Voluntary compliance with well-conceived fishing regulations is by far the most important action anglers can take to ensure the future quality of fishing in the Quiet Lakes. Wisconsin DNR fishery management professionals have changed various seasons, bag limits, and length limits in recent years in order to improve the odds of achieving fishery objectives established in the 2018 Fishery Management PLan for Teal and Lost Land Lakes. Resort owners are asked to share these updates with their guests, and all Quiet Lakes anglers are asked to review and comply with the current fishing regulations. Statewide regulations apply to Ghost Lake. Some special regulations apply to Teal and Lost Land (click on the PDF link below).
QLIA Board Approves Bass Identification Poster and Harvest Guidance
In September of 2017, the Executive Committee of the Quiet Lakes Improvement Association produced a poster that will help anglers on Teal and Lost Land lakes to confidently distinguish between largemouth bass and smallmouth bass (click on PDF link below). 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.
Until 2014, largemouth bass and smallmouth bass were treated the same from a regulatory standpoint. A bass was a bass, regardless of species. On the Quiet Lakes and throughout the Northern Bass Zone, bass were protected from the first Monday in March through the third Friday in June, and all bass less than 14 inches long had to be released immediately after being caught. These highly restrictive harvest regulations allowed largemouth bass populations to expand greatly over time, much to the dismay of Quiet Lakes anglers who strongly preferred a walleye-dominated fishery.
Starting in 2014, the early “catch-and-release-only” season was removed for largemouth bass but retained for smallmouth bass. And starting in 2016 on Teal and Lost Land lakes, the 14-inch minimum length limit was removed for largemouth bass but retained for smallmouth bass. Both these changes were consistent with our desire to reduce numbers of largemouth bass (and their potentially negative impact on walleyes) while maintaining or increasing smallmouth bass (which are fun to catch and are not known to eat or compete with walleyes). The harvest guidance poster was developed in order to help anglers distinguish between these species with confidence, and to understand why it is important to harvest and consume largemouth bass while releasing smallmouth bass in order to sustain a catch-and-release bass fishery compatible with walleyes.
Lost Land Lake has a relatively high number of 4-year-old largemouth bass going into the 2019 fishing season. These fish average only 10-11 inches in length, and anglers may be tempted to release them because “Nobody keeps bass that small.” But please ask yourself, “Would I keep and eat a 10-inch yellow perch?” If the answer is “Yes,” then why not treat small, overabundant largemouth bass the same way? Think of them as panfish. They are EXCELLENT table fare at that age and size — virtually indistinguishable from yellow perch, which most people view as a delicacy. Harvesting your limit of 5 largemouth bass 10 inches long would provide a delicious meal to satisfy even the largest appetite. Culling the crop of these 4-year-old largemouth bass will also reduce competitive interactions with walleyes and allow remaining largemouth bass to grow faster and get bigger to provide greater thrills for those of us who enjoy catching them.
The Wisconsin Smallmouth Alliance (WSA) produces an excellent poster encouraging anglers to “Free The Fighter” — a statewide campaign to promote voluntary catch-and-release of smallmouth bass of all sizes. Many anglers agree that “smallies” are among the most vigorous and persistent fighters of any freshwater game fish. Thanks to our friends at WSA, these posters will appear at various points of access around the Quiet Lakes in 2019 and beyond.
A common myth is that largemouth bass are not good to eat. Nonsense! Largemouth bass are fine food fish when harvested from the clean, cool waters of Teal and Lost Land lakes in spring, summer, and fall. For a heart-healthy recipe that will have you routinely adding largemouth bass to your Friday night fish fries, click on the following link, provided courtesy of Sandy Neuswanger.
Click on the PDF link below to learn why maintaining a thriving walleye fishery depends on our willingness to keep and eat largemouth bass of all sizes, while voluntarily releasing even legal-size smallmouth bass (14-inch minimum) in order to maintain a fun bass fishery that will not interfere with walleye production. Caution: This document contains technical jargon appropriate for a scientific audience trained in aquatic ecology, but all interested readers should enjoy learning the basic principles and findings.