Enjoy The Spirit

The Spirit Reservoir is a draw down reservoir located in North Central Lincoln County.  The dam was created in 1922 by the Wisconsin Valley Improvement Company (WVIC) with the construction of the dam where the Spirit River flows into the Wisconsin River.  The reservoir is used by WVIC to control water quality and flow on the Wisconsin River.

WVIC is licensed by the Federal Energy Regulatory Committee (FERC) to operate the dam.  A new license went into effect in 1996.  At that time, the Spirit was reclassified from a “fast draw down / fast fill” reservoir to a “steady draw down” reservoir.  This classification put the Spirit in the same water level regime as the other WVIC drawn down reservoirs.  SRA was active in the dam license proceedings in hopes of improving the usability of the Spirit by limiting the amount of draw down allowed.  Despite their efforts, the regulations around the operations of the dam were not altered in 1996.  However, WVIC’s operating plan is subject to comment by the SRA and other concerned parties every 5 years with the next “look in” occurring in 2011.

The Spirit Reservoir consists of over 1,660 acres of water.  It is relatively shallow with a maximum depth of only 22 feet.  The upper portion of the reservoir is a beautiful pristine wilderness with little development.  In this area, the Spirit flows as a river with many areas of flooded woodlands.  By the dam, the reservoir is much wider with several wooded islands providing beautiful vistas.  The 45 miles of shoreline consist of mainly upland (98%) with little wetlands (2%).

The Spirit’s water is slightly acid (pH 6.7) and is medium brown in color with low transparency. The bottom is mostly sand and gravel (78%) with little muck.  Aquatic vegetation is scarce.


Many species of fish are found within the Spirit including Walleye, Black Crappie, Northern Pike, Largemouth Bass, Perch, and Bluegill.  On occasion, anglers land an elusive Muskellunge as well.  The DNR conducts regular fish population studieson the Spirit to monitor natural hatch and stocking efforts. Fishing bag and size limits are strictly enforced.  The minimum walleye length is 15″, but walleye, sauger and hybrids from 20″ to 24″  may NOT be kept, and only 1 walleye over 24″ is allowed.  The daily bag limit is 3.


“A river is more than an amenity, it is a treasure.

It offers a necessity of life that must be rationed

among those who have power over it.”

– Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes

This site is managed and maintained by members of the Spirit Reservoir Assocation (SRA) for the purpose of informing the general public and SRA members about this beautiful body of water found in north central Wisconsin near the city of Tomahawk.