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Silver Lake

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Silver Lake News

    Ice Fishing in Manitowoc County by Todd S. Bergmann 

    Reprinted with permission. Originally published in the Valders Journal on February 1, 2018.

    Recent innovations and technology make it easier to catch more fish, an expert fisherman told area sportsmen last week.  Tournament fisherman Clint Ward addressed a meeting of the Manitowoc County Lakes Association on Jan. 25, discussing everything from his favorite ice fishing equipment to how he beat his cousin using the latest technical advances.

    Ward said the best lakes in the county for catching: bluegills are Carstens, Weyers, West and Bullhead; for crappie it’s Long, Shoe and English; for perch it’s English; and for northerns it’s Wilke, Hartlaub, Schisel, and Cedar.  Additionally, Cedar, SilverEnglish and Pigeon lakes contain small populations of walleyes, he said.

    Ward, who receives no pay for recommending products, advised his audience to use a Vexilar fish finder, among other tips for getting a good catch.   “If I had to pick one tool that would be part of my pan fishing arsenal, it has to be the Vexilar,” he said. “It has changed everything in how I fish.  “Without the Vexilar, it is like fishing without glasses if you wear glasses. It helps you see everything that is underwater.”  This includes weeds, rocks, fish, hard bottoms and even small lures and bait fish, Ward said.

    Unlike most fish finders, the Vexilar does not have to be moving to find fish and is better than fish cameras, which have to be lowered into the water, do not work well in dirty water and often scare game fish, Ward explained.  In tournaments, Ward drills 30 to 35 holes in the ice and then checks with a Vexilar for weeds. Then he puts sticks in the holes without weeds to determine where the weed edge is.  Once he finds a good fishing spot he marks it with a Navionics app using the GPS on his cell phone, Ward said.  “I can put myself on the same spot I was yesterday, if I mark it on my phone,” he said. “It also shows me depth and contours.”  The app is helpful when fishing a body of water for the first time, Ward said.  “It is one of the most valuable pieces of equipment that you will ever see or use,” he said. “It is only $10. If you ever switch phones, it always carries through with you.”  Ward said he can use the fish finder and app to find basins 20 to 40 feet deep which are good for catching crappie.

    He also said ice augers have improved in the past decade for drilling holes for ice fishing. Propane and electric augers are much faster than earlier units and are cleaner than gas and oil augers, he added.  Electric augers are lighter, quieter and more energy efficient than propane augers but do not last as long, Ward added.

    For basic equipment, he buys fishing rods costing $15 to $30, rather than those with $50 to $100 price tags, Ward said.   “You look at a rod like a system,” he said, “It has a couple of moving parts.”  Rods should be 24 to 32 inches long, with fast-action tips and large eyes for the line, Ward said.   Fast-action tips pick up the sensitivity of fish bites while bigger rod eyes prevent ice from building on the rod.  “This allows the rod to move more freely,” he explained.  Ward said he uses a small reel to create excellent balance.  “That balance is a big factor when you are doing a jigging motion,” he said.  Ward recommends purchasing rods and reels separately to avoid buying too heavy of a reel and he also prefers a microspin reel.   “If you are fishing all day, your arm may get sore,” he said. “Having a great drag on a microspin is a plus. When I pull on that drag, I want it to be easy and steady.”  A new advancement is to put fly reels on ice fishing rods, Ward said.  “I went over to this style of reel and I noticed my fishing catch went up using the same lure,” he said. “It keeps my lure for the most part from spinning.”  Live bait does not spin, therefore, spinning lures will not attract fish, Ward explained.   “Once I set my rods to prevent spin, I noticed my fishing catch went up,” he said.

    When choosing line for ice fishing, Ward recommends a 2-pound test weight for bluegills and mid-size perch, three pounds for larger perch and crappie, six to eight pounds for 15- to 19-inch walleyes, 10 to 12 pounds for Great Lakes walleyes and 20 pounds for northern pike.  Ward said his favorite line is Sufix Ice Magic, which is available in a 1- to 12-pound test.  “It is tangle free,” he said. “It does resist ice.”  Most summer fishing lines will not work for ice fishing, Ward said.   “You will find out that the ice really hangs on,” he said. “You get those big gobs, those big chunks of ice on your line.”  Ice lines have chemicals to reduce ice buildup that are not on summer fishing lines.  Ward said he favors light lines to prevent coiling and braided lines for walleye ice fishing.  “It is fairly strong,” he said. “It is tangle free. I use braid on my walleye ice fishing rods. I want that hook set to go right into their mouth. Braid does not stretch.”  However, braided lines do not work well for panfish, especially below 30 degrees, Ward said.   While ice fishing for northerns, Ward used a 20-pound test model leader while his cousin used a steel leader.  “After about an hour and a half of fishing, I had 10 northerns on the ice to his one,” Ward said.   He said he mostly uses tip-less fluorocarbon leaders for fishing in clear water because fish cannot see them.

    On the line, Ward places titanium spring bobbers. They can be moved back and forth, return to being straight after being bent and are extremely sensitive to fish.   “You can’t get any more sensitive than these tiny spring bobbers,” he said.  For baits, rainbow-colored lures work best for bluegills and for perch gold jigs and spoons work best, he said.  “Hali are dynamite on mid-sized perch,” he said. “Wigglers are the best bait I have used for perch. The only thing is wigglers are very hard to keep alive.”  Another great bait is minnow tails, rather than minnow heads, Ward said.  “It tends to float to the left and right, much more than a minnow head,” he said. “A minnow head is more meaty. It stays there.”  Also using small minnows works well especially for perch or crappie, Ward said.

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    July 2017 Meeting Minutes and Presentation Available

    The meeting minutes from the July 27, 2017 MCLA meeting are now available. The guest was Pete Tarnowski. He has made his presentation on the status Manitowoc County Parks available for download. In it, he discusses recent improvements at our lakes, as well as future plans. Please take a look!

    From Pete Tarnowski's presentation. Harpt Lake has a new handicap accessible 30 ft. floating pier that doesn’t have to be removed for winter. A handicap parking spot was also designated.

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Silver Lake, April 2015
Silver Lake, April 2015
by Ken & Karen Schuler,
« 1 of 4 »


Click on the maps to enlarge. Bathymetric Map Courtesy of and Copyright Sportsman’s Connection, based on Wisconsin DNR data. Watershed map courtesy of Manitowoc County Soil and Water Conservation Department. New! Zoom in even closer with this new interactive watershed mapping tool.  

Location/Directions: U.S. Highway 151, Town of Manitowoc Rapids. Take Highway 151 West from Interstate 43 approximately 1 mile. Driveway to the South.

Accessibility: 44′ 4’23.87″N / 87′ 43′ 51.75″W

Surface Area: 72 acres

Shorelength: 2.3 mi

Depth: Max 43′, Mean 16′

Bottom: 0% sand, 15% gravel, 0% rock, 85% muck

Type of Lake: Deep Seepage. Deep Seepage lakes stratify, or form separate layers of water, during the summer months and have no inlet or outlet.

Restrictions: Motors, except for electric motors, are restricted from the lake by Town ordinance. Read the Wisconsin handbook

Recreational Features: Silver Lake provides an excellent opportunity for families to fish from shore or by boat. Even though the majority of the fish that are caught are rough fish, there are still many other types of fish such as large mouth bass, northern pike, perch and panfish. The wooded margins offer the delights of bird watching, especially at the time of the spring and fall migration of warblers. The wayside park and boat launch ramp at Silver Lake have been developed on 12 acres of land leased to Manitowoc County by the Franciscan Sisters of Christian Charity of Holy Family Convent. The park offers an excellent family picnic area, complete with a shelter, grills, tables and toilet building. A concrete boat ramp and pier are available for launching canoes, sailboats and rowboats.

Manitowoc County Map and Photos:

Aquatic Invasive Species Threats:

Verified: Hybrid Eurasian / Northern Water-Milfoil (2010), Rusty Crayfish (no date given), Eurasian Water-Milfoil (2008).
Observed: Purple Loosestrife (2015)

Fishing Regulations:

  • Fish present: Northern Pike (Common), Largemouth Bass (Present), Panfish (Common).
  • Management: Northern Pike, Largemouth Bass, Panfish.
  • View complete Silver Lake regulations at DNR
  • Open All Year
    • Panfish: Bag limit 10. No min length.
    • Catfish: Bag limit 10. No min length.
  • Open 5/6/2017-3/4/2018:
    • Largemouth/smallmouth bass: 18″ Limit 1 total.
    • Northern Pike: 32″ Limit 1.
    • Walleye: 18″ Limit 3.
  • Motor Trolling is allowed with up to 3 hooks, baits, or lures, per angler.
  • Familiarize yourself with Wisconsin fishing:
    WDNR Hook & Line Guide
  • Consumption Advisory: General Manitowoc County/Mercury. Click here.

Fish Stocking:

DNR Fishing Survey Reports:

2015 DNR Silver Lake Fish Survey Report
2012 DNR Silver Lake Fish Survey Report


DNR Fish Stocking Data
Year Species Strain Age Class Number Stocked Average Length (inches)

view more history


DNR Species Summary (2015):
Number of fish caught during the 2015 spring electroshocking
Survey Date: 05-13-2015/Gear: Electrofishing
species Size range Average Length Number
Black Bullhead 4
White Sucker  —  — 1
Walleye  354 mm- 508 mm  439 mm 3
Golden Shiner  —  — 1
Bluegill  50 mm- 181 mm  130 mm 13
Largemouth Bass  389 mm  389 mm 1
Northern Pike  280 mm- 733 mm 19
Yellow Perch  120 mm- 200 mm 141
Brown Bullhead  187 mm 187 mm 1
Pumpkinseed Sunfish 99 mm- 111 mm 105 mm 2
Black Crappie 77 mm- 82 mm 80 mm 2
Green Sunfish 83 mm 83 mm 1


DNR Species Summary (2012):
Number of fish caught during the 2012 spring electroshocking
Survey Date: 05-07-2012/Gear: Electrofishing
species 0-5 6-8 9-11 12-14 15-19 20-24 25-29 >29 Total
Black Bullhead 4
White Sucker 1
Common Carp 2
Walleye 6
Golden Shiner 3
Bluegill 3
Largemouth Bass 19
Northern Pike 19
Yellow Perch 5


There’s a fair population of northern pike in Silver Lake, and if you’re willing to work and do some sorting, you can catch some that are pretty respectable. The lake’s northern lobe has some good weed edges to cast to with crankbaits or live bait. You can also try around the islands. As is the case with northerns, you’ll have to work to find a large crappie, but fish up to 11 inches or so have been sampled in the past. Fish the edges of the deep holes with minnows or jig-and-minnow combinations. You can also take an occasional brown or brook trout in Silver Creek off the lake’s north end.

—Kiel Bait & Gun, 1148 6th St., Kiel, WI 53042, (920) 894-3836


  • 5-Year Average Trophic State: 57/Eutrophic (Source: Wisconsin DNR)
  • Secchi Disk (2016): Average summer reading = 1.75 ft. SE Georegion average = 6.8 ft. Summer (July/Aug) water was reported as MURKY and BROWN. This suggests that the Secchi depth may have been mostly impacted by tannins, stain from decaying matter. Tannins are natural and not a result of pollution. Tannins can be distinguished from suspended sediment because the water, even though it’s brown, it looks clear, like tea. Though tannins are not harmful per se, they are often not perceived as aesthetically pleasing as clear water. Tannins can also be important for decreasing light penetration into the water and decreasing algal growth.
  • Chemistry (2016): The average summer Chlorophyll was 37.1 µg/l (compared to a Southeast Georegion summer average of 23.5 µg/l). The summer total Phosphorus average was 49.5 µg/l. Lakes that have more than 20 µg/l and impoundments that have more than 30 µg/l of total phosphorus may experience noticeable algae blooms.
  • Trophic State Index (TSI) (2016): 62/Eutrophic. What does this mean?
    Eutrophic lakes are high in nutrients and contain large populations of plants, algae, and fish, which often grow to nuisance levels, and the fish species are generally tolerant of warm temperatures and low oxygen conditions. Phosphorus can fuel algae blooms. This TSI usually suggests blue-green algae become dominant and algal scums are possible, extensive plant overgrowth problems possible. 

View this graph on the DNR website

Based on Wisconsin DNR data from volunteer readings taken on 7 different days in April-August 2016.

Click on the maps to enlarge. Bathymetric Map Courtesy of and Copyright Sportsman’s Connection, based on Wisconsin DNR data. Watershed map courtesy of Manitowoc County Soil and Water Conservation Department. New! Zoom in even closer with this new interactive watershed mapping tool.  

Additional documents:

Silver Lake Manitowoc report 12-19-2008

Updated: April 26, 2017 — 12:56 pm

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