White Lake gets boost from fisheree
Aeration system keeps fish alive in winter
By Greg Seubert
A nearly 40-year tradition has returned to White Lake.
The White Lake Aeration Conservation Club held its 39th annual fisheree Jan. 15 on Waupaca County’s largest inland lake.
Anglers ranging from kids to senior citizens tried their luck fishing for northern pike, walleye and panfish while also helping the club keep the lake’s fishery alive and well during the winter.
“It’s amazing to me how many people are actually coming out today to enjoy the fisheree,” club president Tom Buchholz said. “We had a really early crowd and even though it was chilly outside, people enjoyed the fact that they were able to get out. The sun came out and it turned out to be just great.”
Coronavirus concerns kept the club from holding the event last year and organizers also pulled the plug on the event in 2020 because of poor ice conditions on the lake, located between Weyauwega and Manawa.
Funds raised at the fisheree help the club aerate the lake during the winter, according to Buchholz.
“We have a couple of pumps that we pump oxygen into the water and that costs money,” he said. “We do this fisheree to raise money. It’s a good cause because a lot of people use the lake for recreation, fishing and hunting.”
Without the aeration system, the lake’s fish would die during the winter from a lack of oxygen.
“The lake is known as a freeze out lake,” Buchholz said. “Without the aeration system, the fish would die off every year. The shallowness of the lake makes it a freeze out lake and that’s the unfortunate part. The aeration keeps the fish alive. We found a way to continue to raise good, quality fish here.”
Fisheree draws anglers
The fisheree draws anglers from Stevens Point to the Fox Valley area.
“What keeps this one going is everybody has a little interest in keeping it moving forward,” Buchholz said. “Who doesn’t want to go fishing?”
White Lake draws plenty of anglers during the winter, but is also a popular destination once the ice melts.
“The biggest draw the lake has is during the spring,” Buchholz said. “We get a lot of open-water fishermen. They go after the panfish. As the water warms up, the fishing kind of slows down.”
The club, which formed in the 1970s, works to improve the lake’s fishery, while another organization, the White Lake Preservation Association, focuses its attention on boating, water quality and weed control.
Buchholz said several anglers had reported their catches by noon.
“The fish board looks pretty good,” he said. “We had some nice walleyes come in at 24 inches and there are some 9-inch bluegills and 14-inch perch. The fish have been healthy, nice and fat.”
The fishery also gives the club a chance to see how the fishery is doing.
“We report back to the (state Department of Natural Resources) fisheries biologist on information that we gather during the fisheree,” he said. “They use that to help manage the lake.”
While other fisherees come and go, Buchholz doesn’t see an end to White Lake’s event.
“When they buy a ticket from us, I hear them say, ‘I’m so glad to contribute to White Lake,’” he said. “That’s pretty pleasing when I hear that.”