By: Mark Schram, myfishingpartner.com
I’ve been receiving numerous requests regarding current conditions on the Winnebago System, after the strong storms and localized flooding. For those travelers/tourist outside the general area, heavy rains descended upon the Winnebago region in east-central Wisconsin dropping just shy of a whopping 8” of rain over 72 hours on some locations. Two waterspouts were reported on Lake Winnebago on Tuesday.
Heavy flows from the swollen area rivers and feeder creeks are bringing massive amounts of water into the system, along with significant debris including many tree limbs. As a result, there are veins of dirty and clean water on Lake Winnebago. Many of the creeks are pushing into the flood stage.
Some of the area boat launches have submerged launches as Lake Winnebago has water levels which have significantly risen, especially along the west shore. Minor impacts have been seen on the East shore. Wind-driven waves will impact the shorelines and launches daily.
As of Thursday morning, all area rivers continue to rise vs. the previous readings. The highest levels have yet to be achieved as of Thursday, and rain is forecasted heading into the Labor Day Weekend. A flood warning remains in effect for Winnebago County. According to the National Weather service “there is minor flooding to boat docks and backyards of homes in area of the gage and along the western shore of Lake Winnebago. Water is reaching homes during periods of strong onshore winds.” For example, upstream gauges at Menasha were listed as 2054 CFS as of August 16, 2018, and have risen to 6062 CFS on August 30th. During the same time, flows have changed on the Fox River (Appleton) from 1,647 CFS to 12,291 CFS.
There have been significant changes in the water temperatures. On Lake Poygan water temperatures have dropped from 80 degrees to 70 degrees. Lake Winnebago is registering 67 in Oshkosh, 71 in Fond du Lac and 69 degrees in Menasha as of the time of this report. This is roughly a 6-degree water temperature drop.
Up-river information: The Fox River at New London is twice it’s mean average of discharge per cubic feet, creating abnormal current currently.
While limited access is occurring to specific boat launches, I am not aware of any “no wake restrictions” on any waterway at the time of this report. However, it would be reasonable for those to go into effect prior to the Labor Day weekend. Specific launches which were restricted are Lakeside West in Fond du Lac and the Neenah Rec on Wednesday. Lakeside West restrictions were due to downed trees leading to the launch, and this had reopened on Thursday. The Neenah Rec docks were submerged.
Bottom Line: The good news is the perch bite remains strong post-storm. The real impact of the storms on Lake Winnebago is the debris in the water, dirty water and higher than normal water levels. The Fox River system has high water current and rising water, which is unlikely to improve over the holiday weekend based on the future rain forecasted.