Tickets recently went on sale for two local ice fishing contests. The Stanley Rod and Gun Club will be sponsoring their 26th Annual Otter Lake Fishing Contest to be held on Saturday, January 15, 2022 10:30 a.m. 3:00 p.m. $480 will be awarded for 6 categories of fish caught. Grand prize will feature an electric ice auger. First prize will be a Savage Axis.270 synthetic rifle; 2nd prize, a Mossberg Patriot.243 wood rifle; 3rd prize $300; 4th prize $200; 5th prize $100; followed by 20 prize drawings of $50 each. Need not be present to win drawing prizes. Miscellaneous attendance prize drawings will require being present to win.
Tickets for the event are $10 each or a book of 3 tickets for $20. Tickets may be purchased from Oemig’s Sports Shop or Otter Lake Bait and Camp Store.
DNR Wants Local Spotlight on Pike Lake
Not mentioned as often as Otter Lake or Chapman Lake, there is a lake located in Chippewa County’s Township of Colburn called Pike Lake. Larger than Chapman Lake, but considerably smaller than Otter Lake, 189 acre Pike Lake is known for a decent population of pan fish and largemouth bass.
Throughout the past couple of years, Pike has been on the Department of Natural Resources radar. A resolution presented by Cadott native Ken Arneson was submitted and passed at the 2017 Chippewa County Conservation Congress Spring Hearing requesting a 14-18 inch slot size limit for largemouth bass on Pike Lake. The proposal indicated a severe problem with stunted growth factors within the lakes largemouth bass population.
Forwarded to the Congress’s Warm Water Study Committee and with DNR recommendations, the resolution was placed on the 2018 spring hearing proposals for statewide approval where it passed and was implemented in the spring of 2020. The rule allows for a bag limit of 5 largemouth bass by which 5 under the length of 14 inches may be harvested or 4 under the length of 14 inches and 1 over 18 inches in length may be harvested.
According to DNR Fisheries Biologist Joe Gerbyshak, a number of fisherman along with Pike Lakes Bass Club, informed him about continuously catching numbers of undersize large- mouth bass in Pike Lake. In 2014, Gerbyshak and his Eau Claire fisheries crew conducted a survey on the lake. During the survey, numerous bass in the 8-11 inch range were captured and scale samples taken for aging. Only one bass over 14 inches was captured. “After that survey, capturing only one legal bass, I figured the lake could only be affected by two factors. Number 1: Anglers keep all bass over 14 inches in length or, Number 2: the lake has a serious slow growth factor”, he said. After aging a majority of 11 inch largemouth bass, the team discovered the average age to be 9 or 10 years old. Normally 9 or 10 year old bass in most lakes average 17-18 inches in length.
In 2018, the fisheries crew did another survey. The results were comparable to the 2014 survey indicating slow growth factors. 13 inch bass averaged 13 years of age, while one 15inch bass was captured and aged to be 16 years old. During that survey, crappies averaged approximately 8 inches and bluegills averaged 5.4 inches. A number of 7.5 inch bluegills were captured. 20 percent of the bluegills captured were over 7 inches in length.
Recently I had a conversation with Ken Arneson who is a member of the Pike Lake Bass Club and avid Pike Lake supporter. Asked if he thought the slot size rule is helping increase Pike Lake’s largemouth bass size structure, he said “I’ve caught a few bass recently in the 14-17 inch category. It seems to be improving and a number of fishermen are catching and keeping bass under 14 inches.” He indicated that he feels the bass size structure started to deteriorate in Pike Lake after the DNR implemented the statewide 14 inch legal size rule for largemouth bass a number of years ago. “It seemed like I caught a fair number of 4 pound or greater bass before that rule was implemented”, he added.
According to Gerbyshak, no one really knows if the new largemouth bass slot size regulations are helping size structure at Pike Lake or not. He said a survey will take place in 2023 to determine progress. He further indicated it will likely take 10 years to see real progress. 4 years is not likely a long enough time period to see major changes, but the survey should indicate if it is starting to show size structure progress.
Gerbyshak asked me to inform and encourage people to harvest smaller bass at Pike Lake during the upcoming ice fishing season. Although many people do not believe that bass make good table fare, largemouth bass are actually a member of the sunfish family and are in fact, pretty good eating, especially out of cold water.
to the Stanley-Boyd High School Honor Society to aide in financial assistance for decorat ing Chapman Parks Winter Wonderland. The presentation took place this past Saturday at the Winter Wonderland’s debut ceremony. Submitted photo.