DU FLAMBEAU With a moss-filled bucket cooling a couple
of dozen nightcrawlers and an insulated container chilling a pound
of leeches, Lyle Chapman is well-prepared to tackle the famed
Lac du Flambeau chain of lakes on any given summer day.
even more important than bait to the 42-year-old fishing guide is
his well-earned knowledge of the underwater haunts favored by finicky
walleyes and broad-shouldered bass.
have a long tradition (of producing fishing guides on the Lac du
Flambeau Reservation), and I learned from the best," said Chapman,
whose great-uncle was legendary guide 'Big Louis'St. Germain.
not easy to entice walleyes in the heat of a late July day, but
Chapman ends a five-hour morning excursion with two anglers after
a dozen walleyes up to 17½ inches, a mixed bag of a dozen
largemouth and smallmouth bass up to 17 inches and an assortment
of panfish are landed and released.
give you a call when they're really biting," he says.
hard to imagine the dog days of summer producing much better fishing
action, but reservation officials have committed considerable resources
trying to make that happen, said Larry Wawronowicz, deputy administrator
of natural resources for the tribe.
50, holds a master's degree in fisheries from Southern Illinois
University and has been overseeing the Lac du Flambeau fisheries
program since 1984.
fisheries resource has always been important to the tribe, whose
reservation spans 86,000 acres in Oneida, Vilas and Iron counties.
Spring walleye spearing at night is a tradition reflected in the
tribal name which translates from French as "Lake of the Torches."
it's no surprise the tribe has emphasized a fisheries program
on the reservation, which encompasses 50 named lakes (17,000 acres),
64 miles of streams and 24,000 acres of wetland.
overall objective is to make certain we have a balanced fishery
that allows us to support a subsistence and a sport fishery,"
tribal hatchery produces 250,000 to 400,000 fingerling walleyes
and 1,000 to 2,000 large muskie fingerlings annually for stocking
that concentrates on 10 major lakes. It takes five to seven years
for a walleye to reach a length of 18 inches, which is the legal
size for taking by nontribal sport anglers.
60 percent of the property surrounding the larger lakes is owned
by nontribal members, Wawronowicz said, adding that shoreline development
is the biggest threat facing the reservation's fishery resources.
second major problem is the invasion of exotic species," he
clear Fence Lake, at 3,555 acres the largest lake in the Flambeau
Chain, was one of the first inland waters in the state found to
have smelt, an ocean species that entered Wisconsin through the
Great Lakes. Brown trout were introduced into Fence to control the
smelt population, but trout stocking has been discontinued.
stopped stocking brook trout in reservation waters four years ago
and brown trout two years ago," Wawronowicz said. "I don't
think we'll get back into it."
the same time, the smelt population declined noticeably on the lake
while the walleye population re-emerged.
think the 18-inch minimum size and three-fish daily bag limit on
walleye has had a big impact on smelt," Wawronowicz said. "Our
studies have shown that from mid-July into August, big walleyes
feed heavily on smelt."
fishing continues to improve on reservation waters, benefiting from
recent statewide rules setting the minimum size limit for sport
angling at 14 inches.
attract anglers on many of the larger lakes, with fish in the 50-inch
range taken annually.
waters offer tempting angling opportunities, but rewards still have
to be earned.
fished with a guy the other day who brought this electronic device
on board," Chapman related.
looked like a global positioning system. I told him, "That
better be a camera, because I"m not about to let somebody punch
numbers into a GPS to mark spots that have taken me years to learn."
understands such passion.
I had my druthers, I wouldn"t fish anywhere else but on the
reservation," he said.