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Corey Lake is a natural 630-acre lake in southwestern Michigan near the community of Three Rivers. Most of Corey Lake is located in St. Joseph County with a small portion located in Cass County. The lake is named after Joshua Corry, the first pioneer to settle along the shoreline, although it is unknown why the spelling of his name evolved into Corey. The woods around Corey Lake were the hunting grounds of the Sangamon Indians; Sangamon is the Indian word for "good hunting grounds." From the air, the topography of Corey Lake looks like Mickey Mouse, with the northern and western bays resembling Mickey's famous ears.
Although Corey Lake is a natural lake in the St. Joseph River watershed, a water level control structure maintains the legal level of 874 feet above sea level, established under the Inland Lake Level Act of 1974. The single dammed inlet connects 122-acre Harwood Lake to the west with Corey Lake. The lake has two outlets on the south shore which flow into Kaiser Lake and Curtis Creek. The St. Joseph River watershed is comprised of rolling hills, farmland, forested areas, wetlands, and small urban communities. Residential development on Corey Lake is along the eastern, southern, and southwestern shores. Most of the north shore is undeveloped with a large wetland area and two YMCA camps, Camp Eberhart and Camp Wakeshema. Although Corey Lake has a maximum depth of 80 feet, about 45 percent of the lake area is 15 feet or less.
Public access to Corey Lake is provided by a state-owned boat ramp with limited parking for about ten vehicles with trailers. A marina is located in the protected western bay near Harwood Lake. Fishing is a popular Corey Lake activity. The lake's fish population was first surveyed in 1887, at which time cisco, yellow perch, bluegill, and largemouth bass were present. The last official record of cisco presence was in 1966. The State of Michigan stocked the lake with largemouth bass, bluegill, and yellow perch during the 1930's and 40's. Stocking of rainbow trout, begun in 1949, has been successful. Walleye stocking, begun in 1985, was discontinued in 1992 because of low returns. Surveys show that the fish population has changed very little over the past century, except with the addition of rainbow trout. Cold weather brings out the ice fishermen who report good catches of crappie. However, although the lake environment remains healthy with good water quality, anglers have reported overall low catch rates in recent years.
Although modest in size, Corey Lake is big on water recreation such as canoeing, sailing, boating, water skiing, and wakeboarding. The Corey Lake Association sponsors several events during the summer, including an ice cream social, boat parade, and fireworks display. Three Rivers hosts triathlon and duathlon races on the third Saturday in August; the swim portion takes place in Corey Lake. The Three Rivers Water Festival takes place in June with a car show, carnival midway, ox roast, live bands, sidewalk sales, and a petting zoo. Take some time to tour the community of Three Rivers where many of the downtown buildings are on the National Historic Register.
When temperatures begin to dip, the fall colors around Corey Lake turn vibrant. Local orchards sell delicious apples and other produce. And when temperatures fall below freezing, winter sports activity heats up. Downhill skiing and snowboarding are just minutes away in the community of Jones, Michigan. Cross-country skiing is popular in Meyer Broadway Park in Three Rivers. So bundle up and enjoy the picturesque winter wonderland.
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