Lake information report

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Name: Cotton

Nearest Town: Rochert
Primary County: Becker
Survey Date: 07/17/2006
Inventory Number: 03028600
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Public Access Information

Ownership Type Description
Fish and Wildlife Service Concrete Northeast shore of lake (Tamarack National Wildlife Refuge).


Lake Characteristics

Lake Area (acres): 1783.07
Littoral Area (acres): 781
Maximum Depth (ft): 28
Water Clarity (ft): 10

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


Did you know? Fishing piers are installed on lakes to provide opportunities for shore fishing.

Fish Sampled for the 2006 Survey Year

Species

Gear Used

Number of fish per net

Average Fish Weight (lbs)

Normal Range (lbs)

Caught

Normal Range

Black Bullhead Trap net 0.07 0.3 - 2.6 0.75 0.5 - 0.9
Gill net 0.27 0.6 - 6.8 0.65 0.5 - 1.0
Black Crappie Trap net 0.93 0.4 - 2.3 0.34 0.3 - 0.6
Gill net 0.47 0.4 - 2.7 0.53 0.3 - 0.6
Bluegill Trap net 81.33 4.4 - 49.0 0.18 0.1 - 0.2
Gill net 18.00 N/A 0.13 N/A
Brown Bullhead Trap net 0.87 0.3 - 1.6 0.78 0.7 - 1.1
Gill net 0.80 0.3 - 1.8 0.73 0.7 - 1.2
Green Sunfish Trap net 0.07 0.2 - 1.0 0.02 0.1 - 0.2
Hybrid Sunfish Trap net 10.80 N/A 0.21 N/A
Gill net 0.67 N/A 0.14 N/A
Largemouth Bass Trap net 1.47 0.3 - 1.3 0.72 0.2 - 0.8
Gill net 2.60 0.3 - 1.4 1.13 0.5 - 1.2
Northern Pike Trap net 0.60 N/A 1.29 N/A
Gill net 10.00 2.8 - 9.0 1.28 1.6 - 2.8
Pumpkinseed Trap net 4.87 1.8 - 7.8 0.17 0.1 - 0.3
Gill net 7.00 N/A 0.17 N/A
Rock Bass Trap net 0.93 0.5 - 2.5 0.28 0.3 - 0.5
Gill net 2.13 0.6 - 3.9 0.43 0.3 - 0.5
Tullibee (cisco) Gill net 3.40 0.8 - 6.2 0.87 0.6 - 1.4
Walleye Trap net 0.67 0.2 - 0.8 2.34 1.0 - 2.7
Gill net 9.60 3.3 - 8.8 1.14 1.2 - 2.1
White Sucker Trap net 0.27 0.2 - 1.1 2.34 1.8 - 3.0
Gill net 1.60 0.9 - 4.0 2.50 1.6 - 2.4
Yellow Bullhead Trap net 1.33 1.2 - 5.2 0.72 0.6 - 0.9
Gill net 5.47 1.2 - 10.9 0.68 0.6 - 0.9
Yellow Perch Trap net 0.53 0.6 - 3.5 0.21 0.1 - 0.2
Gill net 13.93 7.0 - 46.3 0.15 0.1 - 0.2
Normal Ranges represent typical catches for lakes with similar physical and chemical characteristics.


Length of Selected Species Sampled for the 2006 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
black bullhead 0 1 4 0 0 0 0 0 5
black crappie 0 9 12 0 0 0 0 0 21
bluegill 666 820 0 0 0 0 0 0 1490
brown bullhead 0 1 15 9 0 0 0 0 25
green sunfish 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1
hybrid sunfish 68 104 0 0 0 0 0 0 172
largemouth bass 8 3 26 16 8 0 0 0 61
northern pike 0 0 13 34 79 15 16 2 159
pumpkinseed 107 71 0 0 0 0 0 0 178
rock bass 9 28 9 0 0 0 0 0 46
tullibee (cisco) 0 16 3 18 14 0 0 0 51
walleye 0 15 27 50 49 8 4 1 154
white sucker 0 0 0 2 24 2 0 0 28
yellow bullhead 0 6 87 9 0 0 0 0 102
yellow perch 62 141 10 0 0 0 0 0 217


For the record, the largest Tullibee taken in Minnesota weighed 5 lbs., 11.8 oz. and was caught:

    Where: Little Long Lake, St. Louis County
    When: 4/16/02
    Statistics: 20.45" length, 16.4" girth

Fish Stocking Activity

Fish Stocked by Species for the Last Ten Years

Year Species Size Number Pounds
2013 Walleye fingerlings 47,372 1,712.0
2011 Walleye fingerlings 38,773 1,718.0
2009 Walleye* fingerlings 7,330 546.0
  Walleye fingerlings 16,651 1,016.0
2007 Walleye fingerlings 20,110 1,562.0
2005 Walleye fingerlings 13,079 784.0

Privately Stocked Fish
* indicates privately stocked fish. Private stocking includes fish purchased by the DNR for stocking and fish purchased and stocked by private citizens and sporting groups.

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 guidelin es 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

LAKE NAME
County, DOWID
Species Meal Advice Contaminants
Unrestricted 1 meal/week 1 meal/month Do not eat
COTTON
Becker Co., 03028600
Bluegill Sunfish   All sizes     Mercury
Crappie   All sizes     Mercury
Northern Pike     All sizes   Mercury
Walleye   All sizes     Mercury
White Sucker All sizes        

General Population

LAKE NAME
County, DOWID
Species Meal Advice Contaminants
Unrestricted 1 meal/week 1 meal/month Do not eat
COTTON
Becker Co., 03028600
Bluegill Sunfish All sizes        
Crappie All sizes        
Northern Pike   All sizes     Mercury
Walleye   All sizes     Mercury
White Sucker All sizes        

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.

Dioxin
Mercury
PCBS - Polychlorinated biphenyls
PFOS - Perfluorooctane sulfanate


Status of the Fishery (as of 07/17/2006)

Cotton Lake has a diverse fish community that includes not only warmwater species like bullhead, bluegill, black crappie, largemouth bass, northern pike, and walleye, but also coldwater species like cisco (tullibee). Tullibees and other coldwater species require cool, well-oxygenated refuge areas during the heat of summer and reasonably good water quality. Significant declines in catch rates of these species can signal problems with water quality. Fortunately, this has not yet occurred in Cotton. Net catches of cisco in 2006 were at their historic high for this lake at 3.4 fish per net.

A special regulation for northern pike has been in effect on Cotton Lake since 2003. This regulation requires anglers to immediately release all pike between 24 and 36 inches in length. Although population changes are not always easy to detect after just three years of a regulation, there are some indicators that the regulation is having an impact on the size structure of northern pike in this lake. For example, the average length of sampled pike was longer in 2006 (17.6 inches) than in any of the seven previous studies since 1956. Another measure used to define size structure is the proportional stock density (PSD). For pike, this is the percent of stock (sexually mature) fish at least 21 inches in length. In Cotton Lake in 2006, the northern pike PSD was 24%, which was the second highest in history and nearly double that reported in 2001. The historic high PSD is 50% and the lake's historic mean is just 17%. Hopefully, these pike will grow to trophy sizes in the future and opportunities will exist to catch fish over 30, or even 36 inches. With the presence of cisco, this lake has the potential to produce large pike.

Walleyes are stocked regularly. Natural reproduction of this species appears to be very limited in this lake but some small amount occurs. In 2006, catches were similar to those in the most recent previous survey at 9.6 walleyes per set. Cotton Lake's historic average walleye catch rate is 7.8 fish per set. The mean walleye size was 14.5 inches in length and 1.1 pounds in weight.

Largemouth bass and and black crappie catch rates were slightly higher than the lake's historic averages. In the first two lake studies (1956 and 1973), over 27% of sampled bluegills were larger than eight inches in length. In 2006, the average length of sampled bluegills was 6.0 inches and none over 8.0 inches were found. Bluegills also appear to be more abundant and slower growing than they were at the time of the first two lake surveys.

There are likely many reasons for changes in fish populations over time. In several Minnesota lakes, declines in yellow perch numbers have been accompanied by increases in bluegill numbers along with a shrinking bluegill size structure. Yellow perch were abundant during the first two Cotton Lake studies, at the same time bluegills were less abundant and larger than at present. It is also clear that in many Minnesota lakes bluegills and other fish species are being harvested before they have a chance to grow to sizes preferred by most anglers. It appears this is the case in Cotton Lake, as well, with most bluegills being "cropped off" about the time they reach seven inches in length.

Fish populations in any lake are reflections of their habitat and watershed. Cotton Lake's shoreline is heavily developed and the lake is vulnerable to cultural eutrophication (aging). Unchecked development of the watershed could tip the balance toward smelly algal blooms and a fish community dominated by black bullhead. Obviously, this has not yet happened in Cotton Lake, but continued vigilance is necessary to slow the lake's aging process. Individuals from Cotton Lake help monitor changes by participating in the Pollution Control Agency's Citizen Lake Monitoring Program. Other ways that landowners can help to maintain property values, water quality, and fish populations include (1) exceeding shoreline setbacks for buildings and septic systems, (2) not fertilizing lawns, (3) leaving wide shoreline buffer zones of unmowed, natural vegetation, (4) leaving as much aquatic vegetation (especially emergents like bulrushes and cattails) intact as possible when obtaining access to open water, and (5) following practices illustrated in the DNR document "Lakescaping for Wildlife and Water Quality" when landscaping shoreline property. In addition, anglers can help sustain fish populations by voluntarily reducing their harvest of medium and large size fish and by complying with special fishing regulations. Anglers are also encouraged to harvest small pike (those under 24 inches) to help balance the population.


For more information on this lake, contact:

Area Fisheries Supervisor
14583 Cty Hwy 19
Detroit Lakes, MN 56501-7121
Phone: (218) 846-8340
Internet: Detroit Lakes Fisheries
E-Mail: DetroitLakes.Fisheries@state.mn.us

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 B0535,C0014 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
Internet: www.dnr.state.mn.us
E-Mail: info.dnr@state.mn.us

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