Sunset Lake, Waupaca River Watershed (WR05)
Sunset Lake, Waupaca River Watershed (WR05)
Sunset Lake Park Beach (199700)
0.06 Miles
0 - 0.06
Natural Community
Natural communities (stream and lake natural communities) represent model results that use predicted flow and temperature based on landscape features and related assumptions. Ranges of flow and temperature associated with specific aquatic life communities (fish, macroinvertebrates) help biologists identify appropriate resource management goals. Wisconsin Natural Communities.
Year Last Monitored
This is the most recent date of monitoring data stored in SWIMS. Additional surveys for fish and habitat may be available subsequent to this date.
Trout Water 
Trout Waters are represented by Class I, Class II or Class III waters. These classes have specific ecological characteristics and management actions associated with them. For more information regarding Trout Classifications, see the Fisheries Trout Class Webpages.
Outstanding or Exceptional 
Wisconsin has designated many of the state's highest quality waters as Outstanding Resource Waters (ORWs) or Exceptional Resource Waters (ERWs). Waters designated as ORW or ERW are surface waters which provide outstanding recreational opportunities, support valuable fisheries and wildlife habitat, have good water quality, and are not significantly impacted by human activities. ORW and ERW status identifies waters that the State of Wisconsin has determined warrant additional protection from the effects of pollution. These designations are intended to meet federal Clean Water Act obligations requiring Wisconsin to adopt an 'antidegradation' policy that is designed to prevent any lowering of water quality - especially in those waters having significant ecological or cultural value.
Impaired Water 
A water is polluted or 'impaired' if it does not support full use by humans, wildlife, fish and other aquatic life and it is shown that one or more of the pollutant criteria are not met.

Fish and Aquatic Life

Current Use
The use the water currently supports. This is not a designation or classification; it is based on the current condition of the water. Information in this column is not designed for, and should not be used for, regulatory purposes.
Fish and Aquatic Life - waters that do not have a specific use designation subcategory assigned but which are considered fishable, swimmable waters.
Attainable Use
The use that the investigator believes the water could achieve through managing "controllable" sources. Beaver dams, hydroelectric dams, low gradient streams, and naturally occurring low flows are generally not considered controllable. The attainable use may be the same as the current use or it may be higher.
Fish and Aquatic Life - waters that do not have a specific use designation subcategory assigned but which are considered fishable, swimmable waters.
Designated Use
This is the water classification legally recognized by NR102 and NR104, Wis. Adm. Code. The classification determines water quality criteria and effluent limits. Waters obtain designated uses through classification procedures.
Default FAL
Fish and Aquatic Life - Default Waters do not have a specific use designation subcategory but are considered fishable, swimmable waters.


Sunset Lake is a clear, hard water seepage lake five miles northeast of Nelsonville. Vast stretches of sand and gravel in the -littoral area provide excellent beaches. Small areas of rubble and silt are also present. The lake develops a thermocline at approximately thirteen feet. In 1954, the lake was chemically treated to remove the entire fish population. It was restocked with trout and largemouth bass. However, local fishermen ruined the job stocking bluegills, pumpkinseed, suckers, redhorse, and many minnows. In 1965, the lake was again treated in an attempt to remove a stunted panfish population that developed. The present fishery includes largemouth bass, brook, brown, and rainbow trout, and cisco. The lake furnishes some excellent trout fishing. The lake is also a well known recreation spot. Boating, water skiing, sailings, and swimming are but a few of the activities. Conflicts occasionally arise, especially between water skiers and people sailing or those trying to fish. A county park is present on the east side. Picnic tables, concession stand, grills, toilets, beach, playground, and boat ramp are part of these facilities. A large parking area is also present. Camp Chicagami, a Boy Scout camp, occupies most of the southeast side of the lake. Approximately twenty cottages occupy the remainder of the shoreline. Many of these are well hidden from view from the lake and do not detract from the aesthetic value of the lake. Significant numbers of ducks, especially divers, use the lake during their migration.

Source: 1972, Surface Water Resources of Portage County Sunset Lake, T24N, R10E, Section 22, Surface Acres-61.2, S.D.F.- 1.15, Maximum Depth-55 feet.

Date  1972

Author   Aquatic Biologist

Sunset Lake, Waupaca River Watershed (WR05) Fish and Aquatic LifeSunset Lake, Waupaca River Watershed (WR05) RecreationSunset Lake, Waupaca River Watershed (WR05) Fish Consumption


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 2018. See also the 'monitoring and projects' tab.


Management Goals

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

Monitoring Projects

Watershed Characteristics

Sunset Lake is located in the Waupaca River watershed which is 290.77 miĀ². Land use in the watershed is primarily forest (43.70%), agricultural (30.40%) and a mix of grassland (14%) and other uses (11.80%). This watershed has 231.34 stream miles, 2,456.10 lake acres and 14,124.68 wetland acres.

Nonpoint Source Characteristics

This watershed is ranked Medium for runoff impacts on streams, Not Ranked for runoff impacts on lakes and High for runoff impacts on groundwater and therefore has an overall rank of High. 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.

Natural Community

Sunset Lake Park Beach is considered a Two-Story under the state's Natural Community Determinations.

Natural communities (stream and lake natural communities) represent model resultsand DNR staff valiation processes that confirm or update predicted conditions based on flow and temperature modeling from historic and current landscape features and related variables. Predicated flow and temperatures for waters are associated predicated fish assemblages (communities). Biologists evaluate the model results against current survey data to determine if the modeled results are corect and whether biological indicators show water quaity degradation. This analysis is a core component of the state's resource management framework. Wisconsin's Riverine Natural Communities.

Shallow headwater lake describes the depth and location of the lake in a watershed. These variables affect the lakes response to watershed variables.

Fish Stocking