Following is the update of the fish management programs we initiated in our lakes in 1990. Jeff Roth, through his firm, AQUA TECH OF WISCONSIN, has been working closely with us to enhance and maintain the existing fisheries in our lakes in an effort to provide quality fishing experiences for you, both for the present and in the future as well.
Long Lake is managed primarily for walleyes, with a secondary emphasis on the musky population. As an annual minimum, on an every other year basis alternating with Little Bass, he performs either a spring walleye population index which gives us an accurate estimate of the adult walleyes in the lake, or a spring adult walleye population estimate which is a more detailed survey of the population. On an every second or third year basis, he also performs a fall walleye recruitment assessment for each lake which judges the effectiveness of the previous spring’s spawn by counting the fingerlings, or young-of-the-year. This count will weigh heavily in his recommendation to us whether to stock or not.
Stocking record as of 2011
2011 100 gallons fat heads* 2500 Walleyes*
2012 400 gallons fat heads 2400 Walleyes 3800 Suckers*
2013 100 gallons fat heads 2500 Walleyes 625 Suckers
2014 100 gallons fat heads 2500 Walleyes
This year Jeff completed his walleye population index survey just after ice-out, using his electro-fishing boat to collect his samples. Comparing 2014’s results with each year beginning with 2001, we are seeing significant improvement in the size of the structure; in 2001 52% of the adult population was under 13” while in 2014only 1%was under 13”. This should equate to better angler success of more quality fish and improved harvest opportunity. His fall walleye recruitment survey found no evidence of successful spring spawning, although he did sample a number of yearling walleyes which appeared in very good condition with good growth. These fish probably were part of the stockings we did in 2013. Due to the lack of natural reproduction last spring, he recommended we stock 2500 fingerlings which we did on October 23rd. Creel surveys we post in the fish cleaning house showed a total of 663 walleyes were caught and 223 of these were kept, which compares with 293 caught in 2013 and 127 of those were kept.
Many of the lakes in the northern region of Wisconsin have experienced significant increases in the largemouth bass populations, and our lakes are no exception. In the “old days”, it was very unusual to catch a largemouth in Long Lake, but if you did it was a big one. Dog Lake and Dave Lake had bass, but Little Bass had virtually none. We have seen a dramatic increase in these populations in the past fifteen years, to the point where our guests are catching bass in all four lakes very consistently. This is good from the standpoint that largemouth bass are a good-eating sportfish and are a lot more fun to catch than rockbass, but maybe not so good from a balanced fisheries standpoint. What impact will these additional fish have on their neighboring species in our four lakes? Bass, walleyes and to a lesser extent perch, bluegills and rockbass all compete for the same forage; minnows and small fish. Even with our stocking of fathead minnows, we can’t meet this increased demand and something has to give. During the period from May 26th to June 11th, Jeff collected largemouth bass samples using his shocker boat in order to determine a population estimate of that fishery and compare it with an estimate he did in 2007. His comparison showed that the number of fish has practically doubled, and the average size has somewhat declined. He now feels he has the data to approach the state and request a size limit exemption on the largemouth bass caught in Long Lake. He has started this ball rolling and we are now awaiting the state’s reply.
Little Bass Lake is managed for walleyes, and Jeff does the annual spring walleye population estimate of adults and juveniles or the adult walleye index (depending upon the alternating year study with Long Lake). He also has been doing the fall walleye recruitment assessment, but we have decided to do this every third 3rd year or so since Little Bass shows propensity for not having successful walleye spawning.
Stocking record as of 2011
2011 12 gallons fatheads 600 walleyes
2012 25 gallons fatheads 600 walleyes
2013 50 gallons fatheads 800 walleyes
2014 50 gallons fatheads 800 walleyes
2014 update2014 update
Jeff Conducted the adult walleye population estimate using his fyke nets beginning May 5th. He found that the walleyes’ spawning activity peaked shortly after ice out, so he hit it just right and felt he had collected a good representation of the population. He estimates there are 387 adult walleyes in Little Bass which comes out to 6.7 per acre. This is fewer than in past studies, but the average per acre is above the average for comparable lakes in the northern part of the state. In addition, Size structure and distribution remain very good, with 6% of the sample measuring over 18” and the average size fish being close to 16”. As has been the case over the past several years, his fall assessment showed no evidence of natural walleye reproduction from the spring’s spawning. Because of this, he suggested we stock 800 fingerlings in the fall and we did that on October 23rd. On October 7th, we also put in 50 gallons of fathead minnows (which comes out to be about 50,000 minnows depending upon size) in Little Bass to feed all the hungry mouths. From the numbers on the creel survey sheets, 15 walleyes were taken from Little Bass which is comparable to other years. We are managing this walleye fishery from sustainable harvest of large size fish, and although the number of fish has dropped off from previous population estimate surveys, we feel Little Bass is a pretty good walleye fishery.
Dog Lake is managed primarily for bluegills, with a secondary emphasis on the largemouth bass population. We are continuing to attempt to bring the bluegill fishery back into balance as we have been doing for the past several years. Six years ago Jeff found the fishery consisted of mostly large bluegills with very few small ones and virtually none that were very small. He attributed this to the crappies and bass eating the young bluegills.
Stocking record as of 2011
2012 25 gallons fatheads
2013 25 gallons fatheads 700 bluegills*
2014 25 gallons fatheads
Jeff again surveyed the bluegill population in the spring of 2014 in order to evaluate its relative abundance and size structure. The good news is the size structure is exceptional with 77% of the sample measuring 7” or larger. This compares with 95% last year and 100% in 2012, 2010, and 2009 – it’s good to have bigger fish but a healthy size distribution must include small ones as well and 23% of the sample was less than 7”, probably reflecting to some extent our stockings in 2011 and 2013. The bad news is the numbers of bluegills he netted for his samples were down considerably. Each time he checked his fyke nets last spring he only averaged 7 bluegills which is far less than the 19 lift in 2013, 37 in 2012, 26 in 2011, and so forth. He attributes this decline to both natural mortality and over harvest. Based on these results, he recommends a 5 bluegill limit per person per day, and we will do this. We will also continue to encourage the harvest of crappies and bass and our stocking of both bluegills and minnows to support the forage base. Because of the increased number of small bluegills in his sample, he did not recommend stocking additional bluegills last fall, but we did put 25 gallons of fathead minnows in. He will also continue to collect data on the largemouth bass fishery in Dog Lake, and if warranted will approach the state to remove the size limit as we are trying to do in Long Lake.
Dave Lake is managed as a two story fishery; the top story or warm water fishery consists of the native crappies, largemouth bass and bluegills, while the lower story or cold water fishery is composed of the non-native brown and rainbow trout which we have stocked over the years. Although there are still plenty of bluegills, crappies, and bass present, our emphasis over the past several years has been to establish an abundant rainbow trout population in order to offer our guests the opportunity to not only catch another species of fish here at Boyd’s but also be able to take home some fish dinners.
Stocking record as of 2011
2011 900 rainbow trout*
2012 900 rainbow trout
2013 900 rainbow trout
2014 900 rainbow trout
We have stocked 900 rainbow trout measuring 10” each year for the past four years including last year, these fish supplement lesser numbers that we had been stocking since 2000. I’m happy to report that Dave Lake experienced the best trout harvest ever, according to the creel survey in the fish cleaning house. There were a total of 430 trout harvested in 2014 compared with 315 in 2013 and 158 in 2011. We will continue to supplement this fishery by stocking both rainbow trout and forage minnows; we hope that we can continue the success you’re having.
*fatheads – these are forage for all fish and on average there are about 900 minnows per gallon *walleyes – these are an average of 7” and are added to increase the walleye population *suckers – these are between 6” and 8” and are forage for musky *rainbow trout – these are around 10” and are added to increase the rainbow trout population. *bluegills – these are between 2 and 3 inches and are added to increase the bluegill population