President’s 2018 Spring/Summer Quarterly Report
By Dave Neuswanger
Updated July 15, 2018
Most spring/summer activities and plans for the future will be discussed in detail at our upcoming Annual Meeting on July 29. Click on the “Events Calendar” photo in the right sidebar for details. Click on the bold blue link below to view an agenda for the meeting:
WDNR’s boat landing renovation was delayed again. Renovation of the access facility in Landing Camp Bay is now scheduled to start August 6, 2018 and be completed by Labor Day weekend. We will believe it when we see it. Click on the appropriate “Latest News” item in the right sidebar for details.
The EXCOM has determined that chemical treatment of Hybrid Eurasian Water Milfoil (HEWM) is no longer a viable option. After stunningly good short-term results following the June 2017 treatment with Reward herbicide, our most recent assessment (early July 2018) has revealed that HEWM has returned with significant growth in formerly treated areas. And it is spreading. Our only reasonable option now is mechanical control, which brings us back to implementing strategies outlined in our approved 2017 Aquatic Plant Management Plan. For details, click on the appropriate “Latest News” item in the right sidebar.
WDNR Fishery Biologist Max Wolter has shared preliminary results of the 2018 fish surveys and hatchery operations on Teal and Lost Land lakes. Final reports (survey summaries) will be posted here on the Fish Surveys page upon WDNR supervisory approval. WDNR’s Thompson Hatchery crew from Spooner captured good numbers of adult muskellunge and successfully acquired all the fertilized eggs they will need for 2018 production. All 10-12″ muskies stocked in northwestern Wisconsin lakes in fall of 2018 will have originated in Lost Land and Teal lakes. Adult muskellunge populations looked good in both Lost Land and Teal, and there continues to be evidence of natural reproduction and recruitment (survival to first birthday).
It looks like 2017 stockings of large walleye fingerlings (6-8 inches) resulted in high capture rates of juvenile walleyes in spring electrofishing samples at Lost Land and Teal lakes. (We’re getting good observational reports about Ghost Lake as well.) Capture rates were similar to lakes in which natural reproduction sustains the fishery, so we know we have a strong 2017 year-class that survived its first winter. The adult walleye population is looking pretty healthy in both lakes too.
Teal Lake had more adult walleyes, but Lost Land Lake had bigger adult walleyes, on average, than Teal. These lakes produced similar fyke-net capture rates of walleyes in the “harvest-size slot” range of 15-20 inches. Anglers are encouraged to follow the rules and immediately release all walleyes less than 15 inches long and all walleyes in the 20-24 inch protected length range. I’ll admit it can be a little painful to release the first decent fish of the year when it measures 20.5 inches (see photo below), but it’s a small sacrifice for better fishing!
Largemouth bass numbers were down from previous surveys, thanks to selective harvest by anglers who are trying to help restore a walleye-dominated fish community. Largemouth bass numbers in Teal were way down compared with 2010 and 2014. In Lost Land, though numbers have been reduced, we still have more largemouth bass than would allow natural reproduction and recruitment of walleyes to occur. Anglers are encouraged to harvest and consume delicious largemouth bass (not kidding, TRY them before you judge) in BOTH lakes, and to continue releasing smallmouth bass, which are great sport fish that rarely eat or compete with walleyes. Fewer largemouths will result in more smallmouths going forward, because the former eat the latter.
Panfish numbers were still high, and average size of black crappies, bluegills, and yellow perch left a lot to be desired. Panfish size structure will not improve until we have even more walleyes to eat young panfish and thin their numbers sufficiently to stimulate faster growth. It will also help if anglers abide by the new panfish bag limit that allows 25 fish daily, but no more than 10 of any one species (crappies, sunfish, or perch). When black crappies, sunfish, or perch do reach desirable sizes, we cannot have them coming out of these lakes 25 at a time and expect average size to improve.
Several QLIA members helped our WDNR crews with spring fishery operations. Thanks so much to the responses (often on short notice) and capable assistance of Jim Dooley, Steve Fiala, John Gouze, John Grady, and Bryan Neuswanger. Dan Richards from Lac Courte Oreilles even left his home lake to help out on ours. Max REALLY appreciated your help, guys!
We are gearing up to resume water quality monitoring, with an emphasis on Teal Lake for 2018. Thanks to Jack Wellauer and others for past efforts, and thanks to Bryan Neuswanger for taking on the Water Quality Program Leader role going forward. As Jack will tell you, this is not a simple assignment. There is much to be learned about collecting, handling, and recording quality data that can be used to make important decisions about a lake’s status. Samantha Smith (The Retreat at Lost Land Lake) has agreed to help, and Bryan may seek other volunteers after he organizes all available materials and decides on a game plan. Check out our new “Water Quality” page and sub-pages (main menu bar above) to learn more about water quality monitoring, wastewater management, and drinking water quality.
Speaking of volunteers, I greatly appreciate John Grady stepping up to serve as our Shoreland Habitat Enhancement Program Leader. Adding more large woody cover to the near-shore waters of Lost Land, Teal, and Ghost lakes will be no small task and will likely continue for many years. We will seek a “pool” of prospective volunteers to help John on an as-needed basis when there is work to be done on this important project. More on this at our upcoming Annual Meeting on July 29, but prospective volunteers can become more familiar with near-shore habitat needs by reviewing the new sub-page on Fish Habitat on our Fisheries page (click on main menu bar above).
One final thought going into the Annual Meeting on July 29. Let’s “Keep the Quiet Lakes Quiet.” Let’s take the 10 mph speed limit seriously, and let’s respect our neighbors’ desire to listen to the sounds of the North Woods — not roaring motors or fireworks — late in the evening and early in the morning. “The Quiet Lakes” is our brand. It’s touted on every resort brochure and website. It’s why most of us bought property here. It’s a special and rare place for people to disconnect with technology and reconnect with the natural processes that make us human. We don’t begrudge anyone a quicker-than-usual boat ride home in a medical emergency, or ahead of an threatening storm. And we don’t want to nitpick over a couple MPH in speed. But flagrant violations have become a little too frequent lately. We also face the looming threat of “wake boarding” in which large boats specially designed to create over-sized wakes are used to tow people “surfing” on wake boards. To read the EXCOM’s position on this activity, read my recent letter to the Sawyer County Board (click on bold blue link below). We will discuss this issue at the Annual Meeting.
If you’re looking for a little light reading on a hot, humid, buggy summer day, check out some of the postings on our new History & Archives page. Our out-of-print 50-year Golden Jubilee History (1947-1997), written by Past-President Charlie Baumann, is posted there also.