This was to have been the second of two assessments scheduled in the 2006 lake management plan to determine whether regular walleye stocking should be resumed in this lake. The first (in 2008) was canceled due to a shortage of staff and funding. Ball Club Lake is managed primarily for walleye, with a long term goal of maintaining a minimum gill net catch of 6.0 fish/set, with some fish over 20 inches. The secondary management species is northern pike, with a long term goal of maintaining a minimum gill net catch of 1.5 fish/set, with some fish over 25 inches.
Walleye were abundant but small in Ball Club Lake in 2012, and management goals for walleye were met. The gill net catch exceeded the normal range the lake class, and was the highest seen in this lake since 1985. Walleye over 20 inches were present, with a few taken in trap net sets. The mean weight for walleye taken in gill nets, although below the normal range for the lake class, was similar to values from past assessments of this lake. Although fingerling stocking done in 2007 may have contributed to a strong year class produced that year, several natural year classes also contributed to the catch, including relatively strong year classes in 2006, 2009, and 2010. Walleye growth rates had been fairly typical for a lake of this class, in this area. Three-year-old walleye reached a mean length of 12.0 inches at the end of their third year, compared to an area average of 11.6 inches. Good walleye growth was supported by a forage base consisting primarily of yellow perch.
During spring electrofishing by the Fond du Lac band and the 1854 Treaty Authority, 304 walleye 10 inches or larger were marked and released in Ball Club Lake. Recaptures of marked fish during the August 2012 assessment allowed us to estimate that the lake supported a total population of 1,051 walleye 10-inches or larger in April 2012 (plus or minus 572 fish).
It appears that resumed walleye stocking is not necessary in this lake. The walleye goal was met in 2012, almost entirely by naturally-produced fish. Natural year classes were strong enough, and were produced often enough, to support a good walleye fishery.
No northern pike were taken in the 2012 assessment, in any sampling gear. Northern pike gill net catches in this lake have varied widely, and catches of zero fish have occurred in the past. Low catches have always been followed by a quick recovery, with no management intervention.
The yellow perch gill net catch increased considerably between 2004 and 2012, perhaps due to the decline in northern pike abundance. Although yellow perch were fairly abundant, and provided a good forage base for walleye, most were too small to have attracted much interest from anglers.
White sucker were also abundant in 2012; the gill net catch exceeded the normal range for the lake class, and was the second highest seen in this lake historically. White sucker may also have benefitted from the lack of northern pike in 2004 and 2012. From the length frequency distribution it was apparent that several year classes contributed to the 2012 white sucker catch.