A lake is defined as a relatively large body of standing or slowly moving water occupying an inland basin of appreciable size. Definitions that distinguish lakes, ponds, swamps and other bodies of non-oceanic water are not well established. Because of this, lakes and ponds are sometimes mistaken for each other, although ponds are smaller than lakes.
Freshwater lakes constitute about 0.009% of all free water within the global hydrologic cycle. The hydrologic cycle, also known as the water cycle, is the cycle that involves the continuous circulation of water in the Earth-atmosphere system. The most critical processes in the water cycle are evaporation, transpiration, condensation, precipitation, and runoff. The total amount of water within the cycle remains essentially constant, but its distribution is continually changing among the various processes.
Freshwater lakes contain over 98% of the important surface water available for human use. Most other continental waters are contained in glaciers, ice sheets, and groundwater.
The most well-known lakes in the U.S. are the Great Lakes: Lake Michigan, Lake Superior, Lake Huron, Lake Ontario, and Lake Erie. The Great Lakes are a series of interconnected freshwater lakes on or near the Canada-U.S. border. The lakes are located around Michigan, Wisconsin, New York, Illinois, Indiana, Minnesota, Ohio, and Pennsylvania. The five Great Lakes are also the five largest lakes in the U.S. The Great Lakes ranked in order of their size are:
- Lake Superior - 31,700 square miles
- Lake Huron - 23,000 square miles
- Lake Michigan - 22,300 square miles
- Lake Erie - 9,910 square miles
- Lake Ontario - 7,340 square miles
States with the Most Lakes
If you’re looking for destinations with lots of fishing possibilities, these states should be on your radar.
Minnesota, the “Land of 10,000 Lakes,” does not have the most lakes of any state. Alaska has the most lakes in the country, with about 3,197 officially named natural lakes and 3 million unnamed natural lakes.
However, Minnesota has the most named lakes with about 15,291 natural lakes, 11,824 of which are greater than 10 acres. Minnesota has about 2.6 million acres of lakes.
Wisconsin has the third-highest number of lakes with 15,074, just behind Minnesota. Only 6,044 of Wisconsin’s lakes are named. Michigan also has a high number of lakes at 11,000.