Fish and Aquatic Life
The North Fork of the Bad Axe River, located in west central Vernon County just west of Viroqua, flows for approximately 23 miles in a southwesterly direction before meeting the South Fork to form the Bad Axe River. It has a slight gradient of 21 feet per mile and drains steep forests as well as ridgetop and valley agricultural lands. The 45 acre Runge Hollow Lake results from storage of water behind the wet flood control structure located approximately 15 miles upstream from the mouth of the North Fork. The eight or so miles of the North Fork above Runge Hollow lake is locally known as Esofea Branch. The North Fork of the Bad Axe River is classified as warm water sport fish from its mouth upstream to CTH "O". Above CTH "O", the North Fork is a Class II trout stream for approximately nine miles. Stream surveys conducted between 1991and 1994 documented a very diverse fishery which included brown trout, rainbow trout, northern pike, black and yellow bullhead, burbot, rockbass, pumpkinseed, green sunfish, bluegill, smallmouth and largemouth bass, yellow perch, sauger, walleye, and a variety of forage fish. The major problem affecting the North Fork Bad Axe fishery is lack of in-stream cover, largely due to poor bank stability. In-stream habitat improvements such as rock rip- rap, creation of deep pools, as well as sloping and seeding of streambanks should improve the population of smallmouth bass in the North Fork of the Bad Axe River.
From: Koperski, Cindy. 2002. The State of the Bad Axe - La Crosse Basin. Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, Madison, WI.
Author Cynthia Koperski
Bad Axe River, North Fork, T12N, R7W, Section 12. Surface Acres = 66.9, Miles = 23.0, Gradient = 21.5 feet per m1le.
A clear. hard water stream that flows in a southwesterly direction and joins the South Fork Bad Axe River to form the main stem of the stream. Locally. that portion of the North Fork above the junction of the Springville Branch and heading in Section 35 northeast of Esofea is often called the Esofea Branch of the Bad Axe River. From the bridge crossing at Newton upstream. the stream is managed as Class III brown trout water; from C.T.H. "Y" crossing downstream to Romance. the stream is considered smallmouth bass water. In addition to these species. sauger. black crappie. white crappie. channel catfish. carp. and many species of minnows and other forage fish are present. A winter aerial groundwater survey found scattered open water areas throughout this fork. Sand is the dominant bottom type with rubble, gravel, boulder, silt, detritus, clay, and bedrock present in order of abundance. There is access to the stream from several road crossings and from Rentz Memorial County Park. There are about 25.6 acres of adjoining wetland. Muskrat are significant and beaver are present. Broods of wood ducks, mallards, and teal may be observed along the stream, and migrant diving and dabbler ducks use the water.
From: Klick, Thomas A. and Threinen, C.W., 1973. Lake and Stream Classification Project. Surface Water Resources of Vernon County, Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, Madison, WI.
Author Surface Water Inventory Of Wisconsin
The North Fork of the Bad Axe River (Esofea Branch) was assessed during the 2018 listing cycle; new biological (fish Index of Biotic Integrity (IBI) scores) 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.
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'.
Lakes Planning Grant
1641700 North Fork Bad Axe River
1642400 Runge Hollow Lake
Habitat Restoration - Instream
The North Fork Bad Axe River would benefit from the in stream river restoration.
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 or implementation of a Total Maximum Daily Load analysis, a Nine Key Element Plan, or other restoration work, education and outreach and more. If specific recommendations exist for this water, they will be displayed below online.
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|
|1641700||North Fork Bad Axe River||633043||Bad Axe River North Fork - Cth Y Se Sec 7||5/14/1979||11/8/1979||Map||Data|
|1641700||North Fork Bad Axe River||10010213||North Fork Bad Axe River - North Fork Bad Axe Sta. #2 60m Upstream Of Upper Newton Rd. Bridge||Map||Data|
|1641700||North Fork Bad Axe River||10010214||North Fork Bad Axe River - North Fork Bad Axe Sta. #3 356m Downstream Of River Ford||Map||Data|
|1641700||North Fork Bad Axe River||10010216||North Fork Bad Axe River - North Fork Bad Axe Sta. #5 432m Downstream Of Field Road Crossing||Map||Data|
|1641700||North Fork Bad Axe River||10011164||North Fork Bad Axe River - North Fork Bad Axe River Station #4 Upstream Rock Pool 432m||Map||Data|
|1641700||North Fork Bad Axe River||10011165||North Fork Bad Axe River - Station #5a Game End Rock Pool/Fenceline||3/24/2014||10/22/2014||Map||Data|
|1641700||North Fork Bad Axe River||10013587||N. Fk. Bad Axe Station 4- Riffle Below Fenceline||Map||Data|
|1641700||North Fork Bad Axe River||633071||Bad Axe River North Fork at Cth 0||8/8/1991||6/9/1992||Map||Data|
|1641700||North Fork Bad Axe River||10011490||North Fork Bad Axe River - Esofea Branch Station 1 Bridge On Private Dr. Across From Oldenbergs||Map||Data|
|1641700||North Fork Bad Axe River||10010215||North Fork Bad Axe River - North Fork Bad Axe Sta. #4 329m Downstream From Walk-In Access||10/11/2002||1/1/2015||Map||Data|
North Fork Bad Axe River is located in the Bad Axe River watershed which is 195.49 mi². Land use in the watershed is primarily forest (40%), agricultural (29.60%) and a mix of grassland (24.60%) and other uses (5.80%). This watershed has 468.27 stream miles, 489.81 lake acres and 2,552.28 wetland acres.
Nonpoint Source Characteristics
This watershed is ranked High for runoff impacts on streams, Not Ranked 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.