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Bantam Lake is an outdoor wonderland with great fishing, an almost completely forested shoreline and White Memorial Foundation - a nationally known conservation camping, education, hiking and boating facility. Bantam Lake is the largest natural water body in Connecticut and is fed by the Bantam River and Whittlesey Brook in the western part of the state. The Lake's outlet flows into Bantam River and the generally undeveloped forested shores and wetlands are part of the 32 square miles of watershed. Quite early in its history, a small private dam raised the water level a few feet.
Bantam Lake is at an elevation of nearly 900 feet and stores over 13,000 acre-feet of water. As one would expect, fishing is excellent and there are more than 20 annual bass fishing tournaments on average. Anglers will be able to catch large and smallmouth bass, chain pickerel, bluegill, largemouth bass, northern pike and black crappie. Bantam's pike fishery is considered by Connecticut's Fishery Division as its most successful project and has resulted in pike frequently reaching 10 to 15 pounds. Bantam's record pike is 28.5 pounds - now that was a fish to behold! Although many anglers fish from their boats, shore fishing is quite good.
Bantam Lake recreational boating is very popular with summer water skiing and even winter ice boating. Motors are allowed, but not from 11 p.m. to 5 a.m. The state operated boat launching site on the southeastern shore is a favorite access to Bantam Lake and there are small boat access points on the Bantam River within the White Memorial property. Canoeing, kayaking and other small boat activities are very popular. The White Memorial Foundation owns most of the shoreline to the east and north, adding a major outdoor destination for the visitor. With trails available for hiking, biking, cross country skiing and horse back riding, access to the beautiful outdoors is expanded. A group campground and two family campgrounds round out the Foundation's outdoor offerings.
In keeping with Bantam Lake's relative remoteness, there are over 100 geocaches nearby, many easy to find. Like many geocaches, they are located in quite picturesque sites and provide a very pleasant side activity for the more than 35 miles of trails available.
Bantam Lake is for the outdoor visitor, angler or someone who just wants some peace and quiet with the added benefit of superb stargazing - it's a wonderful experience of nature's best.
Reference: A Fisheries Guide to Lakes and Ponds of Connecticut, published by the Department of Environmental Protection, Hartford, Connecticut, 2002
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