At over 14,000 acres in size, Lake Minnetonka is the largest lake in the Twin Cities metropolitan area. It is a system of basins with a range of fertility, bottom types, and depths, and is the source of Minnehaha Creek. Minnetonka's size and location make it very popular for year-round recreation, so demands on its aquatic resources are varied and great.
This vast, interconnected system has a large, diverse fish community. A high-quality largemouth bass population draws multiple tournaments every year. Sunfish and crappies provide year-round fishing. Muskie angling has boomed over the last decade. Northern pike and walleye are predator-fish mainstays. Anglers face challenges related to heavy boat traffic and-- at peak use times-- crowded parking and access spaces. Several unwanted exotic species, in particular Eurasian watermilfoil and zebra mussel, are established. Be sure to take the proper measures so undesired organisms aren't spread to or from Lake Minnetonka; it's the law.
MN DNR Fisheries began monitoring Lake Minnetonka fish populations since 1949. From 1997-2012, we made annual gillnet surveys to better examine changes in walleye, northern pike, and yellow perch populations. (Future sampling is expected to occur every other year in even-numbered years.) Muskie and walleye are stocked every other year-- walleye in even-numbered years, muskie in odd-numbered years. Since 1987, a Special Regulation has prohibited northern pike winter spearfishing.
Bowfishing for rough fish is allowed under certain conditions and in certain locations. An agreement among jurisdictions resulted in lake-wide rules coordinated through the Lake Minnetonka Conservation District; a summary is found in their Rules and Regulations .
Recent Survey Summaries
Lake Minnetonka 2012 Gillnet Assessment (Large File: 2.5 MB | 87 pg) Full Written Report
Abundance Trend Graph of Northern Pike and Walleye
Lk Minnetonka Northern Pike & Walleye Gillnet Catches 1977-2012
Angler ("Creel") Survey Results
Lake Minnetonka Angler Survey Summary 1995-96
2013 Lake Minnetonka Stocking:
2,502 walleye yearlings (in north and west bays), by private permit issued to Westonka Walleye Program
Next Scheduled Lake Minnetonka Stockings:
2,925 muskellunge fingerlings (or yearling equivalent) in spring 2014-- delayed because of 2012 "off-year" stockings; 6,446 lb of walleye fingerlings (96,700 or more fish) in fall 2014.
Minnetonka Tested For VHS Virus
Since 2008, gamefishes have been tested to detect presence of the virus causing viral hemorrhagic septicemia (VHS). Minnetonka sampling is part of ongoing statewide surveillance to track possible VHS outbreaks and impacts. Minnetonka will continued to be tested, probably annually, for this virus. As of the most recent test (June 2013), VHS had not been detected.