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. Beginning in 1997, we have made annual gillnet surveys to better examine changes in walleye, northern pike, and yellow perch populations. A "full" fish survey (using multiple sampling types) is scheduled for 2012. 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.
Recent Survey Summaries
Lake Minnetonka 2011 Gillnet Assessment (Large File: 3 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
2012 Lake Minnetonka Stockings:
1,200 muskellunge fingerlings (tagged) & 215 muskellunge yearlings (tagged); yearlings were a gift from Muskies, Inc.
6,444 lb (113,471 fish) walleye fingerlings in autumn 2012; private-contract purchase
Next Scheduled Lake Minnetonka Stocking:
TENTATIVE/SUBJECT TO CHANGE 2,925 muskellunge fingerlings in autumn 2013; number likely to be reduced or deferred because of 2012 stockings.
Minnetonka Tested For VHS Virus
Gamefishes from the lake have been tested since 2008 to detect presence of the virus causing the disease viral hemorrhagic septicemia (VHS). Minnetonka sampling is part of the ongoing statewide surveillance to track possible VHS outbreaks and impacts. Minnetonka will continued to be tested, probably once annually, for this virus. As of the most recent test (April 2012), VHS had not been detected in Lake Minnetonka.