Fishing on Conover Lakes – a WDNR Fisheries Program

The Conover Lakes Committee is sponsoring a DNR Fisheries program: “Fishing on Conover Lakes” on July 12, 2023, 5:30 pm at the Conover Recreation Center.

Please join us — it’s free and open to all (not just Conover folks).

Eric Wegleitner, Fisheries Biologist for Vilas County, will review the state of fisheries in Conover lakes, and what the agency is doing to promote the fishery in our area.

Did you know: WDNR’s Fisheries Management Program supports and promotes 161 different fish species! Find out how many are here in the Conover lakes.

Some topics may include:

  • Any current or potential problems with our fishery in the Conover area
  • Ongoing or future programs to research the health of fish in Conover lakes
  • Changes in species of fish in Conover lakes over time
  • Concerns about the fishery that we should all watch for, and how to report them.

Following the presentation, there will be ample time for Q&A, the best part of the program!


2023 VCLRA Summer Newsletter

Our latest newsletter is available online (print edition out soon). Read about:

  • Six-county workshop/annual meeting on July 14th featuring an expert panel on law-enforcement challenges affecting the health and enjoyment of our increasingly-crowded lakes and rivers;
  • Update on wake boat resolutions;
  • Free workshops on new toolbox to help protect and improve your lake
  • VCLRA scholarships awarded to two area high school seniors;
  • Spiny water fleas;
  • Permanent Shoreland Protection & Workshop on June 26th
  • Northwoods LIGHTS OUT! campaign;
  • and more!

2023 6-county lakes & rivers workshop

This year’s 6-county lakes & rivers workshop will take place on July 14, 2023, 8:30 am-12:30 pm, at Nicolet College in Rhinelander. The annual event is co-sponsored by the Oneida and Vilas County Lakes and Rivers Associations. In addition to expert briefings on timely subject areas by distinguished presenters, we will have a moderated panel to discuss the law enforcement challenges stemming from enhanced wake boats and other watercrafts, short-term vacation rentals issues, zoning violations and other areas that impact the health and enjoyment of our Northwoods lakes and rivers.

Eric Olson, director of UW-Extension Lakes, will be opening and moderating our workshop and panel. It should be a great event involving a prominent group of speakers to kick off meaningful dialogue about issues our lake communities deeply care about in the Northwoods .

As in the past, VCLRA will hold its annual meeting following the conference. The event is free and no registration is required. See draft agenda for more details. Updates may follow as the agenda is finalized.

For more information, contact Tom Ewing (VCLRA) at or Ted Rulseh (OCLRA) at, or use the contact form at

Winter 2022-23 newsletter available

Our Winter 2022-2023 newsletter is available online (members who get print copies will get these by mail in a few weeks). Read about Hazardous Wake Issues, Blue Heron Stewardship awards, AIS prevention and much more…

View newsletter

Changing climate impacts our lakes

by Dea Larsen Converse, 

A recently released report on climate impacts to water resources in Wisconsin from the Wisconsin Initiative on Climate Change Impacts (WICCI) shows that warming temperatures and changing precipitation patterns are impacting Wisconsin’s wealth of water resources. The last two decades have been the warmest on record in Wisconsin and the past decade has been the wettest.

“The warming climate is having an impact on water resources in Wisconsin. We need to increase the magnitude and urgency of actions to protect and restore habitat and enhance water quality to make Wisconsin’s waters more resilient to climate change.”

– Katie Hein, WICCI Water Resources Working Group Co-Chair

Yet, there is hope. The WICCI report suggests solutions to prepare for and minimize climate impacts to water resources, like increasing water storage across the landscape, installing green infrastructure, protecting wetlands, building outside of flood zones, and installing flood warning systems. Visit the Water Resources Working Group webpage to learn more. There is hope for the future, but it is up to us.

Read more here.

Dea Larsen Converse is Communications Director for Wisconsin Initiative on Climate Change Impacts, a nationally recognized collaboration of scientists and stakeholders working together to help foster solutions to climate change in Wisconsin. 

Photo credit: Deer Lake Morning by Kevin Sink

2022 Six-County Lakes & Rivers Conference Presentations

Presentations from the 2022 Six-County Lakes & Rivers Conference
Friday July 15, 8:30a – 12:30p, Lakeside Center, Nicolet College, Rhinelander
The original announcement for this annual event hosted jointly by VCLRA and OCLRA is here.


Welcome/Updates: Patrick Goggin, Lakes Specialist – UW-EX Lakes

Policy Picture/Lake Carrying Capacity: Mike Engleson, Executive Director – Wisconsin Lakes

Wakeboats Impacts/Remedies 1: Chuck Becker, SafeWakes Minnesota Lakes

Wakeboats Impacts/Remedies 2: Jeff Meessmann, Last Wilderness Alliance

Tourist Rooming Houses/Access and Viewing Corridors: Bob Thome, Oneida County Supervisor

AIS: Shoreline Inspection: Joe Steinhage, Two Sisters Lakes

AIS: Full-Time CBCW: Keith Montgomery, Black Oak Lake


Managing your lake shoreline buffers for healthy waters

06/28/2022 12:30 PM – 04:30 PM CT at the North Lakeland Discovery Center

Our Northwoods lakes have a protective shield – healthy shoreline buffers! Join Mariquita Sheehan, Conservation Specialist for the Vilas County Land & Water Conservation Dept. as she surveys the Statehouse Lake shoreline to quantify the health of the buffer, identify areas that might need some modification, and make a plan to fix any problems we find. Take home skills and materials to use on your own shoreline buffers! This is a free workshop.  Registration appreciated by 6/26.

black and red typewriter on white table

Spring 2022 newsletter available

Check out our latest newsletter. Learn about our upcoming, 2022 Northwoods Six-County Lakes & Rivers Conference (which incorporates our VCLRA annual meeting) on July 15th at Nicolet College, which returns to an in-person format. Our theme is wakeboats, lake capacity and other key issues impacting lakes and rivers. This newsletter also has a wealth of information about useful tools, initiatives and resources to keep our lakes and rivers healthy. Finally, don’t forget to renew your membership, or join today!

Northern lights reflecting in Plum Lake

Capturing Vilas County’s beautiful starry-night skies

  • Northern lights and star trails over wintry Plum Lake
  • Plum Lake star trails and northern lights
  • Foot prints on snow-covered Plum Lake with northern lights
  • Milk Way over Plum Lake
  • Moon over Crystal Lake
  • Northern lights reflecting in Plum Lake
Photos and article by Kate Reichl

My love for the night sky started when I was just a kid, as early as I can remember. I grew up on the south shore of Plum Lake in Sayner, which was the perfect spot to see the night sky. Growing up one of my favorite things to do (and my familys) was to take our boat out on the lake at night, we called it a midnight boat-ride. Once out on the lake you can see so many stars since there isn’t any light pollution near Sayner. That is where it all began. As I got older I realized that I wanted to be able to take photos of what I was seeing and share my view with others. It wasn’t until I was 18 that I got my first camera and started learning how to photograph the night sky. Being that I lived on the south shore of the lake, I was also able to look across the water and see the northern lights.

There are many different types of astrophotography. There are star trails, single exposure, and photographing objects in space like the moon or planets. My favorite is a single exposure with landscape. When I take these photos there’s a lot of planning that goes into it before I even start the exposure. For example, where is the milky way and do I want it in my shot? Or is there a light in the foreground/landscape that will mess up the photo? Once I figure out what I actually want to take the photo of and set up my camera to be looking in that direction, comes setting the focus. You’ll always want your focus (manual) to be set to or around infinity. When it comes to settings a good place to start is the lowest aperture your lens will go, for me that’s usually 2.8 since I love my Sigma 14-24mm lens for astrophotography. For exposure 15 seconds is a good place to start, and an ISO of 1000. Then I take some test pictures to make sure that the focus is right along with the settings. If the settings/focus need to be tweaked, the test pictures are the time to figure that out. Then set a timer so that there are a few seconds between when you press to take the photo and the photo is actually taken, just to make sure there isn’t any extra movement. If you’re doing a single exposure, that’s all you’ll need. If I plan on photographing the northern lights, the set-up is the same and it just comes down to tweaking those settings.

If you plan on doing star trails to a time-lapse, you’ll need to use an intervalometer. Some cameras have these built in, and other times you have to buy an external one. These devices let you take multiple shots in a row, and at certain intervals. This way your camera will take multiple photos over the course of a few hours to get the photos that you need to make star trails or a time-lapse later on in processing. Make sure you have a large SD card, the number of photos needed to create star trails and time lapses can sometimes reach into the 100GB+ range. To process these types of projects I use Lightroom, Photoshop, and sometimes StarStax.

Another piece of equipment that you don’t necessarily need, but could help, is a tracker. These devices track the stars so that you can get longer exposures without creating star trails from the movement of the Earth. This will help fainter stars and more details show up in your photos. I personally use the iOptron SkyTracker pro.

I have a few different camera set ups when it comes to taking photos of the night sky, that way I can make the most of my time by having multiple set ups each night. But by far my favorite setup is my Canon 6DMKII with a Sigma 14-24mm lens, along with the iOptron tracker. The Canon 6DMKII has a built in intervalometer so I don’t need to connect and external one. This set up is great for wide landscape-astrophotography.

Photographing the night sky takes knowledge in your equipment, post processing workflows, and astronomy. Although it also takes a love for the night sky and a want to share its beauty and mystery. Humans have always looked up to the night sky in wonder and curiosity, and thanks to modern technology we are able to share that wonder with each other.

Youth Conservation Poster Contest

Daryn Smolinksi, Mollie Waltz, and Clark Higley are the winners of the 2022 Vilas County Land & Water Youth Conservation Poster Contest.

The Vilas County Youth Conservation Poster Contest is held annually to promote youth awareness of local land and water conservation issues.  Vilas County Land & Water staff partner with teachers, home schoolers, and other educators to offer lessons that meet academics standards.   This year Land & Water staff were able to go into classrooms with soil samples and vegetables to teach the theme of “Healthy Soil: Healthy Life”.

Read more “Youth Conservation Poster Contest”