History & Archives

History & Archives

PAGE UNDER CONSTRUCTION

This is where you will find documents of historical significance to the Quiet Lakes Improvement Association, including many stories and photos transferred from the precursory blogsite operated by QLIA for many years before this website was launched in 2017.

LARGEST FISH EVER PHOTOGRAPHED FROM THE QUIET LAKES?

By Dave Neuswanger, May 13, 2018

Yesterday I met Merle Sampson — one of my new neighbors on Steamboat Bay of Lost Land Lake. I’m the newbie here though, because Merle has been coming to Lost Land for over 40 years. He runs a business developing health care and assisted living properties in the Twin Cities; but he flies his float plane in and out of Lost Land Lake several times a year to enjoy a peaceful retreat from the rigors of business.

During our visit, Merle discovered I was a fishery biologist in a former life, and he was eager to share with me an article he had clipped from the Sawyer County Record on July 27, 1988. The title of the article by Janet Krokson was “Monster sturgeon pulled from waters of Teal Lake.” It contained a full-length photo (see below) of a lake sturgeon measuring 6 feet, 7 inches in length and weighing 167 pounds! Thanks to some careful scanning and editing of that old clipping by QLIA photo editor Bryan Neuswanger, we are able to share this important piece of Quiet Lakes history.

The article indicated this monster fish had been found floating dead at the surface of Teal Lake by Rob Swanson (a worker at Ross’ Teal Lake Lodge) on Friday, July 22, 1988 — almost 30 years ago. Tim Ross (then co-owner of Ross’ Teal Lake Lodge) and others drove the fish to Olson’s Grocery in Hayward where the weight was verified at 167 pounds — only 13 pounds shy of the Wisconsin State Record lake sturgeon at that time from Lake Winnebago. The late Tim Ross appears in the photo above, along with a very young Victoria Ross (daughter of Tim and Prudence), who now manages Ross’ Teal Lake Rentals.

Krokson’s article went on to say “… a dead sturgeon weighing about 175 pounds was hauled out of Lost Land Lake near Hayward about three years ago [~1985], and because of it’s size it now hangs at the Department of Natural Resources headquarters in Spooner.” At this writing, I cannot confirm the weight of that fish; but it’s likely that one of these two monster lake sturgeon (the 167-pounder from Teal Lake in 1988 or the purported 175-pounder from Lost Land Lake around 1985) is the largest fish ever recorded from one of the Quiet Lakes. No other fish species has the potential to come within 100 pounds of these prehistoric monsters.

How did these lake sturgeon get here, and might there still be some monsters lurking in the depths of Teal or Lost Land lakes?

Lake sturgeon are native to the Chippewa River watershed. Even today, we have thriving populations of lake sturgeon in the mainstem Chippewa River below the Arpin Dam near Radisson, and in the East Fork Chippewa River upstream of the Winter Dam, which impounds the Chippewa Flowage. Prior to the construction of dams, lake sturgeon migrated hundreds of miles upstream to spawn on rocky riffles in the spring before returning downstream to large, river-connected lakes where they spent most of the year feeding on insect larvae off the lake bottom. This brought them far up the West Fork Chippewa River and its tributaries (like the Teal River) during the spawning season.

It is likely that several young fish inhabiting our river system got trapped upstream of the Winter Dam when it was built to create the Chippewa Flowage in 1923. Upstream migration of adults would have been impossible thereafter. The old rock dam that controls water levels in the Teal River Flowage (and therefore Teal and Lost Land lakes) would have been yet another barrier to upstream migration for fish trapped upstream of the Chippewa Flowage. The fish in our historical photo would have been 65 years old when found dead in 1988, assuming it had been stranded as a yearling by construction of the Winter Dam in 1923. That would have made it 95 years old had it lived to the present day.

Is it possible that we still have some huge, ancient lake sturgeon lurking in the depths of Teal or Lost Land lakes? As a lifelong fishery scientist, I have learned never to say never. Nature has a way of creating the occasional anomaly that defies all prior observation and experience. But in my opinion, any surviving lake sturgeon in Teal Lake or Lost Land Lake is highly unlikely. Maximum lifespan for lake sturgeon has been reported in the range of 80-100 years, but those estimates were made long ago using techniques that may not withstand scientific scrutiny today.

If you have any photos of exceptionally large fish caught in Teal, Lost Land, or Ghost lakes “back the the day” please let me know by e-mailing me at dneuswanger@gmail.com. Thanks again to Merle Sampson for providing this old clipping and to Bryan Neuswanger for making it presentable online.

PRESIDENT’S REPORT — FALL QUARTER, 2017

November 10, 2017 – Greetings from the blustery shores of Lost Land Lake! I assumed my new duties as president of our association in early August. Because we do not produce a newsletter, this website will be the main source for news (not fake, I promise) and events that affect all who care about Teal, Lost Land, and Ghost lakes. I hope to update site visitors quarterly on seasonally relevant news and information.

Tamarack trees reach their golden peak before losing their needles in the wetland complex between Lost Land and Teal lakes.

It has been an eventful, if short, fall season here on The Quiet Lakes. Mother Nature’s annual display of crimson maples, rusty oaks, and golden tamaracks appeared all too briefly before the harsh reality of winter arrived without prelude. We barely got our docks out of the water last weekend before ice began to form along the shoreline.

In September, our Executive Committee approved distribution of a poster that will help anglers on Teal and Lost Land lakes to confidently distinguish between largemouth bass and smallmouth bass (read full story on Fishing Regulations page). Our intent was to support recent changes made by Wisconsin DNR — encouraging increased harvest of largemouth bass while continuing to promote catch-and-release of smallmouth bass. At the October 23 meeting of the Quiet Lakes Tourism Association, I provided 62 laminated copies of this poster (Bass ID and Harvest Guidance Poster) for neighboring businesses to display at private boat ramps and other locations highly visible to area guests, including fish cleaning houses and resort cabins. I appreciate their support. As a former professional fishery manager, I understand the power of good information to influence harvest patterns. Most anglers want to do the right thing to improve fishing, whether mandated or voluntary, but they need to know how their harvest decisions can help.

On September 14, QLIA Vice-President Norm Bratteig and Director-at-Large Steve Fiala joined me in sampling aquatic plants in five areas previously infested by Hybrid Eurasian Water Milfoil (HEWM) in northern bays of Lost Land Lake prior to treatment with Reward herbicide on June 20, 2017. Our most optimistic expectations were exceeded (read full story on Aquatic Plant Chemical Control page). HEWM was either eradicated or reduced to trace levels everywhere. Several desirable native species assumed dominance as vegetative growth redeveloped in post-treatment sample areas. The $6,023 treatment was so effective that the Executive Committee decided unanimously on October 19 to delay the onset of a pledge drive to raise the $70,000 needed to purchase a mechanical Eco-Harvester – our preferred method of long-term HEWM control. Before we ask members for that level of financial support, we want to know if small, affordable, infrequent spot-treatments with Reward herbicide will accomplish our HEWM control objectives in an environmentally acceptable manner. Next spring (2018) we plan to treat only a small acreage of HEWM in Steamboat Bay (not treated in 2017), then monitor all of Lost Land Lake to determine if chemical treatments have had a lasting effect or are just delaying the inevitable purchase of an expensive mechanical plant puller.

Terry Conroy (Boulder Lodge) and Nathan Knoche (Ghost Lake Lodge) report that previous fall stockings of large walleye fingerlings into Ghost Lake are starting to have a noticeable positive effect on the walleye population. Nathan forwarded the following graphic received from WDNR fishery biologist Max Wolter, showing the length distribution of walleyes captured during a WDNR electrofishing survey in early September. Ghost Lake Walleyes – Fall 2017

On September 21-22, the Wisconsin DNR stocked healthy extended-growth (6-8”) walleye fingerlings into Teal Lake. Actual numbers have not yet been posted in WDNR’s online fish stocking database, but Teal and Ghost lakes were both slated for stockings of 10 fish per acre every other year (in odd years) as part of a long-term, multi-lake study of the efficacy of various stocking rates. Victoria Ross of Ross’ Teal Lake Rentals facilitated vehicular access for the WDNR crew from Thompson Hatchery in Spooner. She and I personally escorted (in dip nets) thousands of walleyes from the truck to the lake. Thanks for your help, Victoria!

WDNR fish culturists from the Thompson Hatchery in Spooner test water quality in hauling tanks before releasing 6-8″ walleyes into Teal Lake on September 21, 2017.
Victoria Ross provided vehicular access and onsite assistance to the WDNR hatchery crew.

On September 25, I accompanied the Hayward Fish Team of the Wisconsin DNR on a nighttime electrofishing survey around the perimeter of Lost Land Lake to assess the survival of 3.5-inch walleyes WDNR had stocked in August. For various reasons, there was little evidence of survival from that stocking (read full story on Fish Survey Summaries page). Thanks to Treasurer Gayle Little’s financial wizardry, QLIA had sufficient targeted funds and savings from other sources to buy 6,544 extended-growth (6-8”) walleye fingerlings (5 per acre) from a private hatchery at a total cost of $11,779 – partially offset by generous contributions from Walleyes for Northwest Wisconsin ($2,500) and the Quiet Lakes Tourism Association ($1,500). These healthy fish were stocked at the public boat landing on Lost Land Lake on October 23 (read full story on Fish Stocking page).

Also on October 23, I learned from a WDNR facility maintenance technician that the boat landing in Landing Camp Bay will be closed to public use for an estimated 6-8 weeks during a major reconstruction project next spring and early summer, starting sometime the week after Memorial Day weekend. Years of ice movement and power loading by boaters (creating a massive scour hole off the deep lip of the concrete boat ramp) has created a hazardous facility that can no longer be maintained efficiently and must now be renovated. There is no convenient time to do it while the weather is warm enough to pour and cure concrete.

How will boaters get their watercraft in and out of Lost Land Lake during the shut-down period, which will likely include the 4th of July? This question was pondered by members of the Quiet Lakes Tourism Association on the evening of October 23. One of the resort owners confidentially expressed to me a potential interest in having the general public redirected to their private access during the shut-down period, provided WDNR is willing to expedite the permit required for a previously planned upgrade to their boat ramp before Memorial Day weekend. The deal is not yet done, but I am cautiously optimistic that lake residents and visitors will have a satisfactory point of access for launching boats and parking while the public boat landing in Landing Camp Bay is under reconstruction. Details will be posted here when available.

Our new Secretary, Gail Nicholson, has drafted the Minutes from our July 15, 2017 Annual Meeting at Boulder Lodge. Posting these provisional Minutes on our website gives members an opportunity to review them well in advance of our next annual meeting. Please feel free to suggest changes that we can read and discuss prior to a vote for approval in July of 2018 (read 2017 provisional Minutes here). Thanks for being on top of this, Gail!

That’s all the news that’s fit to post. Having recently completed a thorough review and reorganization of QLIA files, I am now aware of the many responsibilities we have as an organization, and the many opportunities we have to improve these special lakes. My winter-quarter report will likely include specific requests for volunteer assistance, so please watch for that in late January or early February. For now, break out your orange outerwear (firearms deer season November 18-26), put another log on the fire, and secure the outhouse door. Winter is coming!

Dave Neuswanger

If Keenai could speak, he would tell you, “Winter… is… coming!”
Photos by Bryan Neuswanger of Keenai Photography