A project in the works for several years will make area trout anglers happy.
Work is slated to begin soon on a trout habitat improvement project on the Waupaca River in Waupaca’s Riverview Park.
“We plan to finally start the Waupaca River project, which has been in the works for almost five years,” said Al Niebur, a state Department of Natural Resources fisheries biologist based in Shawano who was instrumental in getting the project off the ground.
“After extensive meetings with the city and landowners, special species concern and archaeological reviews and a flooding analysis, I was finally able to obtain permits,” he said. “We hope to start the main part of the project Aug. 15. There may be some preparatory work that will start in the next few days, too.”
Niebur, who developed the proposal with input from the city and local Trout Unlimited chapters, said the project’s goals are to:
• Develop a showcase demonstration area that can educate anglers and other citizens on various trout habitat restoration techniques.
• Provide instream habitat for trout and other species that use the area, such as wood and Blanding’s turtles.
• Provide better fishing access for physically challenged anglers.
“This area was identified for habitat work since it receives heavy use and angling pressure and would provide the most exposure to local citizenry,” Niebur wrote in his plan.
TU member Jim Hlaban of Ogdensburg has been involved since the project’s inception.
“The Fox Valley, Hornburg, Shawpaca and Central Wisconsin chapters of Trout Unlimited together conceived of this project to augment the beauty of Riverview Park while improving fish habitat in the area and enhancing access to the Waupaca River for handicapped individuals,” he said. “This project will also serve as a means to educate the public about what Trout Unlimited and the Department of Natural Resources actually does to improve fish Habitat in streams.”
A DNR crew out of Wild Rose will complete the instream habitat work, with DNR habitat crew supervisor Shawn Sullivan overseeing the construction activities.
Plans call for deepening the river bottom near the current amphitheater and adding bank cover and large boulders; adding soil and/or rip/rap along the east bank; and constructing a park walkway.
An island will also be built to provide additional cover.
“This is a proven habitat restoration technique that has been utilized on several habitat projects in the Waupaca River,” Niebur wrote in his report.
“The habitat crew will implement the project, while Trout Unlimited will erect a kiosk presenting maps and information explaining what was done and why and showing where the structures are in the stream,” Hlaban said. “All of these structures are classic tools added to many area streams to enhance trout holding capacity by protecting fish from predators and keeping the stream bed clean, allowing more insects and other stream dwellers to flourish.
“Several sites will be created near fish-holding areas where folks in wheelchairs can get close to the waters edge, fish and land fish,” he said. “This effort will complement the Challenge the Outdoors Fishing Trail, just upstream from the park, created several years ago by the same chapters of Trout Unlimited, Waupaca city and county parks departments and a group called Challenge the Outdoors.”
Challenge the Outdoors is a Shiocton-based organization dedicated to serving recreational needs and desires of the physically challenged.
The Waupaca River originates in Portage County, where its known as the Tomorrow River. It’s name changes to the Waupaca after it crosses the county line between Amherst and Waupaca. It eventually flows into the Wolf River east of Weyauwega.
“The Waupaca/Tomorrow River is one of central Wisconsin’s premier trout streams,” Niebur wrote in his report. “The DNR has acquired several thousand acres of riparian land within the watershed to protect and restore coldwater fisheries. Recently, the Central Wisconsin Region of Trout Unlimited adopted the watershed as a focal point for their efforts in protecting and restoring trout habitat.”
The project entails about 500 feet of frontage and is expected to cost about $12,700, according to Niebur. The biggest share – $5,000 – is earmarked for fishing access structures.
“I’m really excited about this project,” Niebur said. “It will be an educational area and it should also provide some additional fishing opportunities. It should also complement our annual trout stocking.”