Fisheries Lake Survey

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Name: Bad Medicine (Lake Of The Valley)

Nearest Town: Ponsford
Primary County: Becker
Survey Date: 06/25/2012
Inventory Number: 03008500
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Public Access Information

Ownership Type Description
MnDOT Concrete Boat ramp at north end of lake off MN 113

Lake Characteristics

Lake Area (acres): 745.68
Littoral Area (acres): 288
Maximum Depth (ft): 84
Water Clarity (ft): 24.5 (17-32)

Dominant Bottom Substrate: N/A
Abundance of Aquatic Plants: N/A
Maximum Depth of Plant Growth (ft): 1.7 (0-10)

Did you know? Each year, DNR fisheries personnel stock game fish fry and fingerlings in lakes lacking habitat for natural reproduction.

Fish Sampled for the 2012 Survey Year


Gear Used

Number of fish per net

Average Fish Weight (lbs)

Normal Range (lbs)


Normal Range

Bluegill Trap net 0.42 5.6 - 42.3 0.58 0.1 - 0.3
Burbot Gill net 1.89 0.1 - 0.4 2.37 1.5 - 2.5
Largemouth Bass Trap net 0.08 0.3 - 1.1 5.73 0.2 - 0.9
Northern Pike Trap net 0.50 N/A 1.53 N/A
Gill net 3.00 3.1 - 8.5 2.69 1.5 - 2.7
Rainbow Trout Gill net 6.00 N/A 0.99 N/A
Rock Bass Trap net 5.58 0.6 - 2.5 0.28 0.2 - 0.5
Gill net 0.89 0.3 - 2.0 0.36 0.3 - 0.5
Smallmouth Bass Trap net 0.42 0.1 - 0.4 0.88 0.1 - 0.6
Gill net 1.89 0.2 - 1.0 1.93 0.7 - 1.9
Tullibee (cisco) Gill net 0.22 0.7 - 6.5 2.24 0.6 - 1.6
Walleye Trap net 0.08 0.2 - 0.7 1.52 0.9 - 2.9
Gill net 3.78 1.3 - 5.5 1.27 1.2 - 2.4
White Sucker Gill net 2.44 0.5 - 3.5 3.04 1.6 - 2.4
Yellow Perch Gill net 0.67 2.5 - 24.2 0.36 0.1 - 0.2
Normal Ranges represent typical catches for lakes with similar physical and chemical characteristics.

Length of Selected Species (Trapnet, Gillnet) Sampled for the 2012 Survey Year

Species Number of fish caught in each category (inches)
0-5 6-8 9-11 12-14 15-19 20-24 25-29 30+ Total
bluegill 0 3 2 0 0 0 0 0 5
burbot 0 0 0 0 7 10 0 0 17
largemouth bass 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 1
northern pike 0 0 1 3 12 10 5 2 33
rainbow trout 0 0 0 52 1 0 0 0 54
rock bass 14 53 7 0 0 0 0 0 75
smallmouth bass 1 1 1 13 6 0 0 0 22
tullibee (cisco) 0 0 0 1 1 0 0 0 2
walleye 0 0 3 12 17 2 0 0 35
white sucker 0 0 0 0 15 7 0 0 22
yellow perch 2 1 3 0 0 0 0 0 6

For the record, the largest Lake Whitefish taken in Minnesota weighed 12 lbs., 4.5 oz. and was caught:

    Where: Leech Lake near Walker
    When: 3/21/99.
    Statistics: 28.5" length, 20" girth

Fish Stocking Activity

Fish Stocked by Species for the Last Ten Years

Year Species Size Number Pounds
2014 rainbow trout yearlings 16,000 8,407.8
  walleye fingerlings 7,016 698.0
2013 Rainbow Trout yearlings 16,000 7,567.0
2012 Rainbow Trout yearlings 16,000 6,345.5
  Walleye yearlings 17,918 578.0
2011 Rainbow Trout yearlings 16,000 7,712.7
2010 Rainbow Trout adults 250 93.6
  Rainbow Trout yearlings 15,542 8,241.8
  Walleye fingerlings 12,280 578.0
2009 Rainbow Trout yearlings 15,780 7,875.7
2008 Rainbow Trout yearlings 16,000 8,311.7
  Walleye fingerlings 15,908 578.0
2007 Rainbow Trout yearlings 15,600 8,415.2
2006 Rainbow Trout yearlings 16,000 9,034.5
  Walleye fingerlings 21,150 578.0

Stocking Notes
1 - indicates fish purchased and stocked by private citizens and sporting groups.
2 - indicates fish purchased by the DNR for stocking.

Stocking Fish Sizes
Fry - Newly hatched fish that are ready to be stocked usually called "swim-ups". Walleye fry are 1/3 of an inch or around 8 mm.
Fingerling - Fingerlings are one to six months old and can range from a size of one to twelve inches depending on the species. Walleye fingerlings range from three to eight inches each fall.
Yearling - Yearling fish are at least one year old. A one-year-old fish can range from three to twenty inches depending on the species. Walleye yearlings average from six to twelve inches.
Adult - Adult fish are fish that have reached maturity. Depending on the species, maturity can be reached at two years of age. Walleye reach maturity between the ages of four and six years.

Fish Consumption Guidelines

These fish consumption guidelines help people make choices about which fish to eat and how often. Following the guidelines enables people to reduce their exposure to contaminants while still enjoying the many benefits from fish.

Pregnant Women, Women who may become pregnant and Children under age 15

County, DOWID
Species Meal Advice Contaminants
Unrestricted 1 meal/week 1 meal/month Do not eat
Becker Co., 03008500
Northern Pike   All sizes     Mercury
Rainbow Trout All sizes        
Rock Bass   All sizes     Mercury
Walleye     All sizes   Mercury
White Sucker     All sizes   Mercury
Yellow Perch   All sizes     Mercury

General Population

County, DOWID
Species Meal Advice Contaminants
Unrestricted 1 meal/week 1 meal/month Do not eat
Becker Co., 03008500
Rainbow Trout All sizes        
Rock Bass All sizes        
Walleye   All sizes     Mercury
White Sucker   All sizes     Mercury
Yellow Perch   All sizes     Mercury

DOWID - MN DNR, Division of Waters' lake ID number.

Contaminants listed were measured at levels that trigger advice to limit consumption.

Listing of consumption guidelines do not imply the fish are legal to keep, MN DNR fishing regulations should be consulted.

PCBS - Polychlorinated biphenyls
PFOS - Perfluorooctane sulfanate

Status of the Fishery (as of 06/25/2012)

Bad Medicine is a four mile long, narrow, 800-acre, 84 foot deep, clear water lake located in northeastern Becker County and within the White Earth Indian Reservation. The lake has steep slopes near shore and 36% littoral area. The surrounding watershed (1,185 acres) is almost entirely covered by mixed hardwood and conifer forest. Although the lake lies within the Mississippi River drainage, it has no outlet and is primarily groundwater fed. Historical water clarity records from the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) show a mean secchi disk reading just over 23 ft for Bad Medicine. This oligotrophic lake has a trophic state index in the lower thirties. Dissolved oxygen levels and cool-water areas within and below the thermocline are sufficient to support a two-story fishery. A state-owned public access is located on the north shore off MN 113. This scenic lake has experienced increasing shoreline development and 162 homes or cabins were counted around the shoreline in 2006, compared to 126 in 1996 and 16 in 1950. A few of those present in the late 1990's were flooded by high water and abandoned or removed.

This lake has experienced dramatic changes in its fish habitat and fish community in the last 35 years. Regarded as a bass/panfish lake in the 1950's and 1960's, the lake is now managed primarily for rainbow trout and walleye, although smallmouth bass have made a strong comeback in recent years.

Changes to the lake have come about primarily as a result of two natural events along with fish stocking and shoreline development. First, in the late 1960's, the lake's aquatic vegetation was virtually eliminated by a population explosion of native crayfish. Without nesting and cover habitat, bass and sunfish populations were not able to sustain their abundances. Rainbow trout were introduced in 1977 in an attempt to control crayfish. During the 1990's, increased precipitation led to rising water levels in this groundwater influenced lake. Rising water not only flooded some lakeshore homes, it made additional areas available for northern pike spawning.

Even though northern pike are not considered abundant in Bad Medicine, net catches have increased since water levels have risen. Pike not only grow relatively fast but also have the potential to grow large in the cool, well-oxygenated waters of this lake. The presence of nutritious forage fishes like cisco and rainbow trout add to that potential. Young pike (age two) dominated the population in 2012. This accounts for the mean pike length of 21.6 inches.

Rainbow trout are stocked annually as yearlings. Trout angling has become extremely popular on this lake since they were introduced. A study in the 1980's showed that, due to heavy angling pressure, very few trout survived to a second year in the lake and that stocked fish less than eight inches long were particularly vulnerable to natural mortality (probably pike predation). Consequently, trout stocking size was increased to larger yearlings. Also in 1998, in attempt to provide some larger trout to anglers, one fourth of the annual trout stocking complement of 16,000 rainbow trout was switched from spring stocked Madison strain yearlings to late fall stocked Kamloops strain yearlings. With the closed winter season, fall stocked fish have time to grow before the angling season opens. No creel survey has been done since 1998, but, several anglers have reported catching more trout weighing over two pounds since the change. However, trout sampled in June 2012 were all yearlings averaging 13.4 inches in length.

Walleyes are also a popular angling target in Bad Medicine. There is little natural reproduction of walleyes in the lake and the population is generally maintained by stocking. Bad Medicine's fingerling stocking rate was increased to approximately 1.6 pounds per littoral acre in 2000 and to 2.0 pounds in 2006. Fingerling stocking occurs biennially. Walleye fry have not been stocked since the mid 1970's. No evaluation of fry stocking success was made at that time. Good survival of walleye fingerlings stocked in 2002, 2003, and 2004 resulted in the historic high test net catches in 2006. Due to the large proportion of young fish, the average walleye length in 2006 was 13.5 inches. Walleyes sampled in 2012 averaged 15.3 inches and 1.2 pounds, but were less abundant at 3.8 fish per net. Walleyes are known to grow large in this lake. A 17 lb. 3 oz. fish was caught during the summer of 1993.

The yellow perch forage base has declined markedly since 2001. Perch catches in Bad Medicine dropped to a new historic low of 0.7 per net in 2012. Walleye growth rates appear to have slowed as a result. The increasing smallmouth bass population may be impacting perch numbers and possibly walleye numbers and growth, as well. There is a chance that smallmouth bass may be impacting crayfish abundance, too, as crayfish catch rates were down about 65% in 2012 compared to 2006.

DNR scuba divers reported seeing all sizes of smallmouth bass in 2005 and in 2006 smallmouth bass were caught in test nets for the first time since 1961. Gill net catches increased from 0.7 smallmouth bass per set in 2006 to 1.89 per set in 2012. An additional 17 smallmouth bass were sampled by spring electrofishing. The average overall length of those sampled in 2012 was 13.4 inches.

This scenic lake is still going through a major transitional period. The loss of vegetation, large swings in the abundances of various fishes, initiation of trout stocking, expansion of walleye stocking, increasing smallmouth bass population, increased shoreline development, and fluctuating water levels will continue to affect the evolution of the lake and its fish community for some time to come. Following shoreline best management practices is particularly important in groundwater controlled lakes like Bad Medicine. Nutrients that enter the lake essentially stay in the lake, adding to the lake's fertility and the aging process. Buffer zones of natural vegetation, well maintained septic systems, and other good stewarship methods can help to sustain the lake's water quality, fish populations, and property values. The Bad Medicine Lake Association and Bad Medicine Lake Foundation have proposed research grants via the MPCA to study various relationships of water quality indicators and subsequent protection of water quality in this land-locked, oligotrophic lake.

For more information on this lake, contact:

Area Fisheries Supervisor
14583 Cty Hwy 19
Detroit Lakes, MN 56501-7121
Phone: (218) 846-8280
Internet: Detroit Lakes Fisheries

Lake maps can be obtained from:

Minnesota Bookstore
660 Olive Street
St. Paul, MN 55155
(651) 297-3000 or (800) 657-3757
To order, use B0403 for the map-id.

For general DNR Information, contact:

DNR Information Center
500 Lafayette Road
St. Paul, MN 55155-4040
TDD: (651) 296-6157 or (888) MINNDNR

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