Rush Lake, Fox River Watershed (UF05)
Rush Lake, Fox River Watershed (UF05)
Rush Lake (141400)
2728.72 Acres
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.
Shallow Lowland
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.
Fond Du Lac, Winnebago
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.
Shallow Lowland
Shallow lowland lake describes the depth and location of the lake in a watershed. These variables affect the lakes response to watershed variables.
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.


Rush Lake, in the Fox River Watershed, is a 2,728.66 acre lake that falls in Fond du Lac and Winnebago Counties. This lake is managed for fishing and swimming and is currently not considered impaired.

Date  2011

Author   Aquatic Biologist

Historical Description

Source: 1975, Surface Water Resources of Winnebago County Rush Lake, T17N,R14E, Several Area = 3,070 acres, Depth = 5 feet, Secchi Disk = 5 feet.

Rush Lake is a large marshy basin lying between two low lying hills in western Winnebago County. The water is clear, hard, and highly productive. Water is supplied through seepage, drainage, and spring flow and water levels are maintained in part by a dam with a height of 5 head feet located on Waukau Creek, the outlet stream. Detritus along with small amounts of gravel and hardpan are major bottom materials. Aquatic vegetation is abundant with rushes and chara being the most common species. Water lilies are also common. Rush Lake is subject to winterkills nearly every year and as such does not provide much sport fishing. Each spring many fish species move up Waukau Creek from the Fox River to spawn in Rush Lake. Since fish, namely walleye and northern pike, produced from this spawning activity would normally die following winter, it was decided to crop as many game fish as possible and stock them into other waters throughout the state. Since 1956 literally thousands of game fish have been taken for restocking. From a fish management point of view, then, Rush Lake is best suited as a game fish rearing pond. Rush Lake, being a shallow highly productive lake, is an excellent wildlife area. Thousands of waterfowl stop at the lake during their spring and fall migrations. Hunting pressure is very heavy during waterfowl season with opening day car counts exceeding 700 during recent years. Altercations between hunters and local property owners over who can hunt where, are commonplace. Lead shot deposition in bottom sediments resulting from years of heavy hunting pressure has created still yet another problem. Waterfowl, especially geese, ingest lead while feeding and as a result often die from lead poisoning. Hazing operations have been carried on during peak migration periods in an attempt to scatter geese from the area. Recent studies by University of Wisconsin, Oshkosh biologists indicate that Rush Lake probably contains the greatest concentration of nesting red- necked grebes in Wisconsin. In addition to waterfowl many aquatic birds such as rails, terns, gulls, and herons are common in the area. Aquatic furbearers such as mink and muskrats are common in the 4,300 acres of adjoining wetlands. Deer are also common. Developments are limited to 31 cottages and dwellings. Public access is available from two state owned access sites. Access is inadequate.

Date  1975

Author   Surface Water Inventory Of Wisconsin

Rush Lake, Fox River Watershed (UF05) Fish and Aquatic LifeRush Lake, Fox River Watershed (UF05) RecreationRush Lake, Fox River Watershed (UF05) 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.



Monitor Water Quality or Sediment
3 water quality sampling events (July 15 - Sept. 15), 1 Plant Survey (modified Point Intercept), 1 AIS Survey PI plant survey will be modified because Rush Lake is basically a deep marsh.

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

Rush Lake is located in the Fox River watershed which is 119.76 miĀ². Land use in the watershed is primarily agricultural (57.60%), wetland (18.40%) and a mix of grassland (13.90%) and other uses (10.10%). This watershed has 236.73 stream miles, 3,102.34 lake acres and 13,826.50 wetland acres.

Nonpoint Source Characteristics

This watershed is ranked High for runoff impacts on streams, High 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

Rush Lake is considered a Shallow Lowland 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 lowland lake describes the depth and location of the lake in a watershed. These variables affect the lakes response to watershed variables.