articles from May, 2002 newsletter:

** President's Message
** Annual Meeting
** Meet your schoIarship recipient ...
** Creel Survey Scheduled for Lake Vermilion in 2002 and 2003
** About the Loon Survey and Loons

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President's Message

Here it is spring again and after a warm winter and a cold March, we are waiting for the ice to go out and the water to be liquid again.

The Citizen Steering Committee for the Lake Vermilion Management Plan has been meeting once a month and will continue to do so for the next several months to come up with an acceptable plan. For those seasonal club members who have inquired about being able to have input, you can attend any of the meetings that you may choose and voice your opinion then. Also you can visit the St. Louis County web site at: http:// There you can bring up the minutes of the meetings.

The meetings will be held every month throughout the summer and there will be notices of the meetings in the local news media or you can call me or other members of the board or the Citizen Committee to find out the dates and times. We want to hear from everybody who is interested. At the meeting scheduled for April 24 at Beatty Town Hall, the members were to make a decision about sending a Survey Questionnaire to all property owners on the lake, which is about 2500. It will be important to fill out and return these so that your ideas about what you want the lake to be like in the future will be heard. This is very important.

We, as your club board, are very concerned about the future of the lake, both in water quality as well as character of the shore line and its preservation, as I know most of the property owners are. We have one of the Sportsmen's Club board members who is working with the Soil and Water Conservation Department to restore his shore line impact zone to its natural state. He intends to have the public be able to view it and get some ideas on how to restore their own shore lines for protection from harmful run-off, which will preserve the natural environment and water quality. The more development there is on the lake, the more important it is that we use better management practices.

The Sportsmen's Club has purchased four more solar powered navigational lights this spring to add to the six we already have. Some advantages to these are that they can be left out all winter for snowmobile night navigation and less maintenance is required, so they are more reliable and there is no need to change the batteries. If you do notice any lights that are not working, be sure to call me or some other board member. We appreciate your help.

To a healthier Lake Vermilion, Ray Harris, President

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Annual Meeting


Saturday, August 10 at Fortune Bay Resort

"Please mark your calendar and plan to attend. Watch for more information in the July issue of the newsletter."

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Meet your schoIarship recipient ...

Introducing Rebecca Schoon. Rebecca was born and raised in the Cook, Lake Vermilion area and graduated from the Cook High School in June of 2001. She is currently enrolled in the College of Saint Scholastica, Duluth.

Rebecca has a passion for fishing and has been flyfishing and tying her own flies since she was 8 years old. She is majoring in environmental science and engineering at college. AND by the way... we received her first fall term grades and she posted all A's and one B.

Rebecca finds the world wonderful and exciting and she is always able to put a positive spin on things. Her world is full of promise and hope. Our best wishes go to you, Rebecca... keep up the good work. We are proud of you!!

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Write a poem in praise of the lake and its beauty
The Sportsmen's Club is announcing a poetry competition for anyone who will write a poem that specifically mentions Lake Vermilion in its northland beauty. Be effusive. Be filled with wonder. Use metaphor, rhyme, meterwhatever makes a poem.
We'll read all the entries and publish the winner in a future issue of this letter. Include your name and address so that we can send a "thank you" for your entry.

Poetry Editor
Sportsmen's Club of Lake Vermilion
P.O. Box 456
Cook, MN 55723

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Creel Survey Scheduled for Lake Vermilion in 2002 and 2003

The Minnesota Dept. of Natural Resources, Division of Fisheries will be conducting a creel survey on Lake Vermilion during the summers of 2002 and 2003. Creel survey is a scientific method of estimating fishing pressure and fish harvest from boat counts and angler interviews. The surveys are a valuable tool for managing fish populations. Creel surveys are conducted on Lake Vermilion as part of the statewide Large Lake Program; which includes creel surveys two consecutive years out of every six years. Previous creel surveys were done in 1984-85, 1990-91, and 1996-1997. A DNR aircraft will be used to count boats at scheduled times throughout the summer. Two DNR creel survey clerks will be interviewing anglers by boat to gather information on the numbers and sizes of fish caught, time spent fishing, methods of fishing, and other pertinent information. The Sportsmen's Club of Lake Vermilion is participating in the survey by furnishing a boat and outboard motor that will be used for interviewing anglers. The use of the boat and motor is greatly appreciated and will be a major factor in successfully completing the survey.
The creel survey clerks will be contacting anglers while they are fishing on Lake Vermilion this summer. They will ask a series of questions and may measure fish the angler has caught. They may also take a few scales from some of the fish for age analysis. l would like to take this opportunity to thank Lake Vermilion anglers for their cooperation during the survey. The interview process may be a little inconvenient, howeverthe information gained is very valuable. Creel survey clerks who worked during previous surveys were very impressed with how cooperative and friendly Lake Vermilion anglers were. That cooperation is much appreciated.
I would encourage anyone who has questions about the creel survey to contact me by phone, e-mail, or stop by our new office for a visit. The new DNR office is located just west of Tower along highway 169.
Duane Williams, Large Lake Specialist, Minnesota Dept. Of Natural Resources, Division of Fisheries, 650 Highway 169, Tower, MN 55790. Phone: 218-753-2580 ext. 224. Fax: 218-753-2581. E-mail:

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Winter of 2001/02 -- Warmer and dryer than normal, but finally -- Saved by March!

Month/yr. Avg. T Max. T Min. T In. H2O In. Snow Max. Snow Depth In.
Nov. '96
Nov. '97
- 15
Nov. '98
+ 10
Nov. '99
+ 16
Nov. '00
- 2
Nov. '01
+ 16
Dec. '96
- 22
Dec. '97
- 22
Dec. '98
- 23
Dec. '99
- 17
Dec. '00
- 24
Dec. '01
- 9
Jan. '97
- 40
Jan. '98
- 25
Jan. '99
- 32
Jan. '00
- 30
Jan. '01
- 11
Jan. '02
- 20
Feb. '97
- 30
Feb. '98
- 12
Feb. '99
- 11
Feb. '00
- 18
Feb. '01
- 29
Feb. '02
- 15
Mar. '97
- 17
Mar. '98
- 8
Mar. '99
- 5
Mar. '00
- 2
Mar. '01
- 11
Mar. '02
- 16
Total snowfall for the winter in inches was:
'96/'97 (85.5) '97/'98 (36.45 '98/'99 (52.84) '99/'00 (23.04) '00/'01 (60.76) '01/'02 (41.15)

The lake froze over on Dec. 7. This was two weeks later than last year. The thickness of the ice was measured as follows: Jan. 110", Feb. 2114.5", March 1225.5", April 327.5".

There were 29 days this winter below 0, but no days in which the temperature did not rise above 0. Of the 29 days, 11 were in January and 11 in March. This indicates the severity of March.

Comparison observations of this winter to those of the past five years are as follows:

November had the highest avg. T. of the six years
December was only .5 degrees less than the highest December T.
January was 2 degrees higher than the average of the five previous January months
February was 2 degrees higher than the average of the previous February months
March was the coldest of the previous March months and was actually 10 degrees less than avg.

There will not be an early ice-out this year and we will need some good heavy rains to bring the water level back to normal.

P.K. Edwards

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About the Loon Survey and Loons, by Mardy Jackson

Happy 20th Anniversary to the Sportsmen's Club of Lake Vermilion! Surely not for the Club's inception, but for our Loon Survey. Yes, it's been 20 uninterrupted years we've counted loons on our lake and sent the results to Carrol Henderson, the Non-Game Wildlife Supervisor for the State of Minnesotaand to the District Manager in Grand Rapids. It is valuable information for them to help determine causes in the fluctuations of our Common Loon. And by the way, we're the only lake in the state with as long and continued record.
Let me tell you how this all got started. It was 22 years ago this coming summer in late August this writer spotted 26 loons gathered out by Strawberry Island, which is in Fabian Bay off of Big Bay. Wow! This had to be a phenomenon! All my summers I'd spent on Sand Lake, and I'd never seen that before. This had to be reported, right? (How naive could I be? This happens every August. Since Sand Lake is not very huge, not the number there as here in a bigger lake, so naturally I hadn't seen it beforehad to wait 'til I got to "The Big Lake," right?) So back to my earth-shaking discovery, and an important letter to Carrol Henderson. It took until fall before he responded to "that idiot" up North. On his letter, (8-1/2x13), was a little box 2"x3" in the lower left hand corner suggesting I report to him the following summer the positions of any loons I might see ON THE WHOLE LAKE?! Lake Vermilion? I mean, do they have a map down there to see the size? How big of an idiot does he think I am? Also in the letter it was intimated that with the concentration of people on Vermilion, didn't I think that curtailed the loon population and therefore shouldn't more of our lake be kept wild? Well, this kind of got my dander up because it was at the time we were having all this talk of the state and federal government acquiring our land up here. Besides, the loons and us cohabited beautifully in my view. Goodness, they'd even come right on over near the boat, swim near our docks, and sometimes not even move when being passed by a boat.
So the following July, out came my colorful map of Lake Vermilion and my personal survey began. For every adult I saw I put a black dot on the map, and a red dot for every chick. When I got in smaller bays and saw people on the dock, I'd ask them if they observed any loon families around their bay. Took me 2-1/2 weeks to do from the east end to Oak Narrows. Any idiot, even me, could see that this was as far from accurate as one could get. But as luck would have it, in reading the Sportsmen's Club bulletin with a message from Greg Raps, president at the time, he was soliciting from the readers any projects that had to do with the lake. Light bulb went on: I'd write to him and suggest an organized survey by the club members. He wrote back saying he'd take it up with the board. The board approved it, and we were off to the races. Bob Daggit, board member, organized the east end of the lake, breaking it up into territories and getting volunteers for each territory, and Barb Shook handled the west end. Everyone was to be at their territory at 9 a.m. on a set day (with an alternate day in case of inclement weather) to count singles, pairs, and chicks. This was done by going back and forth in a grid pattern very slowly. The second week in July is chosen because the chicks have survived their preditors and are large enough to count. Over the years the population has remained fairly steady at 256. Our highest count was in 1993 at 331! All of this survey, through the years, could not have been done without the diligent help of all you volunteers. You've all done a super great job and those who are grateful to you are many and farreaching.
Being involved in our Loon Survey has piqued interest and curiosity about this beautiful State Bird, the loon, and we've learned many things.
Along sometime in February our loons that have wintered in the Gulf of Mexico begin to hear the "call of the North," and their dull and brownish-gray plummage slowly returns to their beautiful black and white coloring. They start on the long flight, flying 80 miles an hour, back to their birth lake. Their average time of arrival here on Vermilion is April 23; but of course, Old Mother Nature has her last word here too and that is when the "ice out" comes. One time I decided to add a little adventure to my trek from Minneapolis home and took a meandering circuitous route back. It brought me to that bridge in Grand Rapids where the end of Lake Pokegama runs under it. The ice had cleared near the bridge and I saw 100s of loons just a sea of black and white. Guess that was the end of the line for them until it warmed up and the ice cleared off further north. All those juveniles, who migrated south about a month after their folks did, will stay south for a couple of years until they mature as adults. Then they will return to their birth lake and set up housekeeping.
Of the four calls the loons have (yodel, wail, tremolo, and hoot), the first one you'll hear when they return is the yodel. This is the call exclusively of the male, and he sets up his territory upon his arrival; and that call means: "This is my territory, go find your own."
Because their legs are situated behind the balance point, and they have difficulty walking on land, their nests of sticks, mud, grasses and reeds are inches from the water. They have an affinity to their old nests and try to repair them. Generally two olive green eggs are laid (rarely three) in mid-May, and incubated by both the male and the female alternately. The eggs are rotated and after about 30 days, one chick hatches, and on an average of 17 hours later, the second chick hatches. The chicks are vulnerable to eagles, otters, snapping turtles, northern pike and muskies. For all these reasons the loons prefer to lay their eggs on islands and small weedy outcroppings. You'll hear the tremolo (laugh ) more frequently now. It's an aggressive response when disturbed by predators or motorboats. The wail is most frequent when a loon is separated from its mate or chick. And the last call, the soft short hoot is used when curious, happy or to the chick in affection. They'll ride on their parents' backs for warmth and protection from predators above and below the water. The parent will determine when it is time for the chick to swim on its own.
So here we are approaching summertime to enjoy seeing the beautiful birds by day, and at night hearing their special haunting calls which tug at our hearts. Bringing back times and places from our memories -- the romance of the Northwoods.

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Lake Vermilion is part of the statewide Large Lake Program, which includes annual fish population assessments on the 10 largest lakes in Minnesota. A variety of sampling gear including gillnets, trapnets, seines, and an electrofishing boat are used to sample the various fish species and life stages. Sampling for each gear type is conducted at the same time and place each year in order to determine population trends for the major species. Data is also collected on length, weight, age, and growth for each of the major species. A summary of the 2001 fish population assessment on Lake Vermilion is presented in the balance of this report.

The walleye gillnet catch in the fall of 2001 was 18.2 fish/ net, the highest catch ever observed on Lake Vermilion and the same as the catch in 2000. It was the fifth consecutive year of above average walleye gillnet catches. The East Vermilion walleye gillnet catch was 22.6 fish/net while the West Vermilion catch was 11.8 fish/net. East Vermilion usually has higher gillnet catches of walleye than West Vermilion, however walleye tend to be larger in West Vermilion. High walleye catches in recent years were due to strong year classes produced in 1994, 1995, 1997, and 1998.
Angling prospects for walleye in 2002 are very good, with high numbers of walleye present in the 12-16 inch size range. The harvest will be dominated by a strong 1998 year class, which will be primarily 12-15 inches long at the start of the season. Good numbers of walleye from the 1997 year class will also be available to anglers and these fish will be primarily 14-17 inches long. Anglers can also expect to start catching small walleye from the 1999 year class, which will be 10-13 inches long at the start of the season. Many of these fish will be too small for anglers to keep early in the season, however as these fish grow during the season they will be increasingly acceptable to anglers.
Fall electrofishing is used to sample young-of-the-year walleye and help determine reproductive success for the year. The 2001 fall electrofishing catch of young-ofthe-year walleye was 161 fish/hour, slightly above the historical average. The electrofishing catch had improved after relatively low catches in 1999 and 2000.
The average length of young-of-the-year walleye sampled by electrofishing was 5.5 inches, slightly above the historical average. Data from our sampling program indicates growth of young-of-the-year walleye is a better predictor of year class strength than the number of fish/ hour caught, with fast growing young-of-the-year walleye producing strong year classes. Large young-ofthe-year walleye have better over winter survival than smaller fish. Growth of young-of-the-year walleye in 2001 indicates the 2001 year class will be average to moderately strong. Poor first year growth indicates the 2000 year class will be weaker than average.

Northern pike
The 2001 gillnet catch of northern pike was 0.8 fish/net, slightly below the historical average. The northern pike population has historically been relatively low and has remained quite stable over time. East Vermilion had a northern pike catch of 0.3 fish/net while the West Vermilion catch was 1.4 fish/net. Gillnet catches of northern pike are usually higher in West Vermilion.
Gillnetted northern pike had a mean length of 26.5 inches, slightly above the historical average. The gillnet catch was comprised primarily of age 5 fish, indicating the 1996 year class is relatively strong. Past netting indicated fairly strong year classes were also produced in 1991 and 1994. Angling prospects for northern pike in 2002 should be similar to recent years.

Yellow perch
The 2001 gillnet catch of yellow perch was 21.2 fish/net, slightly below the historical average. It was the lowest perch catch since 1995 and followed a relatively high catch in 2000. East Vermilion had a perch catch of 20.5 fish/net while the West Vermilion catch was 22.2 fish/ net. Gillnet catches of yellow perch are usually similar between East Vermilion and West Vermilion.
The mean length of gillnetted perch was 7.9 inches, slightly above the historical average. Average to strong year classes of perch were produced in 1998, 1997, 1996, and 1995. Anglers who are seeking perch should find good fishing in 2002. Larger perch are available in the Big Bay area of the lake, where 69% of the perch sampled were 9 inches or longer. Perch in the Big Bay area tend to be larger than those in other areas of the lake, probably because they feed on rusty crayfish that are abundant in that area of the lake.

The 2001 trapnet catch of bluegill was 64.7 fish/net, the highest bluegill catch ever observed on Lake Vermilion. Bluegill trapnet catches had been relatively stable for a number of years prior to 2001 at a much lower level. The bluegill trapnet catch for West Vermilion was 119.4 fish/net while the East Vermilion catch was 13.7 fish/net. West Vermilion usually has much higher bluegill catches than East Vermilion.
The mean length of trapnetted bluegill was 5.7 inches, which was near the historical average. Unusually strong year classes of bluegill were produced in 1998, 1997, and 1995. Anglers can expect good bluegill fishing in 2002, although small fish will likely dominate the harvest. Bluegill from the strong 1997 and 1998 year classes will be mostly 4-6 inches long this spring, while bluegill from the 1995 year class will be 6-8 inches long.

Black crappie
The 2001 black crappie trapnet catch was 1.3 fish/net, slightly below the historical average. Lake Vermilion has a relatively low crappie population that is usually dominated by one or two strong year classes. The crappie trapnet catch for East Vermilion was 0.8 fish/net while the West Vermilion catch was 1.9 fish/net. West Vermilion usually has higher crappie catches than East Vermilion.
Trapnetted black crappie had a mean length of 8.5 inches, which was near the historical average. Moderately strong year classes of crappie were produced in 1998 and 1997. Fair numbers of crappie 8-11 inches long will be available to anglers in 2002 from the 1997 and 1998 year classes. Lesser numbers of large crappie will be available to anglers from the 1994 and 1995 year classes.

Smallmouth bass
An electrofishing boat is used as the standard sampling gear for small- mouth bass because they are not often caught in the test nets used for population assessments. The 2001 smallmouth bass catch was 49.7 fish/hour of electrofishing, the second highest catch since sampling began in 1989. East Vermilion had a bass catch of 42.5 fish/hour while the West Vermilion catch was 64.0 fish/hour. West Vermilion usually has higher electrofishing catches of smallmouth bass than East Vermilion.
Smallmouth bass sampled by electrofishing had a mean length of 9.4 inches, slightly above the historical average. Strong year classes of smallmouth bass were produced in 1998, 1997, 1995, and 1994. Angling prospects for smallmouth bass are very good in 2002, although anglers will likely catch more small fish than usual. Most of the bass from the strong 1997 and 1998 year classes will be 7-12 inches long at the beginning of the fishing season.

Muskie population assessments are done once every four years on Lake Vermilion, although East Vermilion and West Vermilion are done in different years due to the large size of the lake. A muskie population assessment was done on East Vermilion in the spring of 2001 and a population assessment is scheduled for West Vermilion in 2002. Large trapnets specifically designed for sampling muskie were used for the 2001 assessment and will be used in all future assessments. Standard lake survey trapnets had been used in previous assessments, however research indicated these nets were too small to effectively catch large muskie. Muskie population assessments are done in the spring shortly after ice-out. This type of sampling targets spawning fish and therefore small sexually immature fish are seldom caught.
A total of 218 different muskie were caught during the 2001 population assessment on East Vermilion, or 1.6 fish/net. Previous trapnet catches of muskie on East Vermilion ranged from 0.2 fish/net in 1993 to 0.4 fish/net in 1997. The high 2001 catch was due to the presence of more year classes in the population and the use of larger nets.
The average length of muskie caught during the assessment was 42.7 inches. Male muskie averaged 40.8 inches long while the average length of female muskie was 45.4 inches. The largest muskie caught during the assessment was 51.4 inches. Most of the muskie caught were 6-11 years old. Because all muskie stocked since 1993 were fin-clipped, it was possible to tell stocked fish from natural reproduction for fish younger than age 8. It appeared that over half of the muskie caught under age 8 were from natural reproduction. Stocking may be adjusted in the future if population assessments continue to show significant natural reproduction.

Exotic Species
Rusty crayfish are a non-native species of crayfish that became established in Lake Vermilion during the 1980s. The source of the introduction was probably anglers using crayfish for bait. Rusty crayfish have become extremely abundant in the eastern portion of the lake and have become a major nuisance. Aquatic vegetation has been greatly reduced in areas of the lake that have been colonized. Rusty crayfish were sampled for the first time in West Vermilion in 1998, although the population there is still relatively low. There is no practical method to reduce the population of rusty crayfish, although the population may eventually decline without intervention. The process of colonization by an exotic species is usually an explosive growth in numbers followed by a gradual decline to a more sustain
able population level. The most important strategy for managing rusty crayfish is to prevent their spread to other lakes.
Heterosporis, a microsporidean fish parasite, was confirmed in one angler caught walleye from Lake Vermilion in 2000. No other cases have been reported from Lake Vermilion, although the parasite has been identified in several other Minnesota and Wisconsin lakes. The parasite causes the flesh of fish to become an opaque white color. The Center for Disease Control examined infected fish samples and did not issue any consumption advisories. Research is currently under way to learn more about the distribution and life history of heterosporis.
A small infestation of curly leaf pondweed was discovered in Everett Bay in 2001, the first time it has been observed in Lake Vermilion. Curly leaf pondweed is an aquatic plant native to Europe, although it has been present in areas of the United States, including southern Minnesota, for many years. Curly leaf pondweed typically grows early in the season and will usually die back by mid-summer. The plant is found in shallow water where it will grow to the surface of the lake. At the peak of the growing season it can form thick mats that are very difficult to boat through. It is difficult to predict how common curly leaf pondweed will become in the lake, although it is possible many of the shallow bays could become infested.
There is potential for other exotic species to become established in Lake Vermilion. Lake Vermilion attracts anglers and boaters from all across Minnesota and the Midwest, providing many possible sources of infestation. The DNR has taken several steps to prevent the spread of exotic species. It is now illegal to transport exotic species, infested water, and aquatic vegetation from lake to lake. The DNR has also established a program to educate the public about exotic species and inspect boats at some public accesses. These efforts and cooperation from the public will hopefully prevent other exotic species from becoming established in Lake Vermilion.

I would encourage anyone who has questions or comments about fish populations in Lake Vermilion to contact me by phone, e-mail, or stop by our new office for a visit. The new DNR office is located just west of Tower along highway 169.
Duane Williams, Large Lake Specialist Minnesota Dept. of Natural Resources Division of Fisheries 650 Highway 169, Tower, MN 55790 Phone: 218-753-2580 ext. 224 Fax: 218-753-2581 e-mail:

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D.N.R. Area Fisheries Supervisor Joe Geis recently informed the Sportsmen's Club Board of the presence of a new exotic plant species in the lake. The aquatic plant, CLidy-Leaf Pondweed, was observed by D.N.R. Fisheries personnel, last summer, near the Public Water Access on Everetts Bay. It is assumed that the plant was transported to Everetts Bay on a boat or boat trailer which wasn't properly cleaned after being removed from an infested lake. This plant has the ability to establish itself quickly and spread over large areas. While it is uncertain that this exotic will displace native species and cause problems, it has the potential to do so. The Sportsmen's Club is, therefore, very concerned about this development and will be monitoring the situation. Club members are asked to report any new locations where this plant is sighted.
The following information on Curly-Leaf Pondweed is being reprinted with the permission of the Wisconsin Lakes Partnership, University of Wisconsin from the publication, "Through the Looking Glass - A Field Guide to Aquatic Plants."

Curly-leaf pondweed Potamogeton crispus (POT-a-mo-JEE-ton CRISP-us)
Potamogeton(Gk.) potamos: river + geiton: neighbor; crispus-(L.) curly

The ice covering the curly-leaf bed was two feet thick. Looking up, the frozen surface gave the appearance of an immense mirror. Black bubbles of air slid toward the hole. The ice fisherman jerked the line of his tip-up, but only bright green leaves dangledfrom the hook.

Description: The slightly flattened stems of curly-leaf pondweed grow out of a slender rhizome. Although it is a submersed aquatic plant, the spaghetti-like stems often reach the surface by mid-June. Submersed leaves (3-8 cm long, 5-12 mm wide) are oblong and attach directly to the stem in an alternate pattern. Margins of the leaves are wavy and finely serrated, creating an overall leaf texture that is "crispy." The stipules (3-8 mm long) are fused to the base of the leaf and disintegrate as the growing season progresses. (See Potamogeton spp. for definition of stipules.) No floating leaves are produced. In the spring, curly-leaf produces flower spikes that stick up above the water surface. The small flowers are arranged in a terminal spike on a curved stalk (2-5 cm). Fruits develop that each have three ridges and a conical beak (2-2.5 mm long).
Curly-leaf also produces vegetative buds called turions that look like small, brown pine cones on shortened branches along the stem. Seeds play a relatively small role in reproduction compared to the turions. Studies of curly-leaf beds in lakes have shown as many as 1,600 turions in just a square meter plot. In some cases, 60-80% of the turions germinate (Nichols 1986).

Similar Species: Curly-leaf could be confused with clasping-leaf pondweed (Potamogeton richardsonii). The size and shape of the leaves of curlyleaf and clasping-leaf pondweed may be similar, but the leaves of clasping-leaf pondweed don't have finely toothed margins and are heart-shaped at the point where they clasp the stem. Another difference is the lack of pine cone-like turions in clasping-leaf pondweed.

Origin & Range: Exotic. The first confirmed specimen of this European exotic in the U.S. was collected in Delaware in the mid-1800s. The first record of curlyleaf in Wisconsin was in 1905, and it is now common throughout the state. Range includes most of U.S.

Habitat: Curly-leaf pondweed is usually found in soft sediments in water ranging from less than a meter to several meters deep. It can tolerate low light and will grow in turbid water.

Through the Year: The cool water adaptations of curlyleaf set it apart from other Wisconsin aquatic plants. It grows under the ice while most plants are dormant, but dies back in mid-July when other aquatic plants are just reaching peak growth. The life cycle of curly-leaf is triggered by changes in water temperature. Warming waters in May stimulate growth of the spring foliage which has wider leaves than the winter growth and wavy leaf margins. During the spring, flowers and fruit may be produced. Then as water temperatures rise in early July, curly-leaf prepares for late summer dormancy. Many turions are produced and the foliage begins to break down. By August, the majority of curly-leaf stems and leaves have decayed and dropped a carpet of sharp-angled turions on the sediment. These turions lie dormant until the water begins to cool in September. When the water temperature falls to about 75 degrees F., the turions germinate to produce winter foliage. The winter curly-leaf growth has flat, blue-green leaves that are narrower, softer and more translucent than the summer leaves. The winter growth form of curly-leaf thrives under the ice. It has been found growing under thick ice and a heavy blanket of snow. When the water warms up in May, spring foliage is produced. Value in the Aquatic Community: Curly leaf-provides habitat for fish and invertebrates in the winter and spring when most other aquatic plants are reduced to rhizomes and winter buds. However, the midsummer die-off of curly-leaf pondweed creates a sudden loss of habitat and releases nutrients into the water column that can trigger algal blooms and create turbid water conditions.

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In the February issue of The Vermilion Sportsman, the first in a series of articles appeared promoting the idea of individual stewardship of our lake. The article received very positive and broad support from our members, indicating a general desire on the part of people who live on or use the lake to take an active part in protecting it. Stewardship describes the desire of people to care for and live compatibly with the natural environment. It is a practical approach to everyday life, whereby people consider the natural environment in their decision-making and at every opportunity make an effort to accommodate, enhance and protect the land.

Because the spring issue of The Vermilion Sportsman emphasizes fishing and reports on the state of the Lake Vermilion fishery, it seems appropriate to discuss positive actions good stewards of the lake can take during this exciting time of year.
  1. Practice "Catch and Release." Keep only enough fish for a "fresh" meal. The Lake Vermilion fishery is a finite resource and fishing pressure increases each year as more anglers are attracted by the lake's excellent reputation. There is a definite point at which the harvest could exceed the natural production of fish and the population of a certain species, such as the Walleye, could decline or even collapse. The collapse of the Walleye fishery at Red Lake is a stark example of a worse case scenario.

    Here are some tips for effectively practicing "Catch and Release":
    • Play, unhook and release fish quickly
    • Needle nose pliers speed up hook removal
    • Keep the fish in water as much as possible
    • Don't rub off protective slime
    • Handle fish firmly but gently, never by eye sockets

  2. Release Walleye over 17 inches in length. Most Walleye over 17 inches are productive females. Releasing them helps to insure the health of the Walleye population and also improves your chances of catching future trophies. "Catch and Release" rulers are available from your local Sportsmen's Club Board Member. Walleye "Catch and Release" booklet / logs are also available from the Sportsmen's Club and awards are given to anglers who can document the release of significant inches of Walleye.
  3. Learn to tell the difference between Muskies and Northern Pike. Muskies under the legal minimum size of 40 inches must be released. Even trophy fish in the 50+ inch range should be released because most are female. Muskies, which were originally stocked in the lake, are now reproducing naturally. Trophy fish can be "photo released" with a graphite reproduction going on the wall instead of taking the fish out of the lake. Because Muskies put up such a vigorous fight, they exhaust themselves and, unless care is taken, may not survive being caught, especially when water temperatures warm up. When releasing fish, hold them upright in the water for several minutes, gently moving them back and forth. This allows them to replace the oxygen in their blood and regain their equilibrium. After release, stay in the area for a while to make sure the fish doesn't resurface.
  4. Avoid dumping unused live bait into the lake. The Rusty Crayfish is an example of a harmful exotic species which was introduced into Lake Vermilion in this manner. Even the water containing the live bait, especially when transported from another area, may contain tiny animals or the eggs of exotic species which could cause damage to our lake. An example of this type of species is the Zebra Mussel. Dump any unused bait and water on dry land, well away from the lake.
  5. Properly dispose of discarded fishing line. Simply dropping it into the bottom of your boat may allow it to blow out into the lake. Loons and other birds and animals can get entangled in the line and strangle themselves. Plastic bait containers, beverage cans and other refuse should also be carefully contained so they cannot blow out of the boat. Littering is a misdemeanor with a fine up to $1000.00.

These are a few more ways the individual can choose to be a "good steward" and help protect and enhance beautiful Lake Vermilion. We encourage our members to contact us with additional ideas or stories.

Dale Lundblad - Vice President

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