The LCO Fishery

 

COLA's Fish Management Plan

The WDNR with COLA's help prepared a long-term Fish Management Plan for LCO in 2006. This plan guides fishery management efforts on big and little LCO, and the Billy Boy Flowage. The fishery management plan was based upon a shared vision that was developed by combining information from statewide angler surveys, onsite creel surveys, and interactive input from local stakeholders and tribes. 

 

LCO is a rare Two-Story Fishery

What makes Lac Courte Oreilles so special and a world-class fishing lake? It is a two-story, cold-water fishery, one of only 200 on Wisconsin. It's fragile, and it's threatened by excess phosphorus and oxygen depletion. For this reason, COLA and the LCO tribe have requested WDNR to list all of LCO as an impaired water.

See: 

Lac Courte Oreilles – a Rare and Fragile “Two-Story Fishery” by Frank Pratt

Tale of Two Cities - LCO's Two-Story Story by Frank Pratt

 

Esox Recovery Plan

The Esox Recovery Plan on Lac Courte Oreilles was introduced by the WDNR and is the joint effort of Muskies Inc., Walleyes Forever, the LCO Tribe, COLA, and the WDNR.

2017 Activities:

Kevin Horrocks (COLA) and Mike Persson (Muskie's Inc/COLA) stocking musky in Musky Bay of LCO.

Kevin Horrocks (COLA) and Mike Persson (Muskie's Inc/COLA) stocking musky in Musky Bay of LCO.

Mike Persson and Allen Hoeft loading pit tags at the WDNR hatchery in Spooner for tagging extended growth musky.

Mike Persson and Allen Hoeft loading pit tags at the WDNR hatchery in Spooner for tagging extended growth musky.

"This was a big year for fisheries activity on LCO. A collaborative effort between DNR, LCO Conservation Department, Hayward Lakes Chapter of Muskies Inc., and COLA resulted in the removal of 3,000 northern pike (average length around 20 inches) in the spring and the stocking of huge numbers of walleye and musky in the fall. The walleye stocking is needed, and we hope those fish will do well and be available to anglers as legal size fish in a few years (typically 4-5 to get to 15 inches). But I am particularly excited about the musky stocking. These fish were held in the hatchery longer than normal and were given extra feed purchased by Muskies Inc. That resulted in a higher average size which should improve survival. Each fish is carrying a tag that will allow us to track their growth and survival in LCO and will tell us if they move into any of the other connected lakes. That data will be very helpful as we try to restore the LCO musky population. The tags were purchased with a donation from COLA and Muskies Inc."

Totals for 2017:

Walleye: 28,353 "medium" fingerlings stocked in July (Avg. length 3-4 inches)
23,000 extended growth fingerlings stocked in October (Avg. length 6-8 inches)
3,474 large muskellunge fingerlings stocked in October (Avg. length 12.6 inches)

Max H. Wolter, Fisheries Biologist
Hayward Service Center, Bureau of Fisheries Management
Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources 

 

2016 fish die-off

In October 2016 there was a massive die-off of whitefish and cisco in LCO. Poor water conditions choked off the rare habitat. See a comprehensive report here.

 

Fish Surveys

2010 Survey

2014 Survey

2016-17 Creel Survey

 

 

Related Stories in Short Ears, Long Tales

Issue 4  Fishing Guide Art Malin and the 'one that got away'

Issue 11  'Keeping Lac Courte Oreilles in balance—Max Wolter knows what to do’

Issue 17  'Seining on Lac Courte Oreilles'