Whether you enjoy boating, canoeing, fishing, swimming, picnicking, or hiking Gillham Lake has an activity for you. Gillham has five recreation areas around the lake. There are five boat ramps, three campgrounds, two picnic shelters, and one designated swim area. Please remember whatever your recreational interest – play it safe at the lake.
Gillham Lake includes 1,370 surface acres of the best bass fishing around. Canoeing and Fly-fishing on the Cossatot River are also very popular sports. The river can be canoed from a point below the dam to U.S. Highway 71 South, a distance of about 16 miles. For shorter canoe trips, there are access roads to the river at Mize Crossing and Ladd Bridge. There are five launch ramps that require a day use fee or you may purchase an Annual Day Use Pass that is valid for the entire year.
· Do not overload your boat.
· Boats must not approach closer to the dam than indicated by warning signs or buoy lines.
· If your boat capsizes stay with it and use it as a life preserver.
· Standing in a boat can lead to disaster.
· Head for shore if bad weather threatens.
· Slow down when approaching small boats, docks, skiers, or fishermen.
· Help any boat in distress and if you need help call for it.
· Each boat is required to have an approved personal flotation device for each passenger.
Fishing provides many hours of enjoyment at Gillham Lake. The species most actively sought are smallmouth, largemouth, and spotted bass, crappie, channel and flathead catfish, and various species of sunfish. In addition, white bass and walleye have been introduced in an effort to provide an improved fishery. Most of the species found in the lake are also present in the downstream areas.
Gillham Lake has the Coon Creek Walking Trail which is located on the entry road to Big Coon Creek Park. The trail is approximately two miles and makes it way through rolling hills and views of Gillham Lake. The best time to enjoy the Coon Creek Walking Trail is during the spring when dogwood and redbud trees bloom or in the fall when the autumn colors are at their peak.
All project lands except the developed public use areas and land around the dam and other project structures, are open to public hunting. Principal game species found in the area are whitetail deer, bobwhite quail, turkey, mourning dove, squirrel, and cottontail rabbits. Due to the absence of public roads, access to some areas is difficult. For the most part, direct access is afforded by the public use area roads and timber roads that are open to the public. Some of the more remote areas are accessible only by boat.
Picnicking areas are available at many of the sites on Gillham. There are two designated picnicking areas and one picnicking shelter, which is great for family reunions. The picnic shelter is lighted and equipped with a barbeque grill and electricity. It is also very close to the lake. Picnic areas and shelters are located at Cossatot Point, Little Coon Creek, and Cossatot Reefs. These shelters may be rented by contacting the Cossatot Reefs gatehouse at 870-386-7261 or the Big Coon Creek gatehouse at 870-385-7126.
Although Gillham Lake is known mostly for it’s fishing there is one designated swimming area located at Big Coon Creek. Users must pay a daily fee or may purchase an annual pass that is valid for the entire year.