A recent drawdown has resulted in less fish and more weeds for Lake Iola.
Proof of this change was presented to the Lake Iola Lake District at its March 25 meeting.
The 2013 fish survey results from the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources were presented by John Bertelson Jr., president of the Lake Iola Lake Protection & Rehabilitation District.
“We lost about 80 percent of our fish,” he said. “This matches what we hear from some of the people fishing on the lake.”
He compared the 2013 boom shocker survey results with the same type of survey of the lake from 2003. The recent survey showed: Black crappie – 10 (compared to 25 in 2003); bluegill – 32 (153); largemouth bass – 35 (83); northern pike – 2 (31); yellow perch 2 (10).
“We knew we lost fish,” Bertelson said. “This just confirms it.”
According to the DNR, the survey results indicate the drawdown hurt last year’s spawning. However, they expect a good spawning this year.
The DNR also plans to stock game fish in Lake Iola. No pan fish will be stocked because they expect these to replenish naturally.
“They appreciate what Iola did with the lake and they’re going to do all they can to help us,” Bertelson said.
He reported that the DNR expects it will take three to five years for the fish population to get back to pre-drawdown levels. They may do another fish survey later this year.
Lake district landowners are concerned about the abundance of weeds left after the drawdown.
According to Bertelson, the DNR may be willing to issue a blanket permit to the lake district, if enough landowners are interested. The type of weed control they will allow depends on how the lake looks this year.
Members of the lake district were concerned that the DNR will only issue a permit for invasive species when most of the landowners want permits for nuisance control.
Bertelson explained that the blanket permit would only be for individual weed control near the shores and that the DNR is issuing a separate invasive species control permit for the entire lake district.
The blanket chemical and-or mechanical control permit will allow for weed control in all 90 of the private parcels, with the 83 individual owners being responsible for the application and cost of the weed control.
The property owners will need to meet with a DNR representative for application approval. Because of liability issues, the chemicals should only be applied by a licensed operator.
Bertelson presented an update on the recent dam repairs.
“It has been repaired as best as it’s going to be,” he said. “And it looks like this project is finally getting behind us as far as the lake district is concerned.”
After the initial repairs, a different contractor was hired to repair the valve, according to Bertelson.
Representatives from Infratech removed, repaired and re-installed the valve in early November. They returned later that month to fix some of the still-existing leakage.
“It is never going to be perfectly sealed – that never was the intention,” Bertelson said, noting the valve will be re-checked sometime this spring.
Lake district members asked when the valve will be opened.
The final decision will be made by the village of Iola and Tom Fucik, owner of the mill and caretaker of the dam’s flowage. Bertelson said the intention is to use the valve as much as possible to keep the silt away from the dam.
“People want to see water running over the dam, but it won’t be the volume you saw before,” he said. “Most of the water will go through the drain, depending on how much water is coming into the lake.”
The membership asked if there was more water in the lake as a result of the drawdown. Bertelson replied “yes,” but they still need to monitor the levels.
“We are kind of re-learning the lake after the drawdown,” he said. “The valve will be used to help control the level of the lake to prevent flooding.”
According to preliminary depth survey results, there is more water in Lake Iola.
“We gained almost a foot of depth on the lower end,” Bertelson said. “But the biggest impact we’ve seen so far is on the upper end of the lake.”
He noted the DNR has not yet taken depth measurements of the upper end, and there is no recorded data for comparison.
He reminded the membership that the average depth of Lake Iola is four feet.
In other business, the board reported how the brat fry fund money was used to fund various things to benefit the community. They noted that usually this money is used for the annual children’s ice fishing contest, which has not been held for the past two years due to the lake drawdown.
Some of the brat fry money has been used to buy $10 worth of candy for the lake district’s float in the Lioness Christmas Parade, the purchase of three $10 chamber bucks for the Iola Winter Carnival raffle, and for a $100 donation to the River Walk project.
For more information on the Lake Iola Lake District, visit the village of Iola website at www.iolavillage.com.