Fish and Aquatic Life
Baseline Monitoring Survey: 2003: Site Seq No130222; CountyBAYFIELD; StationNamNORTH FISH CREEK - STATION 1 - AT TOWN DUMP ROAD; WBIC2888000; Srvy Seq No81382; Primary Survey PurposeBASELINE MONITORING; Targetfish CodeZ100 ; Survey StatusDATA ENTRY COMPLETE AND PROOFED;Sample Date08-27-2003; Gear TypeBACKPACK SHOCKER; Distance Shocked: Dist Units 356.80 METERS: BLACKNOSE DACE 2 BROWN TROUT 50 COHO SALMON 149 RAINBOW TROUT 247
Author Aquatic Biologist
North Fish Creek is part of the South Shore Fish and Wildlife Area, a WDNR land acquisition and management project with a goal of purchasing 4,258 acres from willing sellers in this watershed, encompassing North Fish Creek, Pine Creek, Little Pine Creek, Lake Louise and Fish Creek Slough. This stream has one of the few self-sustaining migratory trout and salmon runs in the state, but is threatened by land use practices in the watershed, primarily extensive agriculture and potential logging activities. Fisheries managers report a declining fishery over the last 20 years; this fishery is thought to have contributed up to 15 percent of the total migratory fishery in Wisconsin waters of Lake Superior through its production of rainbow and brown trout, coho salmon and northern pike (Davis). Fish Creek and its tributaries account for 20 percent of the state's self-sustaining migratory fisheries; a recent survey estimated that 47,000 one-year-old migratory trout and young-of-year coho salmon are presently produced in the river system.
This watershed supports a diverse population of reptiles and amphibians, including rare wood turtles in the slough areas at the river mouth, as well as white-tailed deer, black bear, beaver, woodcock and snowshoe hare, and numerous migratory birds (Davis).
The 1,100-acre headwaters area for the creek is one of the few remaining examples of true boreal forest in Wisconsin. The upper reach of North Fish Creek flows through a severely eroded channel with steep gradient, narrow valley and large, highly erodible bluffs with abundant springs in a reach dominated by boulders, cobble, gravel and sand bottom. A widening floodplain and valley characterize the middle reach, where the stream bottom becomes more sand and occasional gravel. The lower eight miles is characterized by low gradient, a wide valley and predominately sand with minor gravel. The creek drains mostly red clay and sand soils; the clay component of this soil type allows little water to be absorbed. The majority of erosion in North Fish Creek is attributed to 10 steep, eroding bluffs along the main stem above the confluence with Pine Creek (Fitzpatrick 19981). These bluffs contribute about 15,000 tons of sediment per year. The bluffs contain about 50 percent sand-sized particles (Fitzpatrick 19982).
This stream has had a history of devastating floods that almost strangled the stream course and left raw banks and debris that periodically slide into the stream. Most of the streambank pastureland is unfenced (Pratt 1977). In areas, the stream bottom consists of shifting sands. In places, banks have become exposed sand and gravel washes. Farming in the watershed increases the potential for flooding, since rain falls directly on the impermeable clay soils rather than being absorbed in the undergrowth of forested areas, or diffused by the canopy (Davis). In addition, snowmelt occurs more rapidly in areas lacking forest cover. Climax woody species such as firs, pines and maple provide the best erosion control due to stronger root systems, full canopy and the relationship between these tree types and soil moisture (Davis).
The annual sediment load carried by North Fish Creek in 1990, taken from a station in the lower nine miles, was 20,690 tons; in 1991 the load was 33,100 tons, with most of the load made up of sand-sized particles (Rose). Upstream stations registered lower amounts with lower percentages of sand, with the most upstream station measuring only 479 tons as the average annual load with almost all of it transported during snowmelt and rainfall, made up primarily silt and clay particles (Rose).
From: Turville-Heitz, Meg. 1999. Lake Superior Basin Water Quality Management Plan. Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, Madison, WI.
Author Aquatic Biologist
The North Fish Creek (Hwy 2 to Section 18) was assessed during the 2018 listing cycle; total phosphorus sample data clearly met the 2018 WisCALM listing thresholds for the Fish and Aquatic Life use. Available biological data did not indicate impairment (i.e. no macroinvertebrate or fish Index of Biotic Integrity (IBI) scored in the "poor" condition category). This water was meeting this designated use and not considered impaired.
Author Amanda Smith
North Fish Creek was assessed during the 2018 listing cycle; new total phosphorus sample data were clearly below the 2018 WisCALM listing thresholds for the Fish and Aquatic Life use. This water was meeting this designated use and was not considered impaired. This water was proposed to be identified as a Category 2 water.
Author Ashley Beranek
Wisconsin has over 84,000 miles of streams, 15,000 lakes and milllions of acres of wetlands. Assessing the condition of this vast amount of water is challenging. The state's water monitoring program uses a media-based, cross-program approach to analyze water condition. An updated monitoring strategy (2015-2020) is now available.
Compliance with Clean Water Act fishable, swimmable standards are located in the Executive Summary of Water Condition in 2016 . See also 'monitoring' and 'projects'.
Wisconsin's Water Quality Standards provide qualitative and quantitative goals for waters that are protective of Fishable, Swimmable conditions [Learn more]. Waters that do not meet water quality standards are considered impaired and restoration actions are planned and carried out until the water is once again fishable and swimmable
Management goals can include creation and implementation of a Total Maximum Daily Load Analysis, habitat restoration work, partnership education and outreach and more. If specific recommendations exist for this water, they will be displayed below.
Monitoring the condition of a river, stream, or lake includes gathering physical, chemical, biological, and habitat data. Comprehensive studies often gather all these parameters in great detail, while lighter assessment events will involve sampling physical, chemical and biological data such as macroinvertebrates. Aquatic macroinvertebrates and fish communities integrate watershed or catchment condition, providing great insight into overall ecosystem health. Chemical and habitat parameters tell researchers more about human induced problems including contaminated runoff, point source dischargers, or habitat issues that foster or limit the potential of aquatic communities to thrive in a given area. Wisconsin's Water Monitoring Strategy was recenty updated.
Grants and Management Projects
|WBIC||Official Waterbody Name||Station ID||Station Name||Earliest Fieldwork Date||Latest Fieldwork Date||View Station||View Data|
|2888000||North Fish Creek||10044298||North Fish Creek at US 2 near Ino Rd||1/1/2015||8/21/2017||Map||Data|
North Fish Creek is located in the Fish Creek watershed which is 156.55 mi². Land use in the watershed is primarily forest (57%), agricultural (20%) and a mix of grassland (8%) and other uses (15%). This watershed has 292.51 stream miles, 3,880.64 lake acres and 4,418.55 wetland acres.
Nonpoint Source Characteristics
This watershed is ranked Medium for runoff impacts on streams, Not Available for runoff impacts on lakes and Low for runoff impacts on groundwater and therefore has an overall rank of Low. This value can be used in ranking the watershed or individual waterbodies for grant funding under state and county programs.However, all waters are affected by diffuse pollutant sources regardless of initial water quality. Applications for specific runoff projects under state or county grant programs may be pursued. For more information, go to surface water program grants.