Trout Ponds of the Washburn County Forest
In addition to well known Sawmill Lake, 17 trout ponds are being stocked in the Washburn County Forest that you won’t find in the regulations book or even most maps. In fact, most of these ponds have no official names yet. Some are a stones throw from the road while others require a 2 mile hike on trails closed to motorized use. Just finding them is part of the adventure.
Use the links below to find where the ponds are in the county, GPS co-ordinates and specific pond information. Click on the trout icon to get the forest trail maps. Please note that many of the lake areas are closed to motor vehicle traffic. A grey map background indicates the trails are open to motor vehicles. Blue or pink indicates a closed area.
WI-DNR stocks the otherwise fishless freeze-out ponds with 2 inch long brook trout fingerlings in the spring. Occasionally rainbow or brown trout might get stocked. The little fingerlings grow fast and reach a decent pan size of 7 to 10 inches by fall. Winterkills are frequent but not annual. Trout can reach bragging size in just two summers when no winterkill occurs. The number and size of trout available reaches a peak about the time the regular trout season closes. At that time there can be more legal size trout available in these 17 little ponds than all one hundred miles of the county's trout streams. These ponds remain open through the first Sunday in March so that the fish can be harvested before any winterkill might occur. (check "lakes and ponds without outlet streams" under Washburn County in the trout regulations book) A 7 inch minimum size and a bag limit of 5 per pond (Category 2) with up to ten per day if you fish more than one pond.
In order to maintain the quality of these fisheries, please do not use live minnows for bait. The presents of any other fish species, including little minnows, will reduce the growth and survival rate of the trout fingerlings. Even if a minnow species is already present, the accidental introduction of additional species will compound the problem.
Sawmill Lake is managed as a two story trout lake with bass and panfish present. A 2 bag limit applies but the rainbow trout stocked here in the fall are quite a bit larger than the minimum 12 inch size limit. Fishing with minnows is not a problem on Sawmill.