Koshkonong’s water levels affect fish, businesses

Water levels down 3 feet in some places
Koshkonong’s water levels affect fish, businesses

The record heat and drought have decreased water levels at Lake Koshkonong, affecting fish and businesses along the lakeshore.

Koshkonong, a relatively shallow lake with an average depth of 6 feet, is only about half that deep outside Jerry Richardson’s marina.

“The water level is a big issue here,” said Richardson, who owns Harbor Recreation in Newville. “The fishermen are, of course, unhappy right now because (the fish) aren’t biting worth a hoot.”

Fish are distressed because the shallow water warms quickly and doesn’t have as much oxygen. No major fish kills on Koshkonong have been reported to the state Department of Natural Resources, but it is a concern, a department spokesman said.

Meanwhile, the low water levels are challenging for inexperienced boaters and are making it difficult to get to some lakeshore bars and restaurants.

Some people are dropping anchor and walking to shore at the Sunset Bar and Grill on the lake’s north side, the eatery’s manager said. The water is only knee-high at the end of the business’s dock, 400 feet into the lake.

But, customers continue to flock to the lake to escape the heat, including four days of 100-degree temperatures earlier in July. Weekends are especially busy, Richardson said.

“With the weather like it’s been and the lack of rain and all the things that go with that, I think we’re doing pretty good,” he said.

For perspective, Richardson maintains a tree stump near the lakeshore that served as a watermark during the 2008 floods in southern Wisconsin. Water was up to the building’s front doorknob, he said.

“The whole parking lot was covered, all the way up the street,” he said. “That was a negative time for this business. Nothing was happening, nothing was sold.”

The state DNR has a tip line, 1-800-TIP-WDNR, to report fish kills in area lakes.