By Ed Runyan
The recent rainfall and melting snow put Mosquito Lake’s water levels back up to normal after last summer’s drought.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers actually had to release extra water from the lake this week for the first time in many months, said Dianne P. Kolodziejski of the Army Corps of Engineers, natural-resource manager for the lake.
“We’re back to where we should be should be, but who knows what the rest of the winter will bring,” Kolodziejski said.
Last Tuesday’s lake level was 899.55 feet above sea level, which is 4 inches higher than the optimum wintertime level of 899.23, she said.
The Army Corps needs to maintain the lake level as close to 899.23 as possible to provide storage capacity for the traditional spring rains and thawing snow, she said.
One week ago, the lake still was about 6 inches below optimum.
Last year, there was very little rain or thawing snow, and the drought continued throughout the summer.
In September, the lake was nearly 5 feet below the optimum summer level of 900.7 feet, curtailing use of the lake by boaters, fishermen and swimmers.
The return of the lake to normal levels means the spawning of eggs from the walleye and the state’s measures to promote a higher amount of fish should take place without any complications, Kolodziejski said.
Last September, Kolodziejski said low lake levels could reduce the quality of this spring’s “class” of fish and affect the number of legal-sized fish available in a couple of years.
During parts of 2011, the lake was overfull — the second highest water level on record, Kolodziejski said.
“Mother Nature is full of surprises,” Kolodziejski said.
The lack of cold temperatures last winter also prevented the lake from freezing, meaning there was no ice fishing last year.
When the lake froze last month, ice fishermen were eager to get on the ice and rushed it, fishing on ice that was only two to four inches thick in most cases, Kolodziejski said.
The lake was frozen for about 10 days, but the ice was really thin for ice fishing most of those days, she said.
All of the local reservoirs are now at or above their ideal wintertime level, according to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.