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July 19, 2019

Jacob friede/lakeland timesGary Berwald, of Chuck’s Excavating and Restoration, gets ready to drop a load of rocks into Lake Minocqua to build up a walleye spawning bed.
Jacob friede/lakeland times

Gary Berwald, of Chuck’s Excavating and Restoration, gets ready to drop a load of rocks into Lake Minocqua to build up a walleye spawning bed.

6/22/2019 7:27:00 AM
Walleyes for Tomorrow improves spawning habitat on Lake Minocqua
Pitlik and Wick donates 180,000 pounds of rock
Jacob Friede
Of the Lakeland Times

Walleye habitat on Lake Minocqua received a ton of help this past week, literally, as 180,000 pounds of rocks were placed into Stacks Bay on Tuesday to form a fresh spawning bed for walleye. The project was initiated and funded by Walleyes for Tomorrow (WFT) as part of its efforts to enhance the walleye fishery on the Minocqua Chain of Lakes.

Using a barge, a crew from Chuck's Excavating and Restoration of Manitowish Waters shipped load after load of rocks onto the lake and with the use of a backhoe, which was also transported on the barge, deposited them to create a 12-foot wide by 150-foot long reef. The rocks, donated by Pitlik and Wick Contractors, also of Manitowish Waters, were 2 to 6 inches in diameter, which, as opposed to small gravel, is the ideal size for walleye spawning.

"We use a certain size, like 2 to 6 inches, and the reason for this is there's more voids for the eggs to fall into. So then other critters aren't eating eggs," said Chuck Kramer, owner of Chuck's Excavating and member of Walleyes for Tomorrow.

Kramer said the location for the new reef in Stacks Bay was chosen because it was historically a prime spawning bed.

"That area got silted over from wind, and the rocks kind of filled in over the years with sand," he said. "It used to be one of the best spots for spawning and now we're just adding more rock to create a better spawning area like it used to be."

An even distribution of rocks was the goal, but that was tricky, Kramer said, because the bottom stirred up after each load of rocks was dropped, making it difficult to see how they settled.

"Tomorrow (Wednesday) when we come back all the murk will be gone and we'll be able to see if there's areas that we neglected and we can put more there," he said.

The new reef, which juts out off of Crescent Island, makes an already shallow area shallower, but it is marked with buoys for boater's safety.

In 2018, WFT created a similar reef, but that time it was done during the winter and the rocks were placed on the ice and left to drop in when the ice melted.

WFT's habitat improvement efforts are part of an extensive rehabilitation plan currently in place on the Minocqua Chain. In addition, there has also been extensive walleye stocking and, since 2015, a no harvest rule for walleye on the entire chain.

The rehab plan on the Minocqua Chain has been the result of a productive collaboration between WFT, the Lac du Flambeau Band, the Great Lakes Indian Fish and Wildlife Commission, and the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources.

Jacob Friede may be reached at or outdoors@

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