The Restoration of Lake Delton and the Yahara Fishing Club’s Kid’s Day

by Free Speech on June 11, 2010

Lodi, WI~

Lodi Valley News serving Lodi, WI & the Lake Wisconsin area with local information since Earth Day 2008.

River Currents
by Gary Engberg
©2010 Gary Engberg Outdoors

This young lady shows off her prize catch from Lake Delton.

This young lady shows off her prize catch from Lake Delton.

Two years ago, I was at Lake Delton less than 24 hours after torrential rains caused a breach and the saturated soil between the lake and the Wisconsin River collapsed sending the water from this 267 acre Lake Delton into the Wisconsin River. What was left at this great Wisconsin tourist area was a dry lake bed with scattered logs, lost anchors, and a lake bottom of mostly mud. The many resorts, businesses, and local residents were left with a lake that had once attracted thousands and thousands of visitors every summer without one of its main natural attractions thus losing many million dollars of tourist income and revenue.

Soon after the disaster Ben Hobbins, the inventor and President/CEO of Lake Resources-IronClads Soft Baits, called Wisconsin outdoor communicator and radio and TV host, Dan Small, to help him in a project aimed at restoring Lake Delton to the tourist-friendly lake that it once was providing recreational opportunities to locals and visitors alike. Ben and Dan ended up forming the Lake Delton Fisheries Restoration Project (LDFRP) Task Force with Hobbins, Small, retired DNR Fisheries Biologist and Lake Delton Village Trustee Gordon Priegel, and the then fisheries biologist for the area, Tim Larson, to head the project. Larson later retired and was replaced by Scot Stewart, another DNR biologist.

During the summer of 2008, a website was established (www.restorelakedeltonfisheries.com) to provide information on the tragedy and give people a place to send their donations. A bank account was opened, Biologist Larson developed a fish stocking program and a carp eradication plan, Larson and Priegel also designed plans for rock reefs on the dry lake bed, and the first donations began coming in. The embankment and roadway on Highway A was reconstructed and completed along with the rock reefs and dam on the lake by the fall of 2008. The highway was reopened and a new boat launch was completed along with improvements on the older landings. Dell Creek, which flows into the lake, was eradicated for carp and the dam’s gates were finally closed allowing for the refilling of the lake. During the spring of 2009, the lake was stocked with 9 million minnows for a forage base valued at $20,000.00 and donated by the Gollon Bait and Fish Hatchery in Dodgeville and Lake Delton reached “full pool” in the spring of 2009 just before the busy summer season.

Lake Delton has been stocked with fish which should reach legal size in a year or so. Walleye, smallmouth bass, largemouth bass, channel catfish, yellow perch, bluegills, and crappies were all stocked in the lake and by my observations seemed to be doing excellent.

The Restoration Project has gone well with the lake refilling and the stocked fish are growing quickly and some should be “keeper” size fish soon. This past weekend, the First Annual Youth Fishing Jamboree was held at Kaminski Park on beautiful Lake Delton. The weather cooperated and many children and their parents, guardians, and grandparents showed up for the “celebration” of the return of Lake Delton. If you had seen the empty lake two years ago and now you never would have known that you were looking at the same place!

Ben Hobbins and Dan Small added a little twist to the Youth Fishing Jamboree by having the children act as DNR helpers by measuring and recording the size and species of fish that they caught and giving the data to DNR personnel. All fish were released to grow and be caught again. I was at the lake this past Saturday for a couple of hours and the fishing was great to say the least! The children fishing caught about every species of fish that the lake holds and the fishing activity was virtually non-stop. Lake Delton will be a great fishing lake as time passes and the fish continue to grow. There are many sponsors and individuals responsible for the Youth Fishing Jamboree as there has been in the Restoration Project over the past few years. I don’t have the space to list them all and I hope that they know who they are. Gander Mountain and their manager, Cory Frantzick, were major donors for the Jamboree and they and many others should be thanked. Believe me when I say Lake Delton is well on its way to being the tourist destination that it always has been and it ceases to amaze me what people can do when they are motivated by a local disaster. Thanks to all who made the restoration of Lake Delton and the Jamboree possible!

Yahara Fishing Clubs Kid's Fishing Day

A very happy young angler at the Yahara Fishing Clubs Kid's Fishing Day

The rest of my Saturday was spent driving from Lake Delton to the Warner Park lagoons on the Madison north side for the Yahara Fishing Club’s Annual Kid’s Fishing Day. I know that I’ve recently kept you busy with my accounts of the numerous youth fishing events in our area. But, there are numerous outdoor groups that are trying their best to get children involved in the outdoors and introduced to the sport of fishing which I consider very worthwhile and a healthy activity.

The Yahara Fishing Club is a great local group of anglers that do nothing but good for the area’s waters, citizens, and of course the children. There were dozens of club members on hand Saturday to give fishing instruction to novices, cook food for lunch, and help in any way that they could in making this event another success for the area’s youth. As it has for years, Wal-Mart was a major sponsor in donating equipment for the children and funds for the event. We always hear the negative aspects of large corporations, but this one has been there to help our young for years! There were 350 rods and reels to give away and free tackle boxes for those who came with their own rods. Most if not all children went home with enough gear and equipment to help them get started in a healthy activity like fishing. Times are tough economically and events like this that give children all that they need to have fun fishing are fantastic! Again, there are too many sponsors and individuals to thank. But, if you have the chance try to thank any Yahara Fishing Club member, Fin-Tech Tackle, and Fin-Tech pro staff member, Jim Kloth for the “freebies” that were donated. Jim is also a member of the National Professional Anglers Association who help in children events around the country. Events for children, like the two that I have just written about, are some of the good things that are happening in the outdoors and I hope that many of you take advantage of these opportunities provided by some wonderful groups and people who value the “great outdoors.”  www.garyengbergoutdoors.com

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