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Tucked in the midst of the Wisconsin's Lake Superior Northwoods Region lies the Chetek Chain of Lakes, also known as Six Lakes. Centuries ago, inhabitants of the Ojibway tribe first named this natural waterway "Little Pelican" in their native tongue. From south to north, the series soft water drainage lakes are known as Ten Mile Lake, Moose Ear Lake, Chetek Lake, Pokegama Lake, Ojaski Lake, and Prairie Lake.
All six basins of the Chetek Chain of Lakes are connected, and can be easily navigated through channels. Ten Mile Lake consists of 376 acres of shallow wetlands, which provides the perfect habitat for mallards and other bird species. Next lies the smallest of the bunch, Moose Ear Lake (34 acres) - which is a magnet for duck and muskrat. Then you'll find Chetek Lake (769 acres), the deepest of the six, and by far the most popular place for enjoying water sports. Wildlife lovers tend to flock to Pokegama Lake (505 acres), which attracts a variety of bird and mammal species including the rare bald eagle. Just south sits Ojaski Lake (577 acres, affectionately known as "Mud Lake"), best known for its swampy marshes and large populations of northern pike and walleye fish. Lastly, Prairie Lake is the largest of the series (1,534 acres), and often visited in the spring and fall by large flocks of loons, Canada geese and coot geese. While nearby Potato Lake is not technically considered a part of the chain, it is nevertheless worth a visit for avid anglers.
Fishing is exceptional year round at the Chetek Chain of Lakes, particularly during the summer and winter months. Bass and panfish are by far the two most sought after species in the area. Other catches include northern pike, smallmouth bass, walleye, largemouth bass, bluegill, bullhead, black crappie, perch, rock bass, and bullhead. The Go Fish program, which tags and releases fish with prices ranging from $25-100 USD, was instituted 22 years ago as an incentive program to entice fisherman. Populations are carefully monitored to ensure that rules and regulations reflect the environmental reality of the area.
A dam is situated where the Chetek River flows into Chetek Lake. Owned by Barron County, this structure controls the water levels of all six lakes. Algae blooms occur during the summer, mostly due to the sandy, shallow topography of the lakes' underbelly. Local facilities include campgrounds, public boat docks, fishing piers, and four parks.
Little Main Street Park is located downtown, the perfect place to rest after a long day of ambling about town. Just across from Chetek Lake lays the shady Gotham Park, with a beautiful pavilion - perfect for family outings and other events. Veterans Memorial park, near Prairie Lake, features picnic tables, fire pits, restrooms, a playground, and a number of short, scenic hiking trails. The fourth park in the area is Phillips Park (also known as Airport Park due to its close proximity to the airport), which is known for its laid-back ambiance and pristine facilities.
During the summer, lake activities include swimming, water skiing, jet skiing, kayaking and viewing the "Hydroflites Water Ski Show Team's" jaw-dropping spectacles. The winter months bring unbeatable ice skating, snowmobiling, skiing, snowboarding ice fishing, and dog sledding opportunities.
Chetek Lake and Prairie Lake are by far the most developed areas, both spotted with numerous vacation rentals, resorts, residential homes and real estate properties.
There are plenty of other things to do in the municipalities surrounding Chetek Lake. From the local brewery to the miniature golf course with pedal kart track, visitors are never bored in Chetek. On a rainy day, indoor bowling alleys, movie theaters, and a roller skating rink provide dry and convenient entertainment alternatives. The Chetek and Pioneer Village Museums display fascinating tours and exhibits explaining Wisconsin's history. Walking tours pass through preserved pioneer buildings from the 19th century, featuring old farmsteads, a doctor's office, library, and train depot.
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