Fisheries Lake Survey

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Name: Kemo

Nearest Town: Grand Marais
Primary County: Cook
Survey Date: 07/23/2012
Inventory Number: 16018800

Public Access Information

Ownership Type Description
US Forest Service Carry-In Long trail to SE tip of lake from USFS 1365.
US Forest Service Portage 430-ft portage down steep hill from Talus Lake
US Forest Service Portage 0.22-mile portage trail from Pine (Trestle-Pine) Lake.

Lake Characteristics

Lake Area (acres): 189.08
Littoral Area (acres): 16.2
Maximum Depth (ft): 65
Water Clarity (ft): 12.4 (9.5-17.6)

Dominant Bottom Substrate: Rubble (Abundant)
Abundance of Aquatic Plants: 8 Varieties Sampled
Maximum Depth of Plant Growth (ft): 0

Did you know? Ongoing habitat improvement and maintenance work is conducted on trout streams that have publicly owned land or easements.

Fish Sampled for the 2012 Survey Year


Gear Used

Number of fish per net

Average Fish Weight (lbs)

Normal Range (lbs)


Normal Range

Lake Trout Gill net 5.50 0.4 - 3.7 0.86 1.5 - 4.0
Splake Gill net 0.33 N/A 0.20 N/A
White Sucker Gill net 5.33 0.8 - 5.3 0.34 1.1 - 2.5
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
lake trout 0 5 11 9 5 3 0 0 33
splake 0 1 1 0 0 0 0 0 2
white sucker 0 11 18 3 0 0 0 0 32

For the record, the largest Bigmouth Buffalo taken in Minnesota weighed 41 lbs., 11 oz. and was caught:

    Where: Mississippi River, Goodhue County
    When: 5/7/91
    Statistics: 38.5" length, 29.5" girth

Fish Stocking Activity

Fish Stocked by Species for the Last Ten Years

Year Species Size Number Pounds
2013 Lake Trout fingerlings 7,120 185.0
2009 Lake Trout fingerlings 3,591 107.1
  Lake Trout fingerlings 3,585 142.0
2007 Lake Trout fingerlings 3,604 109.3
  Lake Trout fingerlings 3,604 99.9

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
Cook Co., 16018800
Lake Trout   All sizes     Mercury
Splake   All sizes     Mercury

General Population

County, DOWID
Species Meal Advice Contaminants
Unrestricted 1 meal/week 1 meal/month Do not eat
Cook Co., 16018800
Lake Trout All sizes        
Splake 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 07/23/2012)

Kemo Lake is managed primarily for lake trout, and has been regularly stocked with lake trout since 1967. The long range goal for the species in the current (2009) lake management is to maintain a population with a minimum gill net catch of 4.0 fish/set, with some fish over 20 inches present. There has been significant natural reproduction of lake trout in this lake, and this was the first of two surveys scheduled in the 2009 plan to help determine whether continued lake trout stocking was necessary.

Lake trout were abundant, but smaller than usual in Kemo Lake in 2012. However, the 2012 lake trout gill net catch met the long range goal for the species, and a few fish larger than 20 inches were present. The catch was similar to past catches observed in this lake, and exceeded the normal range for a lake of this type. The mean weight for lake trout taken in gill nets was one of the lower means seen in this lake historically, and fell below the normal range. The low mean weight was due largely to the dominance of a strong 2009 year class. Fish from that age class had a mean length at capture of just 11.6 inches. Several year classes contributed to the 2012 catch, including several that had been produced entirely naturally, and three that had been supplemented by stocking. Stocked (fin clipped) lake trout accounted for 33% of the 2012 catch. They accounted for half of the fish taken in the strong 2009 year class, two of the three five-year-old fish taken, and two of the seven seven-year-old fish collected.

Lake trout growth had been slow. Seven-year-old lake trout reached an average length of 14.0 inches at the end of their seventh year, compared to an area average of 19.6 inches in lakes of this type.

Splake collected in Kemo Lake in 2012 had entered the lake from Pine Lake, where they have been regularly stocked. Splake have often been taken in recent assessments of Kemo Lake. While they provide a bonus for anglers fishing the lake, their presence also indicates that the lake is vulnerable to infestation by any exotic or undesirable fish species that becomes established in Pine Lake. Pine Lake is accessible by road, and already supports an expanding bluegill population. Walleye and smallmouth bass have been found in Pine Lake, although neither species appears to have become established there yet.

The white sucker gill net catch (deep and shallow sets combined) exceeded the third quartile for the lake class, but was similar to past catches seen in this lake. Although white sucker might compete with lake trout for invertebrate forage, the two species seem to coexist with few problems in many of the area's native lake trout lakes. Many of the white sucker taken in this assessment were small enough to have served as prey for the larger lake trout present.

Kemo Lake provided suitable conditions for lake trout (temperature < 55 F, oxygen > 5 ppm) at depths of about 24 to 45 ft in late July 2012. Although conditions probably deteriorated further as the summer progressed, it seemed likely that some suitable habitat would have persisted through the summer. Kemo Lake's status as a low-productivity lake was confirmed by laboratory analysis results that measured low levels of total phosphorus (0.008 ppm), total dissolved solids (64 ppm), and chlorophyll a (5.2 ppb). Low productivity allows Kemo Lake to maintain adequate oxygen through the summer in the deep cold waters required to support lake trout.

For more information on this lake, contact:

Area Fisheries Supervisor
1356 Hwy 61 E
Grand Marais, MN 55604
Phone: (218) 387-3056
Internet: Grand Marais 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 C0291 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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