Monday, January 30th, 2023
Monday, January 30th, 2023

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Wisconsin Lake Profile – Boom Lake, Oneida County

No bust on Oneida County’s Boom Lake fishery


By Dean Bortz



This week’s report is on Boom Lake in Oneida County, but it’s difficult to talk about Boom Lake without also mentioning all lakes in the Rhinelander chain – and even the 11 miles of Wisconsin River above the chain that ends at the foot of the Rainbow Flowage dam.


While Boom Lake covers at least 365 acres (some sources list its size at 450 acres), the five lakes that make up the Rhinelander chain cover at least 2,200 acres at “normal” water levels. That number is measured up to the Bridge Road bridge, which is considered the top end of the Rhinelander Flowage.


Besides Boom Lake and the Rhinelander Flowage, the chain includes Thunder Lake, Bass lakes, and Lake Creek Lake. Besides the Wisconsin River, the chain receives water from eight other named streams.


Then, above the Bridge Road bridge, there is 11 miles of the Wisconsin River that’s not included in the overall acreage count, but fish can’t read boundary signs, so they use those upper river miles with impunity for much of the year. In fact, the freedom for fish movement in this water body makes assessing the fishery somewhat of a challenge for the local DNR fisheries crew.


The good news? Even if the DNR doesn’t have an exact count on the walleyes, there are plenty of fish of all types out there and anglers don’t have to hunt too hard to find them, according to Zach Woiak, the DNR’s Oneida County fisheries biologist out of Rhinelander.


In April and May, as one might expect, a good number of walleyes, northern pike, and muskies are up in the Wisconsin River or one of the feeder streams, but even then those same species can be found in their “home waters” closer to Rhinelander. By early June, anglers are fishing every available acre of water between the Rainbow Flowage dam and the Rhinelander dam.


From now until the fishing opener on Saturday, May 2, Boom Lake – the entire chain, really – will see a lot of panfish attention. Boom is known for producing decent catches of bluegills, crappies and perch. A good wave of crappies are running through the chain right now, according to Woiak. But anglers should know that the chain has a special panfish regulation for May and June – only 15 panfish may be kept per day, and then only five of each species. Starting July 1, the chain goes back to standard statewide panfish reg.


“It’s always been a good panfish producer,” said Woiak. “You can look out there in March and April and see a lot of anglers watching tip-downs. There are a couple of good year classes of crappies coming through now.


“It’s quite the system. Overall, with the game fish species, everything is pretty healthy. The fish show good body condition. There’s a strong forage base out there with quite a mix of species. There are a lot of suckers, redhorse, and shiners.


“Boom and the rest of the chain has a little bit of everything when it comes to game fish, but Boom probably best known historically for its muskies and now for an up-and-coming crappie fishery. It has a reputation for producing big muskies,” said Woiak, adding that all species except muskies depend exclusively on natural reproduction to maintain their populations. Muskies were recently put back on a stocking quota of .25 fingerlings per acre.


Woiak said the walleyes seem to be more spread out than other game fish species.


“They’re easy for anglers to find in the spring, but less so in the summer. They run upriver to spawn in the stretch of river below the Rainbow Flowage dam,” he said.


The most recent comprehensive survey conducted by the local fisheries crew took place in 2011. At that time, they captured walleyes up to 28.3 inches. That’s likely not the upper end, though, since the crew is limited on net numbers, netting days, and netting sites. It’s difficult to survey walleyes in Boom Lake if the bulk of the fish are sitting in the two miles of river below the Rainbow Flowage dam.


In 2011, the biggest muskie was just over 47 inches. The captured muskies averaged just over 40 inches. The largest smallmouth bass was 19.3 inches and all netted smallies averaged 15 inches. Largemouths averages 14.2 inches and the biggest went 19.4 inches.


Woiak said growth rates for all species run average across the board, with perhaps muskies and panfish showing a little above average growth. The chains moderate depth, fertile water and extensive stump fields and weed beds get credit for the panfish growth rates.


“There is a very good mix of bluegills, crappies and perch out there, depending on where you are in the system.


“The fishery seems to be doing great. We will be out there over the next few years to continue evaluation of the panfish regulation.”

Boom Lake

Nearest town Rhinelander

Surface area 365 acres

Max. depth 30 feet

Water clarity N/A


Fish species present:

Black crappies, bluegills, pumpkin-seeds, rock bass, yellow perch, white suckers, redhorse, smallmouth  bass, largemouth bass, northern pike, walleyes, and muskies.


For information:

DNR regional fisheries office (715) 365-8900, the DNR website, or call The Fishing Hole, (715) 362-1510.

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