The tiny symbol looks like hat floating near the shore next to my neighbor’s dock. As a matter of fact, hats have been known to wash up on shore from time to time, but this little symbol, the key on the map reveals, denotes “floating vegetation.”

I can vouch for that, and for the recent development of it. The makers of the new map of Lake Wissota accurately noted the location of a growing mass of lillipads that first started to appear near the Mermaid Bay shore about three years ago.

Noting the location of vegetation was, in fact, one of the major reasons why the The Lake Wissota Improvement and Protection Association took on the major project of developing a comprehensive new map of Lake Wissota, including significant sections of the Chippewa River and feeder streams. Mapping of lake vegetation has significant scientific and management value.

It also has value as hints to wear the bluegills and bass might be hiding.

The new Lake Wissota map will be officially unveiled in a ceremony from 5-8 p.m. Friday, Jan. 21 at the Leinie Lodge, with a brief program at 5:30 p.m.

If you enjoy getting out on Lake Wissota at all, you will want to pick up one of the free maps, which will be available at Gordy’s Hardware at the lake and downtown, DNR offices, the Chippewa County Courthouse, and other locations yet to be determined.

It will also be available for download at

However, if you download it, you will miss out on the high quality glossy paper stock it’s printed on, with a water resistant cover and a plastic-lined water-resistant envelope. And unless your printer is really, really good, you’ll miss out on the color and the spectacular detail of the aerial photographs. This is one sharp looking map.

Check that, this is six sharp looking maps. The lake system is too large for a single fold-out, so it’s printed on three sections, using the front and the back of each. That presents separate maps for the small lake, with Yellow River and Moon Bay on the flip side; the big lake, with the Chippewa River just past Mallard on the flip side; and an overview of the entire system, with the rest of the Chippewa River to Jim Falls in the flip side.

You can find out where every boat landing, every public access point, every fish crib, every patch of floating vegetation, and every contour of the lake bottom are through the entire system.

“The project actually started in ‘08 when we were looking at the invasive species, especially the (Eurasian) milfoil – how are we going to plan for the ongoing battle against the invasive species?” said Roger Kees, former LWIPA president and a map project committee member.

Kees noted that Buzz Sorgi of the DNR said the LWIPA needed to develop a scientific basis for what it was going to do, and that meant gathering lots of data.

A plant study that initially found the milfoil needed to be updated. Creating a map of what kinds of vegetation were found where was seen as an invaluable management tool.

“We wanted a better map, a data base over which the scientists could superimpose their new information,” Kees said.

With the map scientifically made, it provides a snapshot of the lake at one point in time against which future changes and trends can be measured.

The project aimed at updating a 1992 bathymetric map for Lake Wissota, with an emphasis on providing more detailed mapping of critical habitat areas, according to a press release issued by the group. The survey wanted to find critical habitat areas, so it focused on shallow waters.

A total of 97,845 depth survey points were collected with 68% found in less than 30 feet of water. The resulting map has details in these shallow areas, with less detail in areas of deeper water.

“We stressed that the survey should be the most detailed possible,” Kees said.

Lake survey data is combined with an outline of the lake’s shoreline. That creates a 3D model of the lake bottom that is placed over a 2008 color aerial photo.

Then boat landings, access points, lake vegetation and substrate, and fish crib information were added to the map.

All that is great from a scientific standpoint, but Kees knows the real reason most people will use the map, and that’s fine.

“It shows the base underlying structure of the lake that fishermen are interested in, and the lake access point and the beaches,” said Kees.

University of Wisconsin Professor Sean Hartnett supervised the map construction. Sean and Karen Hartnett and Daniel Steltz did the GPS and a sonar survey. The bathymetric survey of Lake Wissota was done in the summer of 2008.

The effort was assisted by the Beaver Creek Reserve Citizen Science Center, the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, the Lake Wissota Improvement and Protection Association, and the Chippewa Rod and Gun Club.

Funding for the project came from grants from the state Department of Natural Resources Aquatic Invasive Species Control Program and Xcel Energy.

The organization had 10,000 of the maps printed on the panels measuring 12.5-by-17.75 inches with single folds in each panel. Kees said they hope they have a five-year supply.

There are also plans for a poster-size map for hanging on the wall at the cabin, but that is not quite ready yet, Kees said.

Now, if it only showed were the fish are actually biting. . .

(1) comment


"It also has value as hints to WEAR the bluegills and bass might be hiding."

What do the bluegills and bass "wear"?

Nice article but please proofread.

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