Fisheries Lake Survey

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Name: Leech

Nearest Town: Walker
Primary County: Cass
Survey Date: 10/01/2014
Inventory Number: 11020300
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Public Access Information

Ownership Type Description
Corps of Engineers Concrete
DNR Concrete
DNR Asphalt MN Dot Access - Shingobee Bay
City Concrete Walker City Park
DNR Concrete Erickson Landing
DNR Earthen Brevik
DNR Concrete Point View
Corps of Engineers Concrete Federal Dam
DNR Concrete Whipholt
US Forest Service Concrete Stony Point

Fishing Regulations:

Special and/or Experimental Fishing Regulations exist on this lake. Please refer to our online Minnesota Fishing Regulations.

Lake Characteristics

Lake Area (acres): 110311.44
Littoral Area (acres): 57994
Maximum Depth (ft): 150
Water Clarity (ft): 8.8 (5.5-11.5)

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

Did you know? Minnesota waters support 153 species of fish.

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 0.42 0.1 - 0.7 0.63 0.2 - 0.5
Bluegill Gill net 0.06 N/A 0.17 N/A
Bowfin (dogfish) Gill net 0.06 0.0 - 0.1 4.14 3.0 - 4.3
Brown Bullhead Gill net 0.14 0.1 - 0.6 1.28 0.6 - 1.2
Burbot Gill net 0.11 0.0 - 0.2 1.47 1.1 - 2.1
Muskellunge Gill net 0.06 0.0 - 0.1 3.46 3.3 - 8.0
Northern Pike Gill net 4.58 0.9 - 4.3 2.15 2.4 - 4.3
Pumpkinseed Gill net 0.28 N/A 0.15 N/A
Rock Bass Gill net 0.75 0.1 - 1.1 0.49 0.3 - 0.6
Tadpole Madtom Gill net 0.11 N/A 0.01 N/A
Tullibee (cisco) Gill net 4.00 4.9 - 17.6 1.34 0.4 - 0.5
Walleye Gill net 8.94 3.3 - 14.8 1.60 0.9 - 1.5
White Sucker Gill net 1.06 0.8 - 2.4 1.59 1.6 - 2.1
Yellow Bullhead Gill net 0.36 0.1 - 1.1 0.81 0.6 - 1.1
Yellow Perch Gill net 13.92 9.9 - 57.1 0.16 0.2 - 0.3
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 6 8 1 0 0 0 0 15
bluegill 1 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 2
bowfin (dogfish) 0 0 0 0 0 2 0 0 2
brown bullhead 0 0 0 5 0 0 0 0 5
burbot 0 0 0 1 2 1 0 0 4
muskellunge 0 0 0 0 0 0 2 0 2
northern pike 0 0 1 12 60 71 14 7 165
pumpkinseed 8 2 0 0 0 0 0 0 10
rock bass 6 11 10 0 0 0 0 0 27
tadpole madtom 4 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 4
tullibee (cisco) 0 19 13 28 84 0 0 0 144
walleye 0 17 61 58 126 56 4 0 322
white sucker 0 4 6 7 21 0 0 0 38
yellow bullhead 0 1 9 3 0 0 0 0 13
yellow perch 201 256 44 0 0 0 0 0 501

For the record, the largest Muskellunge taken in Minnesota weighed 54 lbs. and was caught:

    Where: Lake Winnibigoshish, Itasca County
    When: 1957
    Statistics: 56" length, 27.8" girth

Fish Stocking Activity

Fish Stocked by Species for the Last Ten Years

Year Species Size Number Pounds
2014 lake whitefish fry 140,000 3.1
  lake whitefish fingerlings 61,360 967.0
  walleye fry 7,500,480 63.6
2013 Muskellunge fingerlings 620 67.0
  Walleye fry 7,555,032 63.0
2012 Walleye fry 7,501,632 62.0
2011 Walleye fry 22,021,332 188.0
2010 Walleye fry 22,501,356 176.5
2009 Lake Whitefish fry 540,000 10.8
  Lake Whitefish fingerlings 32,022 416.0
  Lake Whitefish fingerlings 30,970 279.9
  Muskellunge fingerlings 599 89.7
  Walleye fry 22,669,368 187.2
2008 Lake Whitefish fry 28,500 0.6
  Lake Whitefish fingerlings 35,716 487.6
  Lake Whitefish fingerlings 37,097 408.4
  Walleye fry 22,166,808 184.6
2007 Lake Whitefish fingerlings 50,696 556.7
  Walleye fry 7,523,670 56.6
2006 Lake Whitefish fingerlings 46,474 619.7
  Walleye 206,084 130.6
  Walleye fry 22,032,452 217.3
2005 Lake Whitefish fingerlings 75,095 941.8
  Lake Whitefish fry 114,000 2.3
  Muskellunge fingerlings 127 25.0
  Muskellunge fingerlings 386 101.6
  Walleye fry 7,562,115 55.1

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 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

County, DOWID
Species Meal Advice Contaminants
Unrestricted 1 meal/week 1 meal/month Do not eat
Cass Co., 11020300
Bluegill Sunfish All sizes        
Cisco   All sizes     Mercury
Crappie All sizes        
Lake Whitefish All sizes        
Northern Pike     All sizes   Mercury
Walleye     All sizes   Mercury
White Sucker All sizes        
Yellow Perch   All sizes     Mercury

General Population

County, DOWID
Species Meal Advice Contaminants
Unrestricted 1 meal/week 1 meal/month Do not eat
Cass Co., 11020300
Bluegill Sunfish All sizes        
Cisco All sizes        
Crappie All sizes        
Lake Whitefish 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 10/01/2014)

Leech Lake is the third largest lake entirely within the boundaries of Minnesota and has approximately 112,000 surface acres. The lake is geographically located in three glacial zones and has an irregular shape with many large and small bays. The deepest area of the lake is located in Walker Bay where depths reach around 150 feet deep. Approximately 80% of the lake is less than 35 feet deep. Similar to other large lakes in Minnesota, the fish community is dominated by species in the perch and pike families. Walleye, northern pike, and muskellunge are the primary predator species, while yellow perch and cisco serve as the principal forage. Leech Lake is well known among anglers as a tremendous multi-species fishery, including excellent fishing opportunities for walleye, yellow perch, northern pike, muskellunge, largemouth bass, sunfish, and black crappie.

Leech Lake has been surveyed annually with standardized assessments since 1983. Establishment of long-term data sets on Leech Lake and Minnesota's other large walleye lakes allow biologists to compare current observations against historical averages. These long-term data sets can also provide insight into other lakes having similar physical and biological properties that are not sampled as frequently. Population metrics for a particular species, such as the highs and lows in gill net catch rates or the growth rates of fish, are constantly changing as they move from one extreme of their observed normal range to the other, much like a pendulum. While highs and lows are normal and rarely sustained past one year, consecutive observations at either extreme can be indicative of changes to an ecosystem. These may include exotic species introductions, shifts in habitat availability and/or quality, beneficial or adverse environmental conditions, and increased or decreased competition for resources between species or among different year classes of the same species. Regardless, it is important to remember that all populations of flora and fauna fluctuate dramatically and that this natural variability is strongly influenced by the changing environment in which they live as well as the other species of plants and animals they share it with.

The MN DNR convened a citizen input committee (Leech Lake Advisory Committee; LLAC) comprised of stakeholders representing local and statewide interests in Leech Lake management. This group outlined walleye population management objectives and actions, including double-crested cormorant control, the walleye regulation, and walleye fry stocking (LLAC 2010). These recommendations were incorporated into DNR's Leech Lake Management Plan, 2011-2015. These management goals, where appropriate, are referenced in this report.

Effective May 10, 2014 all walleye between 20.0-26.0 inches long must be immediately returned to the water, a possession limit of 4 walleye with one longer than 26.0" allowed in possession. This regulation is intended to provide additional harvest opportunity while still protecting most of the mature female walleye in the population, and received majority support from the public comment period held during fall 2013.

Aquatic invasive species currently found in Leech Lake include rusty crayfish, heterosporosis, curly-leaf pondweed, Eurasian watermilfoil, purple loosestrife, and banded mystery snail. Eurasian watermilfoil is beginning to establish in open-water areas of the lake. Other aquatic invasive species such as zebra mussels and spiny waterflea are increasing in prevalence throughout Minnesota and pose a likely risk. Anglers and boaters alike are encouraged to review and adhere to rules requiring proper bait disposal, draining all water from bait containers, livewells, bilge, and the watercraft, and properly inspecting and removing all plants and animals from the watercraft, anchor, and trailer when leaving a lake. Information on invasive species issues and prevention can be found at

Walleye: Since the Large Lake Program began in 1983, walleye gillnet catch rates have ranged from 4.6 fish/net (1993) to 13.4 fish/net (1988). The 2014 catch of walleye per gillnet set was 8.9 fish/net and remained above the 1983-2014 average of 7.8 fish/net. Walleye sampled in gillnets ranged in length from 6 to 26 inches. The average lengths of age-1 through age-4 walleye were 9.5, 12.5, 15.6, and 17.5 inches, respectively. Good 2010 through 2012 year-classes will provide harvest opportunities on the 2015 opener and continue to be available throughout the next several seasons. Additionally, 19% of walleye sampled in gillnets were 20-26" and will provide anglers the opportunity to catch a larger fish. The proportion of protected fish sampled in gillnets closely resembles the proportion of protected fish caught by anglers. Based on the return of the walleye population to its pre-2000 status, the population is fully recovered.

Northern Pike: The 2014 gillnet catch rate of northern pike was 4.6 fish/net. Northern pike gillnet catch rates have remained relatively stable since 1983, ranging from 3.6 fish/net (1993) to 6.2 fish/net (1995) with an average of 4.8 fish/net. Northern pike captured in 2014 gillnet sets ranged in length from 11 to 35 inches.

Muskellunge: Only two muskellunge were sampled in gillnet sets during 2014. Muskellunge are typically low in abundance and exceed sizes effectively sampled with gillnets. Muskellunge eggs were collected in 2013 for the statewide muskellunge stocking program and fish up to 53 inches long were captured.

Yellow Perch: Gillnet catch rates of yellow perch have ranged from 12.1 fish/net (2013) to 37.7 fish/net (1995). The 2014 catch rate of 13.9 fish/net was the third lowest observed since standardized sampling began in 1983. This compares to the 1983-2014 average of 21.1 fish/net. Yellow perch sampled in 2014 gillnet sets ranged in length from 3 to 12 inches. Of the total perch caught, 21% were 8 inches and longer and 4% were 10 inches and longer.

Cisco: The 2014 catch rate of cisco per gillnet set was 4.0 fish/net and was below the long-term average of 5.3 fish/net. Gillnet catch rates of cisco have varied considerably, ranging from 0.6 fish/net (2006) to 18.5 fish/net (1987). Warmer summers causing summer kills have probably been the source of cisco catch rates remaining below average since 1995, except in 2009. Age-2 through age-8 cisco had similar catch rates in 2014, indicating recruitment is occurring each year. Lengths of cisco sampled ranged from 7 to 18 inches.

Largemouth Bass: The next scheduled lakewide Centrarchid (bass/bluegill/crappie) survey is scheduled for spring 2015. The 2012 lakewide electrofishing catch rate of largemouth bass was 15.9 fish/hour. Largemouth bass sampled in 2012 ranged in length from 2 to 19 inches. Of all largemouth bass caught, 41% were 15 inches or longer. Anglers can find quality bass fishing opportunities in the sprawling beds of mixed vegetation in the major bays. Anglers also report occasional catches of smallmouth bass, which have always been present but in low numbers. Only one smallmouth bass was captured during the 2012 electrofishing survey. Only one smallmouth bass has been sampled in a gill net since standardized sampling began in 1983.

Bluegill: The 2012 lakewide electrofishing catch rate of bluegill was 33.1 fish/hour. Bluegill sampled in 2012 ranged in length from 1 to 10 inches. Of all bluegills caught, 27% were 8 inches or longer.

Black Crappie: The 2012 lakewide electrofishing catch rate of black crappie was 4.8 fish/hour. Black crappie sampled in 2012 ranged in length from 2 to 14 inches. Of all black crappie caught, 70% were 10 inches or longer.

For more information on this lake, contact:

Area Fisheries Supervisor
07316 State Hwy 371 NW
Walker, MN 56484
Phone: (218) 547-1683
Internet: Walker 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 B0050 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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