QLIA President’s Quarterly Report Archive

QLIA President's Quarterly Report Archive

By Dave Neuswanger
April 2, 2018

Greetings from the former site of “Ice Station Zebra.” That’s what I called the lonely red portable ice-fishing shelter my family maintained off Christy Point in Steamboat Bay of Lost Land Lake from mid-December until we removed it on the deadline date of March 18. My wife and son insisted on calling it “Ice Station Rudolph” because it stood out like the red nose on Santa’s reindeer. But what do they know? “Ice Station Zebra” seems a far more fitting name for this hint of civilization that invoked memories of the classic movie about Cold War drama on the Arctic pack ice.

During several ice-fishing excursions, we observed the typical winter pattern in fish distribution over the 20-foot-deep hole beneath Ice Station Zebra. Black crappies (most 8.0 to 9.5 inches long) started the winter feeding on invertebrates (mostly the larvae of tiny midge flies) on or near the bottom where water temperature was warmest (41F compared with 33F just beneath the ice). But as winter progressed, consumption of dissolved oxygen by aerobic bacteria consuming organic matter in the sediments forced all fish to suspend higher off the bottom where dissolved oxygen was high enough to sustain normal metabolic activity.

By January 28, most crappies were suspended at depths of only 10-12 feet below the ice surface. Dissolved oxygen concentration had fallen rapidly from 10.4 parts per million (ppm) 6 feet down, to 5.3 ppm 10 feet down (just enough to sustain normal fish activity), to only 1.6 ppm at a depth of 14 feet (not low enough to kill fish, but low enough to force fish to seek comfort closer to the surface). So crappies were filter-feeding on tiny plankton (water fleas and copepods) in the 10- to 12-foot depth range. As I type, I’m sure the fish are even higher in the water column, as dissolved oxygen is further depleted from the bottom-up under two feet of snow-covered ice. Fortunately, the Quiet Lakes are either deep enough or receive enough flow from incoming streams to avoid running out of dissolved oxygen altogether before the snow melts and the ice goes out.

How do we know this? Portable sonar revealed the location of fish suspended above the bottom. And thanks to QLIA’s recent purchase of a YSI Pro20 dissolved oxygen meter with 30-foot cable and polarographic probe for $1,087.75, we were able to test temperature and dissolved oxygen levels at various depths under the ice. This new instrument is essential for QLIA to resume monitoring dissolved oxygen and temperature at various depths during the open-water season in Lost Land, Teal, and Ghost lakes – part of a volunteer water quality monitoring program that lapsed during our period of turnover in QLIA leadership. More on that later…


On March 13, the QLIA Winter Executive Committee meeting was graciously hosted in Hayward by Treasurer Gayle Little. Gayle, Vice-President Norm Bratteig, and I met for two hours with speakerphone connections to Secretary Gail Nicholson and Director-at-Large Steve Fiala – both snowbirds who were enjoying the relatively balmy weather in Texas and Arizona, respectively. Our first order of business was to approve Minutes from our October 2017 EXCOM meeting. (Click here to view Fall 2017 ExCom Meeting Minutes.) Gail will submit Minutes of our March 13, 2018 meeting later this spring, but I am posting a few highlights below.

WDNR Spring Fishery Surveys and Operations: Spring of 2018 will be an exceptionally busy time for Wisconsin DNR fishery management and hatchery workers on Teal and Lost Land lakes. Lake residents can expect to see lots of activity that might otherwise cause concern; but most likely it will be our dedicated natural resource professionals doing their job on behalf of the fishing public.

Aquatic Invasive Species Management: The QLIA Excom decided at our March 13, 2018 meeting to spend up to $5,000 (75% reimbursable under WDNR’s continuing grant authorization) to map Hybrid Eurasian Water Milfoil in Steamboat Bay and treat it with Reward herbicide in late spring before the long stems of HEWM “top out” and begin to lay across the surface where they would be highly vulnerable to fragmentation and translocation. In late summer, we will return to areas treated in both 2017 and 2018 to qualitatively evaluate the extent of regrowth by HEWM and recovery by desirable native plants. JULY 2018 UPDATE: These plans had to be revised when it became apparent in late June, 2018 that HEWM had returned to significant levels in areas treated in 2017.

Public Boat Landing Renovation: The Wisconsin DNR has informed us that the public boat landing on Landing Camp Bay of Lost Land Lake will be closed to public use beginning the week of July 15, 2018 and extending 4-6 weeks until all work is completed (almost certainly by Labor Day weekend). A temporary, alternate point of public access is being arranged thanks to The Retreat on Lost Land Lake. (Click here to view full story under Latest News.)

Water Quality Monitoring: An article appearing in the November 29, 2017 edition of the Sawyer County Record listed Teal Lake as one of several others in Sawyer County that continue to be included on a list of “impaired” waters WDNR submits to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) every other year as authorized under Section 303(d) of the Clean Water Act of 1972. I do not believe Teal Lake belongs on this list. I had several e-mail exchanges with WDNR program officials and their lead scientist regarding my concerns over the transparency and accuracy of Teal Lake’s inclusion on the impaired waters list. My former colleagues have been polite and professional but unyielding in defense of this listing. This is a very complex subject, but I will attempt to explain what we know, why I disagree with WDNR’s decision, and what I think we should do to get Teal Lake off the list of impaired waters in the future.

We are gearing up to resume QLIA participation in WDNR’s Clean Lakes Monitoring Network, hence our recent purchase of a new hand-held meter for measuring temperature and dissolved oxygen at various depths. Prospective volunteers should read the full story on the Water Quality page about the Teal Lake “impaired waters” listing (unavoidably long and dripping with technical detail) in order to understand the important implications of our volunteer efforts.

QLIA Governance: I posed a question to the ExCom regarding our traditional committee structure. Committees in general can turn people off due to fears of “meeting for the sake of meeting” and assuming obligations beyond one’s capacity to fulfill. We also acknowledged that in most committees, one person (the chair) does most of the work. Why not, then, designate “program leaders” rather than “committee chairs,” and ask all interested members to join a “pool” of prospective volunteers with select interests? Joining “the pool” would not commit a prospective volunteer to any regularly scheduled meetings or activities, and it would not restrict their areas of interest. Instead, volunteers could pick and choose the activities they have the time and interest to participate in; and it would be the responsibility of “program leaders” to contact folks in “the pool” to help with specific events or tasks on an ad hoc basis. This could be facilitated by an active online roster with contact information for volunteers in the pool. Steve Fiala informed us of a very successful program in the Sonora Desert that is based on this model of volunteer engagement. This new model for QLIA operations will be discussed and presented for adoption at our General Membership Meeting this summer.

QLIA Website: The EXCOM is pleased with the extent to which our new website allows us to communicate more effectively with our members. We are concerned about those members who do not access the Internet for information, but we simply cannot afford to communicate as often as necessary by using traditional media (for example, printed newsletters delivered by mail). We hope our “non-wired” members can find a family member or friend who is connected to the online world and is willing to print or otherwise pass along stories of interest.

The EXCOM agreed that we should create a new History tab on our home page menu bar, where the first and most important posting will be a scanned PDF version of Charlie Baumann’s Golden Jubilee Historical Perspective, 1947-1997. Norm Bratteig is working on scanning one of the few remaining spiral-bound print copies of this document. We all owe Past-President Charlie Baumann a debt of gratitude for amassing this wonderful 35-page summary of events that shaped the organization we are today. The EXCOM agreed to eventually discontinue the Blogsite created and maintained by Rex Clevenger after we’ve had time to transfer and incorporate historically important and interesting postings/photos into the website proper. This may take a few months. We thank Rex for many years of facilitating group communication at the Blogsite until we had the opportunity to develop a full-blown website.

Treasurer Gayle Little has revised our membership application forms for 2018. Those should appear as downloadable and printable PDFs on our Membership Page here. Gayle and I will also be working on a system for acknowledging online the donations we receive from members above and beyond their dues payments. We realize some folks may wish their philanthropy to remain anonymous, and will develop a system that honors such wishes.

Winter lingers in the form of an “advection fog” above the snow-covered ice of Teal Lake. PHOTO BY: Donna Nickel – January 20, 2018

By Dave Neuswanger
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