QLIA’s 50-Year History Now Available in PDF Format
By Dave Neuswanger
July 4, 2018

In celebration of Independence Day, the Executive Committee of QLIA is pleased to announce that our 50-year history is now available to read HERE, ONLINE (click on bold blue link below). In May of 1997, Past-President Charlie Baumann completed the monumental task of summarizing significant events in the life of our organization from its inception in 1947 to the date of publication in 1997. Charlie was certainly one of the most active and influential members to ever serve and lead our organization, and we are forever in his debt for taking the time to “pass it on.”

The Quiet Lakes: A Golden Jubilee Historical Perspective, 1947-1997

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As a relatively new member of QLIA and the ExCom, this document provided me with invaluable perspective that enabled me to “hit the ground running” with greater confidence than I might have possessed otherwise. In the immortal words of Winston Churchill, “Those who fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it.” Well, some of our history actually may be worth repeating. But significant time and effort can be saved in the future by learning lessons from the past. Besides this obvious utilitarian value, it’s downright interesting to read about life here on The Quiet Lakes before most of us even knew they existed.

Thanks to QLIA Vice-President Norm Bratteig for scanning this large document into a format that could be shared online with everyone. We hope you enjoy reading our essential history.

By Dave Neuswanger
July 8, 2018

Thanks to Paul Mitchell, Managing Editor of the Sawyer County Record, we have permission to post the following photograph of what is surely one of the largest muskellunge caught in any of the Quiet Lakes. This “fish tale” originates at Ross’ Teal Lake Lodge, where founder W.R. Ross (far left in photo below) caught a 52-inch, 41-pound musky in Teal Lake that was presented for admiration to President Calvin Coolidge on July 5, 1928 while Coolidge was using Cedar Island Lodge on the Brule River as his Summer White House. (See article in the Northern Highlights Section of the July 4, 2018 issue of the Sawyer County Record).

Here’s the challenge: Does anyone have a reliable record (with photo) of a LARGER muskellunge ever being caught on Teal Lake? How about Lost Land and Ghost lakes? It seems likely that someone has caught a bigger one since the Ross musky was photographed with President Coolidge 90 years ago, but we’d love to see the proof. Send your story and photo(s) to Dave Neuswanger at dneuswanger@gmail.com.

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 its 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 freshwater fish species in northern Wisconsin has the potential to attain even half the weight 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.