Friday, February 3rd, 2023
Friday, February 3rd, 2023

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Wisconsin Lake Profile – Lake Kegonsa, Dane County


Kegonsa boasts deep fishery profile, but needs help


DNR Report


Lake Kegonsa sits on the south end of the Madison Chain of Lakes with 3,209 acres offering a diverse profile of panfish, game fish, and rough fish species. The game fish species even include walleyes and muskies. Lake Kegonsa is part of the Yahara River system that connects lakes on the Madison Chain.


To some anglers, Kegonsa may seem like nothing more than a very large bowl, but this lake does contain some “sneaky” structure in the way of steeper shorelines (limited to several points, but it’s there), mild changes in depth on some bars, deeper holes, fish cribs and weed edges. Williams Point has the lake’s steepest shoreline, but anglers will also find some slope on Colladay Point and Nicholas Point. An extensive rock bar sits off Colladay Point. Fishermen will also find a dozen or more slight humps scattered around the lake that offer enough of a difference in bottom contour to attract fish.


In 2016, the local DNR fishery team ran a spring fyke netting survey on northern pike and walleyes, spring electrofishing survey targeting walleyes, a spring electrofishing survey for largemouth and smallmouth bass and panfish, and fall electrofishing surveys on young-of-year (YOY) and adult walleyes to assess recruitment via natural recruitment and stocking.


The crew handled 27 fish species during the spring surveys. Bluegills were the most abundant species sampled (1,563) with a mean size of 6.44 inches. The largest bluegill went 10.2 inches. Other fish included yellow bass (862, the second most common species) with an average size of 7 inches, with fish up to 12 inches. Black crappies (423) ranged from 3 to 12 inches, white bass (414) ranged 4.6 to 15.7 inches, and perch (15) ran 5.7 to 11.5 inches. Other panfish included pumpkinseeds, rock bass, warmouth, and green sunfish. Bluegills and black crappies (probably perch too) had lower than expected abundance likely related to lower water quality, low aquatic plant abundance, and generally sparse habitat. These fish are sight-feeders; low water clarity reduces their foraging efficiency while diminishing their ability to detect predators.


Walleyes (509 captured) ranged from 7.4 to 28.3 inches, with an average size of 15.92 inches. The population estimate for adult walleyes came in at 1.93 fish per acre for an overall estimate of 6,191 adult walleyes swimming Kegonsa. The team found that a 6-year-old male is approximately 16 inches, compared to 19 inches for a female of the same age.


Northern pike (322) ranged from 9.2 to 40.3 inches, with an average size of 24 inches. The adult pike population estimate settled in at 0.65 fish per acre (2,095 fish). Largemouth bass (60) ranged from 5.1 to 19.7 inches. Smallmouth bass ranged from 7.8 to 15.3 inches.


Muskies are not stocked in Kegonsa, but the do move downstream from the upriver lakes. Muskies captured during the survey ranged from 24.9 to 44.5 inches, with an average size of 36.4 inches.


DNR crew members also handled black bullheads, brown bullheads, yellow bullheads, bowfin, common carp, freshwater drum, and several species of shiners.


Carp numbers are high enough to where the team recommended removal to reduce the Kegonsa carp population to less than 100 pounds per acre. Contractors removed 111,366 pounds of carp in 2017 and 101,105 pounds in 2018, for a total of 212,471 pounds, just over 20% of the goal of removing 1 million pounds over five years. The removal contract had been approved again in 2019.


The team developed management objectives to improve the fishery and water quality, with the carp plan being one of those objectives. For walleyes, the team would like to see more than 10 YOY walleyes per mile of shoreline during fall electrofishing runs over a three-year period. If that happens, the adult  walleye population should hit 3.0 fish per acre. Electrofishing surveys from 2013 through 2017 hit numbers ranging from 18 to 31 YOY walleyes per mile of shoreline.


They’d like to see the pike population increased to 1.5 adult fish per acre and increase the number of pike above the legal limit. Panfish abundances were low across the board and should be increased to levels found in similar lakes. Largemouth abundance is low, but stable. The team would like to see those numbers increased to 14.5 fish per mile of shoreline. Smallmouth size could be improved to include more 11- to 17-inch fish.


There are four boat launches: Fish Camp (Dane County Parks), Williams Point Drive (town of Pleasant Springs), Lake Kegonsa State Park (DNR), and Amundson’s Landing (DNR). Shore fishing is available within the 1.5 miles of public shorelines on the north and northeast shores at Fish Camp Park and Lake Kegonsa State Park.

Lake Kegonsa

Nearest town Stoughton

Surface area 3,209 acres

Max. depth 31 feet

Water clarity Turbid


Fish species present:

Black crappies, bluegills, pumpkinseeds, rock bass, yellow perch, white suckers, common carp, freshwater drum, white bass, channel catfish, flathead catfish, smallmouth  bass, largemouth bass, northern pike, walleyes, and muskies.


For information:

DNR regional fisheries office (608) 275-3266, the DNR website, or call D&S Bait & Tackle, (608) 241-4225.

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