Star Lake: The Lake
Star Lake is an exceptional lake in Vilas County in that it is both fairly large, and quite undeveloped. It is 1,213 acres in a horseshoe shape; the fact that it was named anything but horseshoe lake suggests that it was named by someone standing on its shore and not looking down from above, or viewing a good map. It has two bays, running southwest to northeast, connected at the southwest end.
There are three developed parcels on the lake: One at the northeast end of the north bay, a second on a peninsula on the north side of that bay, and the last the Star Lake townsite, at the northeast end of the south bay. All the other land, including the peninsula that divides the two bays, is owned by the Northern Highland-American Legion State Forest, Northern Highland area--making the shoreline about 88% state-owned. There were three resorts on the lake, but one--Murphy's Housekeeping Cottages--was sold off in the 1970's; a second, Rizzo's Silver Muskie Resort, closed in 2005;and the third, North Star Lodge continues in operation. 2022 update: The lodge was sold in 2021 and reservations cancelled. The future use of the lodge is unknown.
The lake has been a good fishery, providing muskie, walleyes, bass, northern pike and panfish. In recent years an overpopulation of the invasive rusty Crayfish has severely reduced the weeds in the lake and consequently reduced its fish carrying capacity. Over the years it has been stocked with walleye, largemouth bass, smallmouth bass, and muskie. 2022 Update: There has been an almost total die-off of crayfish in the past few years, evidently due to a parasite that attacks the rusty crayfish. This has led to a return of much of the weeds in the lake, and presumably the lake's fish carrying capacity.
The lake has an average depth of 15 feet, with a maximum depth of between 65 and 70 feet, reached in two deep holes. It has an inlet from Little Star Lake to the north and an outlet to Plum Lake in the south. It ultimately drains into the Wisconsin River and then to the Mississippi. Little Star Lake is the furtherest upstream the Wisconsin River watershed extends, the next lake north, Ballard, drains into the Manitowish, Flambeau, Chippewa river system. The lake directly drains an area of six square miles.
Star Lake drains into Plum Lake via Star Creek. The outlet to the creek is on the south shore of the lake. There is a dam at the outlet, just before the creek passes under a bridge that lets hikers continue on the trail around the lake. There is a road to the outlet from Highway N, leaving N just at the Star Lake East Campground. The dam is simply a concrete barrier that cannot be adjusted. It provides a minimum water level for the lake. The DRN ID number for the dam is 1508. The DNR online information sheet indicates that the dam was approved 12/1/1927, and inspected the preceeding August and September. It was subsequently inspected in 1940, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1970, 1972, 1979, and 1985. Inspection reports are evidently on file for the inspections between 1962 and 1972.
Note: The statistical data are from a Lake Survey of Star Lake, 1969, by the DNR. Copy in the "Star Lake File" at the Rhinelander DNR and in the files of Charles Forbes in Star Lake.
**** indicates no known author.
The DNR Invasive Species Inventory for Vilas County Lakes, shown under LINKS in this Topic, 2011, shows these invasive species in this lake: Banded mystery snails, Chinese mystery snails, and rusty crayfish.
Loon Hoots, Newsletter of the Plum Lake Association, in its June 26, 2014, issues reports the presense of spiny water flea in December, 2013. A 2019 Brochure confirms the presence of spiny water fleas.
PERCENT SHORELINE PUBLIC OWNED
The percentage of the shoreline owned by the State of Wisconsin has been variously reported between 80% and 90%. In 2013, using Google Maps, Craig and Charles Forbes carefully measured the shoreline to be 10.5 miles. Using the same map protocols, the three pieces of privately held shoreline meansured 1.3 miles. That would mean 87.6% of the shoreline was public. There are two uncertainties in this measurement: First, the length of the shoreline varies depending on how close together the meansuring points are set. However, since the same protocol was used for both measurements, this does not significantly affect the percentage figure. However, the other issue does affect the percentage. There are three manmade peninsulas extending into the lake: Two extending to the site of the former railroad trestle at "Trestle Bay" where the East Campground is located. The third is at the mill site, extending toward the townsite. In measuring the total shoreline those artifical extensions were not included. Had they been included in the total shoreline measurement, it would have increased the percentage of shoreline that was owned by the state.
AIS BOAT INSPECTIONS
The DNR website provides this data for Star Lake, gathered at the public boat landing near the East Star Lake Campground:
Year: 2007 / 2008 / 2009 / 2010 / 2011
Boats Inspected: 9 / 10 / 12 / 191 / 229
People Talked to: 24 / 24 / 46 / 507 / 571
Manhours used: 4 / 4 / 14 / 100 / 141
Refer to the link "AIS Boat Inspections"