Lake Wassookeag is the pride and joy of all who either live in Dexter, Maine, or those who visit or summer here. It provides endless hours of enjoyment as well as being the water supply for its citizens. There is a common observance shared by people who experience Lake Wassookeag’s water for the first time, especially from a boat. They are surprised and often amazed at how clear the water is. You can literally watch the fish swim around far below on a calm day. The lake is approximately 1,152 acres in size with a perimeter of about 12 miles. Mean depth is 27 feet. Maximum depth is 86 feet.
Wassookeag - Big & Small
Lake Wassookeag is often described as being two lakes - Little Lake Wassookeag (on the eastern side of the bridge), and Big Lake Wassookeag (on the western side of the bridge. Before a dam was constructed to control the flow of water down the Sebasticook River to the South, the lake (then called Dexter Pond) was about 20 feet lower than it is today. During that time, what is now called Little Lake Wassookeag was mostly a wet and muddy bog area. The water that fills the lake comes mostly from clean springs and is, perhaps, a bit cold for some visitors, especially on the large lake side which is much deeper. The public beach, and the public boat ramp, are located on Little Lake Wassookeag near the Lakeside Lunch just north of the bridge. The water on this side, because it is more shallow, is usually warmer.
Shores of Lake Wassookeag
Much of the shoreline on Big Lake Wassookeag consists of small pebbles and stones, along with some larger rocks and boulders of varied sizes. Huge continental glaciers, some as much as one and a half to two miles high once moved across this land, compressing it, scouring it, crushing and weathering rocks to the many sizes and shapes you see all around. Sometimes, this was left in large mounds that became hills. In other places, it rested on the shores of lakes and ponds. Note: Keep in mind that, before the dam was added that raised the water level, what is now the shoreline is quite a distance from where it was in the early 1800's. Native Americans who lived and hunted here called the lake “Wassookeag” which meant “Shining Water.” Once in a while, if you are lucky, you may find an old arrowhead on the shore.
By no means are Lake Wassookeag recreational activities limited to the summer. This is a year-round Dexter recreational resource for all who visit here. During spring, summer, and fall, there are the usual swimming, power boating, water skiing, sailing, kayaking, canoeing, and fishing options. During the winter months, there is snowmobiling, cross country skiing, and ice fishing. Just part of the varieties of fish in this lake include: American eel, brook trout, brown bullhead (catfish), chain pickerel, lake trout, landlocked salmon, largemouth bass, smallmouth bass, white perch, white sucker, and yellow perch. During the warmer months, we are all serenaded by the songs of loons echoing across the waters and nearby hillsides. Add to this, sitting around a campfire and telling stories, or enjoying its warmth while snuggling with a loved one, and we have a classic Maine experience!
Lake Wassookeag in Dexter
I love the landscape in this part of Maine, now referred to as the Maine Highlands. Lake Wassookeag provides many great opportunities for recreational fun, relaxation, and photo opportunities. Anyone who is able to grow up around a lake like this is certainly blessed with a richness that most people will never experience. This stays with us throughout life and raises the bar of expectations. As time goes on, the subtle differences between the two sides of the lake stand out even more and influences the things that we do and the images we capture. In the end, they all meld together as if in one breath, and one moment of time.