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Lake Information for Clear Lake


Clear Lake is the largest natural lake entirely in California, and has the largest surface area of any freshwater lake entirely in California, the tenth largest by capacity. It is located in Lake County and is fed by many streams, but its sole outlet is Cache Creek. There is a dam on Cache Creek to increase the lake's capacity and to regulate outflow.

Clear Lake is 19 miles (30.6 km) long, 8 mi (12.8 km) wide at widest point, with surface area of 43,785 acres (177.19 km²) and a capacity of 1.42 km³ (1,155,000 acre-feet). Average depth is 27 ft (8 m), maximum is 60 feet (18 m), lake elevation is 1,318 feet (401.7 m) minimum, average water temp is 40 °F (4 °C) in winter and 76 °F (24 °C) in summer. Location [show location on an interactive map] 39°03′N 122°49′W / 39.05, -122.817 (per USGS).

Clear Lake is believed to be one of the oldest lakes in North America, due to a geological fluke. The lake sits on a huge block of stone which slowly tilts in the northern direction at the same rate as the lake fills in with sediment, thus keeping the water at roughly the same depth. Core samples of the lake's sediments, taken by U.S. Geological Survey geologists in 1973 and 1980, indicate that the lake is at least 480,000 years old. Some experts feel that Mono Lake, to the east of the Sierra Nevada in California, is older than Clear Lake. However, the sedimentary history of Clear Lake is unbroken, while Mono Lake's sediments have been disturbed by past eruptions of the Long Valley Caldera and associated volcanoes.

Facilities and Parks: 

With over 100 miles (160 km) of shoreline, Clear Lake is a popular spot for watersports enthusiasts. Fishing, swimming, sailing, wind surfing, waterskiing, boating, and riding personal water craft are all popular activities, primarily in the summer. There are 11 free boat launch ramps around the lake that are open to the public. Individuals may rent boats and personal water craft from many businesses around the lake. There is also a community aquatic center, Clear Lake Scullers, in Lakeport that offers rowing, paddling, and water safety programs for adults and youth for the community.

Fishing Description: 

The Clear Lake basin attracts large quantities of waterfowl, including mallards, Western grebe, coots, various species of goose, ospreys, plovers, mergansers and many others. Wild turkeys and black-tailed deer are abundant, as are opossums, red-tailed hawks, turkey vultures, raccoons, and other species. The endangered northern spotted owl is seen occasionally. The county hosts a growing population of the rare tule elk, recently reintroduced after being locally hunted to extinction 100 years before. A large colony of bald eagles is found in the Cache Creek canyon.

In addition to the native Clear Lake hitch Lavinia exilicauda (called chi by the native Pomo), the lake hosts catfish, crappie, turtles, and other native fish species, as well as farmed largemouth bass, trout and carp placed by the Department of Fish and Game for sporting purposes. Lake waters host quantities of tule and other riparian plants commonly seen around California lakes, as well as the massive cyanobacteria blooms that peak in late summer.

Blue Catfish
Channel Catfish
Largemouth Bass
Rainbow Trout
Optional Information
Maximum depth: 
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Clear Lake
Lake type: 

Businesses Located Nearby

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  • 9130 Soda Bay Rd - Kelseyville, CA
  • (707) 277-7245

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