North Lake access receives board OK

By Dan Durbin Correspondent

Waukesha, Wis. — On Tuesday, May 24 the Waukesha County Board
gave a big boost to the DNR’s North Lake boat launch efforts when
it voted 17 to 14 to put $200,000 toward the purchase of the
six-acre Kraus site.

The $1.1 million deal now goes to Gov. Jim Doyle, who appears to
support such purchases when local governments contribute to the
project. The purchase has support from the DNR, although it has
drawn some criticism from landowners around the lake.

The North Lake Management District (NLMD) has been pushing local
officials to buy a different site on the lake that would cost
roughly $400,000, another $223,000 to develop. They say the site
would be less obtrusive to homeowners on North Lake.

Jerry Heine, of NLMD, said they had support from the villages of
Merton and Chenequa for what’s known as the Kuchler site.

“We just want to keep this landing away from the residential
area,” he said. “The DNR is not spending tax dollars the way it
should, because we have offered a way for access, with a much
cheaper price tag.”

Others say giving in to NLMD demands could mean the launch
wouldn’t be adequate, or even developed, because the Kuchler site
includes wetlands. The DNR also has doubt about the Kuchler site
because it’s shallow and could pose a winter access problems.

Don Camplain, president of the Waukesha County Conservation
Alliance, couldn’t be happier about the county board’s
decision.

“People deserve the right to fish on our waters,” he said.
“North Lake has long been a lake that we have tried to gain access
to. For years, the DNR came close, but the lake association has
always been able to stop access.”

Dave Dahms, DNR access coordinator, is thrilled to see that
Waukesha County is willing to partner with the DNR.

“There was a lot of discussion for this topic,” he said. “Now
that we have Waukesha’s partnership, we hope the governor’s office
will go along with the purchase.”

Although Dahms didn’t know when the landing would be built if
the purchase is made by the June 15 deadline, he did say it would
be a high priority.

“We would probably bump a few projects that are already on the
books to try to get North Lake developed,” he said.

Fishing not bad on North Lake

All the fuss about gaining access to North Lake has sparked a
lot of interest among anglers in Waukesha County.

Tom Kemos, of Pewaukee, has access to a private launch on the
lake and offered to take a reporter out to explore the lake, and
catch some smallmouth bass.

“This is a challenging lake,” Kemos said. “There isn’t really a
lot of structure, so in the spring, when the fish come in to spawn,
they’re pretty easy to catch. But they’re also vulnerable.”

That’s one of the things that worries Kemos about the public
access to the lake.

“If people come in here and pick fish off the beds and don’t
practice catch and release, I could see the lake taking a major
negative turn in a hurry. I’m for public access, but I would love
to see something in place to protect at least the spawning fish. I
wouldn’t mind if it was set aside as a trophy fishery.”

The day started off slowly, thanks to a storm. Once the
lightening stopped, Kemos looked for shallow water with sand and
rock for bass.

“Out here you’re casting for any piece of structure you can
find, including weeds, rocks, and even old beds,” he said. “If we
see a lot of vacant beds, that means a front pushed the fish off
them, or the fish have already spawned and moved off.”

Kemos loves to fish smallmouths, and according to him, North
Lake is one of the best in the county for bass.

“But I only fish pre-spawn bass a few times a year,” he said. “I
could come out here, pound on them and catch a good portion of the
larger fish, but I restrain myself to a few trips and all the fish
go back. I just can’t stress enough how important it is to get
these fish right back in the water after you catch them.”

Despite a front coming through, this duo caught about a dozen
smallmouths up to 19 inches in just a couple hours. Along the way,
some amazing schools of walleyes working the shallows were
seen.

“You don’t see schools of walleyes in the shallows on many
Waukesha lakes,” he said. “This lake has a lot to offer. We just
need to treat it right once a public launch does come to be.”

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