Watershed Facts

The Shell Lake-Yellow River watershed encompasses Spooner Lake and the headwaters of the Yellow River in the north, goes south around Shell Lake, and goes as far west as the Yellow River crossing at County Hwy H in Burnett County. Within this watershed are 63 lakes, 14 streams, and abundant groundwater. The soils range from silt loam to loamy sand.


  • The lower reaches of the Yellow River and Yellow Lake are home to 1 of 6 naturally reproducing lake sturgeon populations in the nation that have over 1,000 sturgeon. To say we have a unique resource is an understatement!
  • Shell Lake is listed as an Outstanding Water Resource by WI DNR, has naturally reproducing walleye, and is one of the best smallmouth bass lakes in Washburn County.
  • Several lakes in the watershed have healthy, abundant fish populations, including musky, largemouth bass, and panfish.
  • Benoit Lake has a small cisco population. Ciscos require cold water with good water quality to survive.
  • Several trout streams are present in the watershed, which depend on cold groundwater.


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