Fisheries Lake Survey

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Name: Cass

Nearest Town: Cass Lake
Primary County: Beltrami
Survey Date: 07/01/2014
Inventory Number: 04003000

Public Access Information

Ownership Type Description
DNR Concrete
US Forest Service Concrete
US Forest Service Concrete

Lake Characteristics

Lake Area (acres): 15958.32
Littoral Area (acres): 3119
Maximum Depth (ft): 120
Water Clarity (ft): N/A

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

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 2014 Survey Year


Gear Used

Number of fish per net

Average Fish Weight (lbs)

Normal Range (lbs)


Normal Range

Black Crappie Gill net 0.10 0.2 - 1.1 0.61 0.2 - 0.5
Bluegill Gill net 0.10 N/A 0.47 N/A
Lake Whitefish Gill net 0.60 0.1 - 0.9 2.49 1.0 - 3.0
Muskellunge Gill net 0.10 0.1 - 0.3 3.72 3.1 - 5.3
Northern Pike Gill net 4.75 3.0 - 7.9 2.53 1.7 - 2.8
Pumpkinseed Gill net 0.60 N/A 0.10 N/A
Redhorse Gill net 0.05 N/A 2.20 N/A
Rock Bass Gill net 2.45 1.0 - 6.6 0.37 0.3 - 0.5
Tullibee (cisco) Gill net 11.40 0.5 - 5.2 0.84 0.4 - 1.0
Walleye Gill net 11.15 4.0 - 9.6 1.06 1.1 - 1.9
White Sucker Gill net 3.10 1.0 - 3.5 1.61 1.5 - 2.3
Yellow Bullhead Gill net 0.90 0.6 - 6.4 0.73 0.6 - 0.9
Yellow Perch Gill net 34.15 7.1 - 33.9 0.15 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 2014 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 crappie 0 0 2 0 0 0 0 0 2
bluegill 1 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 2
lake whitefish 0 0 0 0 11 1 0 0 12
muskellunge 0 0 0 0 0 1 1 0 2
northern pike 0 0 0 0 15 65 12 3 95
pumpkinseed 10 2 0 0 0 0 0 0 12
redhorse 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 1
rock bass 16 22 11 0 0 0 0 0 49
tullibee (cisco) 0 43 39 127 19 0 0 0 228
walleye 0 15 49 71 71 17 0 0 223
white sucker 1 8 6 6 40 1 0 0 62
yellow bullhead 0 2 14 2 0 0 0 0 18
yellow perch 165 469 49 0 0 0 0 0 683

For the record, the largest Pumpkinseed taken in Minnesota weighed 1 lb., 5.6 oz. and was caught:

    Where: Leech Lake, Cass County
    When: 6/6/99
    Statistics: 10.1" length, 12 1/8" girth

Fish Stocking Activity

Fish Stocked by Species for the Last Ten Years

Year Species Size Number Pounds
2010 Walleye fry 1,001,170 8.3

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

Whitefish from this lake contain dioxin, a chemical that may cause cancer in humans. Meat and dairy products also contain dioxin. At this time, MDH does not provide meal advice based on dioxin in fish. Although mercury levels in whitefish are low, you can reduce your exposure to dioxin by choosing to eat a different species and following the consumption guidelines for that species.

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
Beltrami Co., 04003000
Cisco   All sizes     Mercury
Northern Pike   shorter than 24" 24" or longer   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
Beltrami Co., 04003000
Cisco All sizes        
Northern Pike   All sizes     Mercury
Walleye   All sizes     Mercury
White Sucker All sizes        
Yellow Perch 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.

PCBS - Polychlorinated biphenyls
PFOS - Perfluorooctane sulfanate

Status of the Fishery (as of 07/01/2014)

Background Cass Lake water levels are affected by the operation of two dams on the Mississippi River. Otter Tail Power Company operates a dam upstream, just below Stump Lake. At the Cass Lake outlet is Knutson Dam, owned and operated by the U.S. Forest Service. The U.S. Forest Service is currently in the process of a major modification of the outlet to convert from a gated dam to a fixed crest rock structure that will increase outlet capacity during high water events.

The Leech Lake Band of Chippewa Indians operates a commercial fishery for lake whitefish and cisco on the Cass Lake chain. A limited subsistence fishery for game species is also allowed for Band members.

A U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Superfund cleanup site exists on Pike Bay near the south side of Cass Lake. The EPA has placed a consumption advisory on lake whitefish from Cass Lake and Pike Bay due to elevated body burdens of dioxins in this species. There are currently no special fishing regulations in effect on Cass Lake. All species are managed under statewide regulations.

Summer 2015 will be the second year of our two-year creel survey. If you encounter a DNR creel clerk, please take just a few minutes to answer a few questions about your fishing success. Getting accurate information is vital to managing fish populations in the lake. Questions will range from when you started fishing, to what species you were targeting, and how many you kept/released. The clerk may also ask to measure your catch to provide information on the size of harvested fish which helps up understand which year classes are supporting the fishery, how many pounds of fish are being harvested, angler preferences, etc. Your cooperation would be much appreciated.

Present Fish Population Status The walleye population of Cass Lake is healthy and is comprised of good numbers of fish distributed among numerous size and age classes. The 2014 gill net catch rate was 11.2 fish per net, slightly below the long-term median catch rate (13.1 fish/net). Fish representing ages 0 to 12 were all represented except no 10-year-old fish were caught. Approximately two-thirds of the walleye sample consisted of age-1 fish (8 to 10 inches) and age-3 fish (13 to 15 inches) inches. The strong 2008 and 2011 year classes averaged 18.2 and 14.4 inches in length, respectively. These fish should provide good numbers of eater-sized fish. The catch rate for age-0 walleye (approximately 6 inches) during fall electrofishing was the typical, and coupled with the abundance of age-1 fish seen in the gill nets, the future of the Cass Lake walleye fishery is bright.

The gill net catch rate for yellow perch (34 per net) was below the long-term median (47 per net). There was a moderate number of fish over 8 inches in the sample (19%) with some fish approaching 12 inches in length. There is some evidence that quality of this population has decreased over the past 30 years, as indicated by an overall gradual decline in average fish size. However, the current size structure should provide ample angling opportunities and with a little bit of sorting, catches of nice-sized fish are still possible.

The 2014 northern pike catch rate of 4.8 fish per net was the highest ever observed and greater than the long-term median of 2.9 fish per gill net. This increased abundance is better-than-usual reproduction the past several years and with that comes an abundance of small fish (< 24 inches). However, there are still good numbers of quality-sized fish (26 to 32 inches) in the population and these fish represented 40% of the gill net sample.

For more information on this lake, contact:

Area Fisheries Supervisor
2114 Bemidji Ave
Bemidji, MN 56601
Phone: (218) 308-2339
Internet: Bemidji 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 B0041 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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    Toll-free: (800) 652-9093