton Lake's three marinas are the only commercial development on the lake.
The Stockton Lake area also provides a variety of off-water activities. The Stockton Lake Equestrian Trail, about 15 miles long, provides a great place for horseback riding. Hiking, golfing, and hunting are some of the other popular activities in the area. All public lands are open to hunting, except the parks and waterfowl refuge, which is managed by the Missouri Department of Conservation. Hunters will find quail, dove, rabbit, turkey, deer, ducks and geese around Stockton Lake.
Stockton Lake and the nearby towns have some interesting yearly events. The Stockton Yacht Club holds a variety of sailing races on Stockton Lake. Other unique and fun events in the area include a bluegrass festival and the Black Walnut Festival. Those who enjoy observing birds and wildlife will have fun during the Eagles Day event held every January. This event is a great chance to spot the fascinating and majestic bald eagle.
At Stockton Lake, the opportunities for having fun are endless. No matter what your motivation to visit the lake - whether you enjoy fishing, camping, sailing, water skiing, or scuba diving - you're sure to make great memories at Stockton Lake.
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