Are you looking to catch a 17-pound walleye in Wisconsin? Thanks for the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, you can now set your sights on Wazee Lake, which is located near Black River Falls.
On December 16, a Department of Natural Resources fisheries crew netted and released a walleye that weighed 17.5 pounds and was 32.3 inches long! The Badger state-record walleye is an 18-pounder caught in 1933 on High Lake in Vilas County.
“It’s a rare day when you come up with a fish like this,” said Heath Benike, DNR fisheries supervisor. “It goes to show you never know what’s down there unless you do the work.”
A DNR crew of fisheries biologist Daniel Hatleli and fisheries technician Brad Betthauser caught the fish in a fyke net (a net shaped like a funnel).
The crew weren’t looking for game fish, such as walleye, but were checking for the number of cisco, a forage species.
The 146-acre lake was the site of the former Jackson County Iron Mine quarry. The mine was in operation from the early 1960s until April of 1983. It is s recognized as the deepest inland lake in Wisconsin with a maximum depth of 355 feet. Visibility in the lake averages 30- to 40 feet during the summer months, according to blackriverfalls.com.
The DNR stocks the lake every year with trout, both rainbow and brown. It also has periodically planted bluegill, black crappie, largemouth bass, and walleye. And in an effort to boost the forage base of the lake, two years ago it started a modest program to stock ciscoes, according to the Paul Smith, of the Milwaukee Journal/Sentinel Online. Ciscoes are a native member of the herring family found in inland lakes in Wisconsin as well as the Great Lakes. They prefer cool to cold water such as that found in Wazee.
If successful, the cisco will establish a long-term, self-sustaining population of prey fish, which will in turn support larger populations of faster-growing game fish. The DNR transferred about 250 ciscoes to Wazee from a Vilas County lake over the last two years, Benike said.
(Top Photo: Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources fisheries technician Brad Betthauser holds a 17.5-pound walleye that was netted December 16 in Lake Wazee in Jackson County. The unofficial weight of the fish is one-half pound short of the state record set in 1933.)