What’s in a word? Well, if the word is “inaccessible” and it’s used in media reports about Wisconsin lakes just before Memorial Day weekend, quite a lot. Dave Neuswanger, DNR Fisheries Supervisor for a six county area in northwestern Wisconsin, says the popular Chippewa Flowage is down about a foot and a half. “Not as low as it has been at times past. It was lower than that last August . . . when it was still quite usable,” said Neuswanger. “The Turtle Flambeau Flowage is down a little bit more than that, but again still quite accessible. We’ve always advised people to be careful on those lakes, and we’re advising that they be particularly careful now with the water down. But anybody who has fished these lakes midsummer the past couple of years has fished them at even lower levels than they’re at currently.”
The “Big Chip” and Turtle Flambeau flowages are premier angling attractions in northern Wisconsin, and Neuswanger says fishing opportunities should be excellent. “We’ve got up to date information,” he said. “We have probably some of the best the fishing imaginable on both.” Other popular fishing lakes in the six county Upper Chippewa Basin are accessible as well. “Some of them are not down as much as the Chippewa and Turtle Flambeau flowages,” said Neuswanger, who added that the drought is having a significant impact on some of the small lakes in the region, with gravel boat ramps or carry-in access. He believes it would taken “an extraordinary drought for the rest of the summer” for access to become difficult on the larger lakes.