Fisheries Lake Survey

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Name: Mountain

Nearest Town: Mountain Lake
Primary County: Cottonwood
Survey Date: 08/25/2014
Inventory Number: 17000300
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Public Access Information

Ownership Type Description
DNR Earthen
DNR Concrete

Lake Characteristics

Lake Area (acres): 219.79
Littoral Area (acres): 219.79
Maximum Depth (ft): 8
Water Clarity (ft): 4.2 (3.8-4.5)

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

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 2014 Survey Year


Gear Used

Number of fish per net

Average Fish Weight (lbs)

Normal Range (lbs)


Normal Range

Black Bullhead Trap net 0.33 11.5 - 132.6 0.36 0.2 - 0.4
Gill net 53.00 30.3 - 150.6 0.73 0.2 - 0.4
Black Crappie Trap net 0.67 1.2 - 20.5 0.03 0.2 - 0.5
Bluegill Trap net 11.67 1.2 - 20.0 0.28 0.1 - 0.4
Gill net 1.00 N/A 0.40 N/A
Common Carp Trap net 3.44 1.0 - 5.5 3.22 1.4 - 4.6
Gill net 9.00 1.0 - 13.8 3.35 0.8 - 3.7
Hybrid Sunfish Trap net 0.33 N/A 0.34 N/A
Largemouth Bass Trap net 0.22 0.2 - 0.7 3.47 0.3 - 1.5
Gill net 3.00 0.2 - 1.5 0.72 0.6 - 1.4
Northern Pike Trap net 0.11 N/A 8.05 N/A
Gill net 1.00 1.1 - 8.0 3.09 1.8 - 3.4
Pumpkinseed Trap net 2.44 0.3 - 4.9 0.17 0.1 - 0.2
Gill net 1.00 N/A 0.11 N/A
Walleye Trap net 0.56 0.5 - 3.0 2.32 0.8 - 2.3
Gill net 21.00 2.3 - 18.1 1.19 1.0 - 2.3
Yellow Bullhead Trap net 3.89 0.5 - 2.5 0.83 0.3 - 0.7
Gill net 29.00 0.5 - 3.5 0.63 0.3 - 0.7
Yellow Perch Trap net 2.56 0.3 - 3.8 0.07 0.1 - 0.3
Gill net 36.00 2.7 - 25.0 0.41 0.1 - 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 bullhead 3 14 28 11 0 0 0 0 56
black crappie 5 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 5
bluegill 48 58 0 0 0 0 0 0 106
common carp 0 1 0 0 37 2 0 0 40
hybrid sunfish 1 2 0 0 0 0 0 0 3
largemouth bass 0 0 3 0 0 1 0 0 4
northern pike 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 1 2
pumpkinseed 16 7 0 0 0 0 0 0 23
walleye 0 0 1 16 7 2 0 0 26
yellow bullhead 4 0 44 16 0 0 0 0 64
yellow perch 32 5 20 0 0 0 0 0 57

For the record, the largest Smallmouth Bass taken in Minnesota weighed 8 lbs. and was caught:

    Where: W. Battle Lake, Otter Tail County
    When: 1948

Fish Stocking Activity

Fish Stocked by Species for the Last Ten Years

Year Species Size Number Pounds
2014 walleye fingerlings 13,863 491.0
2012 Walleye adults 20 15.0
  Walleye fingerlings 3,865 413.8
  Walleye yearlings 1,280 64.0
2010 Walleye fingerlings 1,649 88.0
  Walleye yearlings 1,236 206.0
2008 Walleye fingerlings 6,858 254.0
2006 Walleye1 fingerlings 11,921 723.0

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
Cottonwood Co., 17000300
Bluegill Sunfish All sizes        
Bullhead All sizes        
Carp All sizes        
Northern Pike   All sizes     Mercury
Walleye   All sizes     Mercury

General Population

County, DOWID
Species Meal Advice Contaminants
Unrestricted 1 meal/week 1 meal/month Do not eat
Cottonwood Co., 17000300
Bluegill Sunfish All sizes        
Bullhead All sizes        
Carp All sizes        
Northern Pike   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 08/25/2014)

INTRODUCTION Mountain Lake is a 241-acre lake located within the City of Mountain Lake in Cottonwood County. The lake has a maximum depth of 7.0 feet, and has a watershed to lake ratio of 22 to 1. In the early 1990's, Mountain Lake had a diverse fish population. During the winter of 1993-94, the lake suffered a partial winterkill resulting in an increase in Common Carp and Black Bullhead abundance, which resulted in a decrease in aquatic vegetation. Because of the high abundance of undesirable fish, Mountain Lake was reclaimed during the fall of 1998, with the goal to restore desirable fish populations, re-establish aquatic vegetation, and improve water quality. Aquatic vegetation is abundant in Mountain Lake, to the extent that a vegetation harvester is operated by the City of Mountain Lake on an annual basis. Mountain Lake is managed primarily for Largemouth Bass and Bluegill, and secondarily for Yellow Perch, Walleye, Northern Pike, and Black Crappie. Walleye are the only species of fish that have been stocked in the last decade (2006, 2008, 2010, 2012, and 2014). A population assessment was conducted the week of August 25, 2014 to monitor fish populations using one gill net and nine trap nets.

LARGEMOUTH BASS Since the reclamation in 1998, Largemouth Bass abundance has varied from 33.3 per hour in 2004 to 228.0 per hour in 2000. In 2014, the catch rate of Largemouth Bass was 121.0 per hour which is the second highest catch rate recorded on Mountain Lake and an increase from 36.8 per hour observed in 2010. Lengths of Largemouth Bass ranged from 5.5 to 20.2 inches and averaged 8.9 inches. The majority (85 percent) of the bass sampled were 5.5 to 8.5 inches and are likely from the 2013 year class (age-1). Largemouth Bass were plump, indicating that forage is readily available in Mountain Lake. It appears that the Largemouth Bass population in Mountain Lake a stable, naturally reproducing population.

BLUEGILL The 2014 Bluegill catch rate of 11.7 per trap net is the lowest catch rate observed post-reclamation, but is within the expected range of catch rates for similar lakes (1.2 to 20.0 per trap net). Since the 1998 reclamation, catch rates have varied from 11.7 per trap net in 2014 to 172.2 per trap net in 2002. Bluegill ranged in length from 3.6 to 8.8 inches and averaged 6.3 inches. Bluegill were plump, indicating that prey is readily available in Mountain Lake. The Bluegill population is self-sustaining, as stocking has not occurred since the initial stocking after the reclamation in 1999. Bluegill successfully reproduced in 2014, with over 1,550 age-0 Bluegill being captured in a near shore survey conducted in early August. The Bluegill population should continue to be stable as long as recruitment remains consistent.

YELLOW PERCH Catch rates of Yellow Perch post reclamation have varied from 13.5 per gill net in 2002 to 71.0 per gill net in 2010. The 2014 catch rate was 36.0 per gill net, which exceeds the expected range of catch rates for similar lakes (2.7 to 25.0 per gill net). Generally speaking, catch rates of Yellow Perch were higher in years preceding the reclamation (averaged 70.9 per gill net in 1985, 1990, 1994, and 1997) than in the year after the reclamation (averaged 37.7 per gill net in 2002, 2004, 2010, and 2014). This is likely a result of cleaner water and increased aquatic vegetation that followed the reclamation, which favors different species of fish such as Largemouth Bass and Bluegill. Yellow Perch ranged in length from 5.6 to 10.9 inches and averaged 9.3 inches. Yellow Perch have not been stocked following the reclamation suggesting that the population is able to sustain itself with natural reproduction.

WALLEYE The 2014 Walleye catch rate was the highest observed catch rate for Walleye since surveys began in 1985 on Mountain Lake. Walleyes were captured at a rate of 21.0 per gill net, which is higher than the expected range of catch rates for similar lakes (2.3 to 18.1 per gill net). Previous catch rates of Walleye ranged from 0.0 per gill net in 1994 to 11.5 per gill net in 2002. Ages estimated from otoliths (inner ear bones used to age fish) indicated that the majority of the Walleyes were age-2, which corresponds to the 2012 stocking event. Gill-netted Walleye ranged in length from 13.8 to 17.8 inches and averaged 14.8 inches. Trap-netted Walleye ranged in length from 11.9 to 24.7 inches and averaged 17.3 inches. The average length at age estimate for age-2 Walleye from Mountain Lake was 14.4 inches, which is average growth when compared to mean length at age estimates from similar lakes (mean length at age for age-2 Walleye was 14.3 inches for similar lakes). Average growth and high condition (plumpness) indicate that prey resources for Walleye are abundant in Mountain Lake. The current regime of stocking fingerlings every other year appears to be successful and will continue until further evaluation during the next survey in 2018.

NORTHERN PIKE Since the reclamation in 1998, the Northern Pike population has been stable, as catch rates have ranged from 1.0 per gill net in 2014 to 3.0 per gill net in 2004. The 2014 catch rate of 1.0 per gill net is below the expected range of catch rates for similar lakes (1.1 to 8.0 per gill net), and is the lowest catch rate observed post-reclamation. Two Northern Pike were captured during the survey and were 23.9 and 32.6 inches in length. Consideration will be given to stocking Northern Pike fingerlings at a rate of 10 per littoral acre to boost the population.

BLACK CRAPPIE The 2014 catch rate of Black Crappie was 0.7 per trap net, similar to the 2010 catch rate of 0.9 per trap net, but below the expected range of catch rates for similar lakes (1.2 to 20.5 per trap net). Black Crappies ranged in length from 3.2 to 3.8 inches and averaged 3.5 inches. It appears that natural reproduction of Black Crappie did not occur in 2014 because no age-0 Black Crappie were captured in a near shore survey conducted in early August; however, the presence of 3.5 inch Black Crappie in the survey indicates that natural reproduction occasionally occurs.

OTHER SPECIES Common Carp were sampled in Mountain Lake for the first time since the reclamation in 1998. Common Carp abundance in trap nets was 3.4 per trap net and gill nets was 9.0 per gill net, both within the expected range of catch rates for similar lakes (1.0 to 5.5 per trap net; 1.0 to 13.8 per gill net). It appears that one year class of Common Carp accounts for the majority of the population with lengths of trap netted carp ranging from 16.0 to 20.6 inches and gill netted carp ranging from 15.3 to 19.5 inches. One 7.9 inch Common Carp was sampled as well.

Black Bullhead abundance has been highly variable since the reclamation, ranging from 47.0 per gill net in 2010 to 233.0 per gill net in 2002. In 2014, the Black Bullhead catch rate was similar to the 2010 catch rate (47.0 per gill net), at 53.0 per gill net, which is within the expected range of catch rates for similar lakes (30.3 to 150.6 per gill net). Black Bullheads ranged in length from 5.0 to 12.8 inches and averaged 10.2 inches.

Yellow bullhead were captured at a rate of 29.0 per gill net, which greatly exceeds the expected range of catch rates for similar lakes (0.5 to 3.5 per gill net). Yellow bullhead ranged in length from 5.5 to 13.5 inches and averaged 10.3 inches.

Other species sampled included Pumpkinseed and Hybrid Sunfish.

Plants in the water and at the water's edge provide habitat, prevent erosion, and absorb excess nutrients. Shrubs, trees, and woody debris such as fallen trees or limbs provide good habitat both above and below the water and should be left in place. By leaving a buffer strip of natural vegetation along the shoreline, property owners can reduce erosion, help maintain or improve water quality, and provide habitat and travel corridors for wildlife.

Best management practices within the watershed (no-till farming, cover crops, buffer strips, targeted fertilizer application, reduced or metered tiling) would help reduce nutrients entering the lake. High nutrient and sediment input can cause algae blooms and reduce overall water quality. Any improvements in the watershed are likely to have positive impacts on the fishery.

Prepared by Jonah Dagel

For more information on this lake, contact:

Area Fisheries Supervisor
175 Co Rd 26
Windom, MN 56101-1868
Phone: (507) 831-2900
Internet: Windom 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 C2884 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