Drought conditions take toll on lakesDrought conditions in northwestern Wisconsin are the worse they’ve been for 25 years.
By: Joe Cadotte, Wisconsin Public Radio, Superior Telegram
Drought conditions in northwestern Wisconsin are the worse they’ve been for 25 years. Dozens of lakes are now inaccessible, including parts of Turtle Flambeau and Chippewa Flowages.
Water levels in inland lakes and rivers in northwestern Wisconsin have been declining since 2003. Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources fish biologist Skip Sommerfeldt in Park Falls says lakes are down 4 to 18 inches compared to last year. He says some lakes have been eight to ten feet below normal, with many boat accesses unusable.
Sommerfeldt says that’s not just a few lakes, that includes dozens of lakes.
Assistant state climatologist Edward Hopkins says drought cycles commonly happen every three to four years.
Although Hopkins has records of drought cycles that change from decade to decade, Sommerfeldt found some trees that tell a very different story of the past.
He says on many of the exposed shorelines, there are old stumps that suggest 50 to 100 years of low water levels, “where an 8-inch diameter tree was able to take root and grow.”
Low water levels can make a bumpy ride for anglers. Hayward Power Sports sales manager Brent Schroeder says business is up 30-percent from last year. He gets dozens of calls per weeks from anglers with damaged boats. While droughts are bad news for boats, Hopkins says they make for excellent fishing. As shorelines recede, fish are forced to deeper water. So, less water means a higher concentration of fish.