Fish and Aquatic Life
Fish Lake is a 216-acre pothole lake on the edge of the unglaciated driftless area of
Wisconsin. The lake is fairly deep, with a maximum depth of 62 feet. The lake is a seepage
lake with no inlet or outlet streams. Northern pike, largemouth bass and panfish dominate the
fishery. It has been considered a mesotrophic lake, but declining water quality and habitat are
pushing it toward eutrophic status. Fish Lake had some of the best water quality among Dane
County lakes in the early 1980s. Since then, the lake has experienced a decline in water
clarity, and lower dissolved oxygen readings as a result of increased surface water runoff.
DCRPC has ranked Fish Lake high for possible selection as a nonpoint source priority lake
watershed project. The lake has a high population of cisco, a cold water fish related to
salmon, which need cold water and high dissolved oxygen. The declining quality of the water
in the lake has led to occasional fishkills.
The surrounding landuse is over 60% agriculture. Factors contributing to the decline of the
lake are believed to be the lack of adequate buffer zones, poor animal waste management and
farm management practices, organic loading and sedimentation of the southwest bay, and
excessive Eurasian water milfoil growth in the lake. An Environmental Protection Agency
(EPA) Clean Lakes research project was conducted on the lake and a lake management plan
was completed in 1996. The lake is also a long-term trends monitoring lake through the
WDNR's lakes management program. WDNR and Dane County Parks have been conducting
shoreline habitat and riparian area improvement work on Fish Lake. As a part of this work,
several trees have selectively been knocked into the lake to create shoreline habitat. In
addition, black locust trees, an invasive exotic species, has been removed and there have been
efforts to re-establish American locust. These efforts, as well as the successful acquisition of
Lussier Park on the eastern shoreline should have a positive impact on the lake.
Another factor affecting the management of the lake is that over the past 25 years, the lake
water level has risen. A study, funded by a Lake Planning Grant and conducted by USGS and
the Dane County Lakes and Watershed Management, was being done over the last year and a
half. The study was examining options to help reduce the problems being caused by Fish
s high stage condition, such as flooding of roads and residences. The study will help
evaluate options of how to manage the problem, whether it be pumping water out of the lake
or diverting surface water from the lake. Another study is being conducted simultaneously to
determine how these options would or could affect Crystal Lake. The lake has a lake
association that was organized in 1998.
Author Aquatic Biologist
Fish Lake is a pothole lake on the edge of the unglaciated driftless area of Wisconsin.
The lake is fairly deep, with a nlaximum depth of 62 feet. It has been considered a
mesotrophic lake, but declining water quality and habitat are pushing it toward
eutrophic status (Marshall, 1992). Fish Lake had some of the best water quality among
Dane County lakes in the early 1980s. Since then, the lake has experienced a decline in
water clarity, lower dissolved oxygen readings and occasional fishkills. Problems
identified as contributing to the decline of the lake are lack of adequate buffer zones,
animal waste managenlent and farm management practices, organic loading and
sedimentation of the southwest bay, and excessive eurasian water milfoil growth in the
lake (WDNR, 1991). An Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Clean Lakes research
project is underway on the lake and a completed lake management plan is expected in
1993 (WDNR, 1991). DCRPC has ranked Fish Lake high for possible selection as a
nonpoint source priority lakes watershed project (DCRPC, 1991) . The lake is also a
long-term trends monitoring lake through the WDNR's lakes management program.
There is a small county park adjacent to the lake.
Author Surface Water Inventory Of Wisconsin
Source: 1985, Surface Water Resources of Dane County,WI: WI-DNR Fish Lake - T9N, R7E, Sec. 3 Surface acres = 216, SDF = 1.60, Maximum depth = 62 ft Fish Lake is a deep, land-locked seepage lake occupying a valley of glacial outwash in northwestern Dane County. Two resorts are located on Fish Lake with farmland and cottages dominating the remaining shoreline. Dense beds of macrophytes, both emergent and submergent, are found throughout the littoral zone including water-milfoil, coontail, bushy pondweed, flatstem pondweed, bulrush, cattail, yellow and white water lilies, rush, and smartweed (Dane Cty. Reg. Plann. Comm. 1979a). Water quality is very good and winterkills do not occur. Inadequate septic systems in the area-must be identified and improved to prevent any degradation in water quality. Marx Pond is connected to Fish Lake by a culvert and serves as northern pike spawning grounds. The fishery of Fish Lake is unusual in that both cold and warm water game fishes are present. The lake is managed for northern pike, largemouth bass, panfish, and cisco. In the past, rainbow trout and walleye were stocked but survival was low, probably due to northern pike predation. Fishing pressure is moderately heavy. Access is available at an improved town road access way. A small county park on the west side provides parking and picnicking facilities. A Town of Roxbury ordinance does not allow motorboats on Fish Lake. Development consists of a resort-mobile home park. Fish species: cisco, northern pike, common carp, golden shiner, bluntnose minnow, white sucker, black and brown bullhead, green sunfish, pumpkinseed, bluegill, largemouth bass, black crappie, yellow perch, and walleye.
Author Surface Water Inventory Of Wisconsin
Dane County acquired approximately a 1/2 acre of land located on the west shore of Fish Lake in the Town of Roxbury, Dane County. This acquisition will permanently protect 73 feet of shoreline and fishery ecosystem for wildlife and scenic beauty,
The Marx property has already been purchased by Dane County. The property will protect the majority of the Mud Lake shoreline, which is connected to Fish Lake, a very important resource in NW Dane County. This land is adjacent to other property already purchased by the County. In five years, the property will be converted from row cropping to natural drainage patterns and natural vegetation to encourage wildlife and promote water quality benefits.
Dane County Lake Classification-Phase 2: The Phase 1 classification grant classified all county lakes and streams. This grant will take the next step by developing a management program based on the classification.
Dane County Department of Planning and Development will hire a project staff in order to develop a Lake Classification project, which is seen as the first step toward developing a consistent set of county-wide standards and procedures to protect Dane County Waters.
This grant will provide financial assistance for the acquisition of approximately 117 acres along Fish Lake, including approximately 1,600 feet of lakeshore frontage.
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|
|985100||Fish Lake||10031440||Fish Lake at Culvert Fish Lake Rd||6/22/2010||7/21/2010||Map||Data|
|985100||Fish Lake||133120||Fish Lake - Deep Hole-Littoral Zone||5/23/1973||1/1/2015||Map||Data|
|985100||Fish Lake||10018025||Fish Lake County Park Boat Ramp ||1/26/1993||8/3/2019||Map||Data|
|985100||Fish Lake||10014908||Fish Lake - Spring Boomshocking||Map||Data|
|985100||Fish Lake||10030955||Fish Lake -- Lussier County Park Canoe Launch||12/15/2010||6/25/2014||Map||Data|
|985100||Fish Lake||10031438||Fish Lake at Culvert ||8/17/2010||8/17/2010||Map||Data|
|985100||Fish Lake||10044695||Fish Lake - North side||6/4/2015||6/4/2015||Map||Data|
|985100||Fish Lake||10044694||Fish Lake - SE corner||6/4/2015||6/4/2015||Map||Data|
|985100||Fish Lake||10001213||Fish Lake||8/1/1967||9/30/2017||Map||Data|
Fish Lake is located in the Roxbury Creek watershed which is 71.11 mi². Land use in the watershed is primarily agricultural (40.40%), forest (28.50%) and a mix of wetland (12.80%) and other uses (18.30%). This watershed has 111.73 stream miles, 988.84 lake acres and 4,432.98 wetland acres.
Nonpoint Source Characteristics
This watershed is ranked Not Available for runoff impacts on streams, Not Available 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.This water is ranked High Lake for individual Lakes based on runoff problems and the likelihood of success from project implementation.