Fisheries Lake Survey

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Name: Minnetonka

Nearest Town: Mound
Primary County: Hennepin
Survey Date: 06/09/2014
Inventory Number: 27013300
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Public Access Information

Ownership Type Description
City Earthen Halsted Bay-- Kings Point Road Carry-In Access
City Earthen Halsted Bay Access
City Concrete Wayzata Bay Access
City Concrete Carson's Bay Access
DNR Concrete Maxwell Bay Access
County Concrete North Arm Access
City Concrete Gray's Bay Access
City Asphalt Cook's Bay Access
County Concrete Three Rivers Park District-Lake Minnetonka Regional Park
County Concrete Spring Park Bay Access

Lake Characteristics

Lake Area (acres): 14205.6
Littoral Area (acres): 5849
Maximum Depth (ft): 113
Water Clarity (ft): 7.9 (1.5-22)

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

Did you know? Minnesota has 11,482 lakes 10 acres or larger, of which 5,483 are fishing lakes. Excluding Lake Superior, the state has 3.8 million acres of fishing water. Minnesota's portion of Lake Superior is 1.4 million acres.

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 Gill net 0.46 0.5 - 4.1 0.50 0.6 - 1.0
Black Crappie Gill net 1.83 0.2 - 1.1 0.21 0.2 - 0.5
Bluegill Gill net 37.08 N/A 0.17 N/A
Brown Bullhead Gill net 0.04 0.3 - 1.6 0.98 0.7 - 1.2
Green Sunfish Gill net 0.50 0.1 - 0.5 0.06 N/A
Hybrid Sunfish Gill net 0.54 N/A 0.14 N/A
Largemouth Bass Gill net 0.21 0.3 - 1.2 1.03 0.6 - 1.0
Muskellunge Gill net 0.08 0.1 - 0.3 15.60 3.1 - 5.3
Northern Pike Gill net 12.17 3.0 - 7.9 2.73 1.7 - 2.8
Pumpkinseed Gill net 2.67 N/A 0.11 N/A
Rock Bass Gill net 1.71 1.0 - 6.6 0.37 0.3 - 0.5
Smallmouth Bass Gill net 0.12 0.2 - 0.9 1.80 0.9 - 1.8
Walleye Gill net 2.58 4.0 - 9.6 2.31 1.1 - 1.9
Yellow Bullhead Gill net 0.67 0.6 - 6.4 0.59 0.6 - 0.9
Yellow Perch Gill net 11.62 7.1 - 33.9 0.12 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 bullhead 1 1 9 0 0 0 0 0 11
black crappie 13 29 1 0 0 0 0 0 43
bluegill 307 578 0 0 0 0 0 0 885
brown bullhead 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 0 1
green sunfish 12 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 12
hybrid sunfish 7 6 0 0 0 0 0 0 13
largemouth bass 0 0 2 3 0 0 0 0 5
muskellunge 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 2 2
northern pike 0 0 0 1 87 134 59 11 292
pumpkinseed 53 10 0 0 0 0 0 0 63
rock bass 13 20 8 0 0 0 0 0 41
smallmouth bass 0 0 0 0 3 0 0 0 3
walleye 0 0 5 2 42 10 3 0 62
yellow bullhead 2 4 7 3 0 0 0 0 16
yellow perch 96 179 0 0 0 0 0 0 275

For the record, the largest Atlantic Salmon taken in Minnesota weighed 12 lbs., 13 oz. and was caught:

    Where: Baptism River, Lake County
    When: 10/12/91
    Statistics: 35.5" length, 16.5" girth

Fish Stocking Activity

Fish Stocked by Species for the Last Ten Years

Year Species Size Number Pounds
2015 Muskellunge fingerlings 1,500 356.8
  Muskellunge fingerlings 2,172 479.5
  Walleye1 yearlings 12,964 1,852.0
2014 muskellunge2 yearlings 2,700 170.0
  walleye2 fingerlings 33,407 1,284.9
  walleye1 fingerlings 10,500 1,500.0
  walleye2 fingerlings 87,879 2,982.8
  walleye fingerlings 23,360 1,032.0
  walleye fingerlings 19,691 1,145.4
2013 Walleye1 yearlings 2,502 417.0
2012 Muskellunge yearlings 215 233.2
  Muskellunge1 fingerlings 1,200 232.1
  Walleye2 fingerlings 113,471 6,444.1
2011 Muskellunge yearlings 88 67.7
  Muskellunge2 fingerlings 1,200 226.4
2010 Walleye1 fingerlings 66,137 4,274.6
  Walleye1 fingerlings 35,416 2,167.5
2009 Muskellunge adults 46 46.0
  Muskellunge1 fingerlings 703 175.8
  Muskellunge1 fingerlings 511 127.8
  Muskellunge yearlings 372 186.0
2008 Muskellunge adults 103 454.1
  Muskellunge yearlings 35 17.5
  Muskellunge1 fingerlings 305 112.1
  Walleye1 fingerlings 98,947 4,841.3
  Walleye1 fingerlings 27,177 1,606.7
2007 Muskellunge adults 351 1,103.0
  Muskellunge1 adults 51 63.8
  Muskellunge fingerlings 425 65.2
  Muskellunge1 fingerlings 2,500 776.4
  Muskellunge1 yearlings 99 33.0
2006 Muskellunge adults 744 1,804.1
  Muskellunge1 yearlings 383 138.9
  Walleye fingerlings 9,030 492.1
  Walleye1 fingerlings 116,307 5,958.5

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
Hennepin Co., 27013300
Bluegill Sunfish   All sizes     Mercury
Carp   All sizes     Mercury
Crappie All sizes        
Largemouth Bass   All sizes     Mercury
Northern Pike   shorter than 27" 27" or longer   Mercury
Walleye   shorter than 18" 18" or longer   Mercury
White Sucker All sizes        

General Population

County, DOWID
Species Meal Advice Contaminants
Unrestricted 1 meal/week 1 meal/month Do not eat
Hennepin Co., 27013300
Bluegill Sunfish All sizes        
Carp All sizes        
Crappie All sizes        
Largemouth Bass 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.

PCBS - Polychlorinated biphenyls
PFOS - Perfluorooctane sulfanate

Status of the Fishery (as of 06/09/2014)

The 2014 Lake Minnetonka fisheries assessment was conducted June 9 through July 1. The current management plan requires assessments on even numbered years (biennially). The goal of the assessment is to describe trends in growth, condition, relative abundance, reproduction, and size structure of Walleye, Northern Pike and Yellow Perch. Sampling these species involves 24 experimental gill-net sets. In May 2011, an electrofishing special assessment was conducted to evaluate the status of the Largemouth Bass population. Those data are included in this report. Sampling in Lake Minnetonka is divided into three aggregations of basins that differ in their habitat and water chemistry characteristics. Data is analyzed as an entire lake and by basin. Overall, the 2014 gill-net assessment revealed a diverse fish community (14 species) dominated by Northern Pike (33.2 lbs/net), Bluegill (6.1 lbs/net), and Walleye (6.0 lbs/net).

Water Quality According to the Minnesota State Climatology Office, June 2014 was Minnesota's wettest June, and wettest month of the modern record. This included the preliminary record-setting totals of 11.36 inches for the Minneapolis-St. Paul metropolitan area. Much of the rain came in a few heavy storms that each dropped over 2 inches of rain. The Minnehaha Creek Watershed District measured an all-time high lake level at the Gray's Bay dam of 931.11 ft. on June 23 (929.40 ft. is the ordinary lake level). High water forced boating restrictions, including no-wake for the entire lake June 5-July 24.

The Northwest Bays are most fertile, primarily because they are the first recipients of the majority of surface runoff from the watershed. The Upper Lakes are intermediate in fertility, while the Lower Lakes are least fertile. Thus, the Lower Lakes have the best water quality, followed by the Upper Lakes, then the Northwest Bays. Water quality trends in Lake Minnetonka show a positive relationship for increasing water clarity, which can be attributed to improvements in the condition of the watershed. Improving water quality was observed before the discovery of zebra mussels in 2010. The Minnehaha Creek Watershed District more closely monitors water quality in Lake Minnetonka. For more a more specific description of the water quality in each bay/basin see the District's website (

Walleye Lake Minnetonka is stocked with 6,446 pounds of fingerling Walleye in even-numbered years (approx. 96,000-128,000 fish). Walleye are stocked into all three basins of the lake. Since 2004, most or all of the Walleye fingerlings stocked were purchased from Minnesota-based fish vendors under State contracts. Additionally, in 2013 and 2014, the Westonka Walleye Program (WWP), a privately-funded organization, was issued permits to stock Walleye in the Northwest Bays of the lake. Fundraising events are underway to purchase Walleye for 2015 as well. The goal of the WWP is to stock larger fish that will have higher survival. The permits allow stocking of even-numbered year-classes that coincide with DNR stocking. In the fall of 2013, the WWP stocked 2,502 yearling Walleye (6/lb). In 2014, they stocked 10,500 fingerling Walleye (8-13" TL, 7/lb). Future assessments will look closely to ascertain changes in Walleye abundances and sizes resulting from these stockings.

Despite extensive stocking, Walleye abundance, as indexed by gill-net catch-per-unit-effort, has remained at a low density. Catch rates since 1977 have ranged from 1.5-8.8/net, averaging 4.0/net. In 2014, Walleye abundance (2.6/net) was lower than the 4.3/net caught in 2012. Lower catch rates were observed in all three basins.

The size structure of the population was relatively large. The proportion of 15-inch and longer Walleye increased from 78% in 2012 to 90% in 2014 and has averaged 79% over the long term. However; the proportion of Walleye 20 inches and larger decreased from 42% in 2012 to 21% in 2014 and was lower than the long-term average of 34%. Walleye averaged 18.1 inches in length and ranged from 9.7-27.2 inches. Average length was similar in the Northwest Bays (19.8 inches) and the Lower Lakes (19.1 inches) but lower in the Upper Lakes (15.4 inches). Walleye mean weight (2.3 lbs) was large when compared to other similar lakes and this has been the case since the 1992 assessment. Mean weight was highest in the Northwest Bays (3.1 lbs), followed by the Lower Lakes (2.6 lbs), and the Upper Lakes (1.5 lbs). The general trend over time has been for the greatest proportion of larger Walleyes to be located in the Northwest Bays. Growth of Walleye sampled in 2014 was a little faster than in previous assessments. In general, Walleye grew to 13.5 inches by age-3 and 18.8 inches by age-6; however there were gender-related differences. An age-3 female averaged 14.3 inches, while an age-3 male averaged 12.9 inches. Gender-related trends in growth were similar among all three basins, though Walleye grew fastest in the Northwest Bays.

Consistent with previous assessments, Walleye natural reproduction is limited. In 2014, 3 of 57 (3.5%) Walleye originated from a non-stocked year-class. These naturally reproduced Walleye were remnants of the small 1997 and 1999 year classes that have been observed in previous assessments. In recent assessments, few younger Walleye have been sampled in non-stocked year classes. Over the last 5 assessments (2008 through 2012) the number of naturally reproduced fish in a sample has ranged from 5.2 to 16%, averaging 10.5%.

Age-4 Walleye (stocked 2010 year class) were the most abundant in the 2014 sample (65% of the total). These fish averaged 17.2 inches. The 2008 year-class was the second most abundant comprising 12% of the total. Those 6-year-old fish averaged 19.0 inches. The 2008 and 2010 year classes were also the most abundant in the 2012 assessment.

Northern Pike The 2014 catch (12.2/net) is high compared to other similar lakes in the state and is higher than the long-term average of 10.6/net. Northern Pike catch rates in the Lower Lakes (15.5 fish/net) exceeded catch in both the Upper Lakes (11.4 fish/net) and Northwest Bays (7.7 fish/net). In the most recent assessments, the Lower Lakes have had higher catch rates of Northern Pike, although among the basins, long-term averages are relatively similar (Upper Lakes = 10.8, Lower Lakes = 10.6, Northwest Bays = 9.5).

Mean size was relatively large; pike averaged 22.4 inches and 2.73 lbs, which was comparable to 2012 and near the long term average. Mean length was greatest in the Northwest Bays (23.8 inches) followed by Upper Lakes (22.9 inches) then Lower Lakes (21.8 inches). The largest individual captured was an age-7 female at 35.2 inches and 10.7 lbs. Size structure indices revealed a quality Northern Pike population. Fifty-nine percent were 21 inches or longer and 9.6% were 28 inches or longer. The best size structure was found in the Northwest Bays where 78% were 21 inches or longer and 17% were 28 inches or longer.

Growth rates were similar to other West Metro Management Area lakes. On average, Northern Pike in Lake Minnetonka were 19.6 inches by age-3 and 26.9 inches by age-6, although growth did differ, as expected, by gender. Females reached older ages and consistently grew faster. For example, an age-3 female was 20.3 inches compared to an 18.8-inch male that same age. Based on the length of an age-3 female, growth was fastest in the Northwest Bays (22.0 inches) but similar in both the Upper (20.1 inches) and Lower Lakes (19.9 inches). Nine year-classes were sampled and most fish (83%) were between 3 and 5 years old.

Yellow perch Yellow Perch abundance (11.6/net) in 2014 was near the long term average of 13.1/gill net and considered moderately low compared to other similar lakes. The Northwest Bays have historically had the highest Yellow Perch abundance and this was again true in 2014. Abundance in the Northwest Bays was 25.3/gill net, 11.8/net in the Upper Lakes, and 3.5/net in the Lower Lakes.

Historically, Yellow Perch size structure has been small in Lake Minnetonka. In 2014, perch ranged in size from 5.1-8.7 inches; only 2.9% were greater than 8 inches. Mean length (6.4 inches) and weight (0.12 lbs) were similar to 2012 values. The perch population in the Northwest Bays has a better size structure than the other two basins. However, mean size was small (6.5 inches); the largest fish measured 8.7 inches. Six year-classes were sampled with the oldest individual captured age-7. Sixty-eight percent were age-3 or 4. Yellow Perch growth was slower on average and similar in the Upper Lakes and Northwest Bays where perch reached 5.5 inches by age 3. In the Lower Lakes, perch were 5.0 inches at age 3.

Muskellunge Muskellunge were not targeted during this assessment, but, based on other indicators and reports, their population remains strong. Fish exceeding 50 inches and approaching 40 pounds are caught in Lake Minnetonka every year. Survival of stocked fingerling Muskellunge is assumed to be low due to the high abundance of Largemouth Bass and Northern Pike. Advanced fingerlings and yearlings have been used in recent years in attempt to improve survival rates of stocked fish. A research study is currently taking place in Lake Minnetonka comparing the survival of stocked fingerling and yearling Muskellunge. Stocked fish were tagged in 2008, 2009, 2011, and 2012. Muskellunge were tagged with an external spaghetti-type tag near the dorsal fin on the fish's left side. These tags, yellow in color, include a six-digit number. For longer-term tracking, an internal PIT-style tag was also inserted and can only be detected with a specific reader. Angler reports of captured tagged Muskellunge are essential to the success of this project. If you catch a tagged muskellunge please record the tag number and length of fish and report the catch via the Tagged Fish Reporting page within the MNDNR website. Please DO NOT remove the tag. Please contact the West Metro Area Fisheries Office with questions. Practicing CPR (Catch, Photo, and Release) is essential to maintaining the trophy Muskellunge fishery found in Lake Minnetonka.

Largemouth Bass The Largemouth Bass population in Lake Minnetonka has a reputation for quality fishing. In May 2011, a nighttime boat electrofishing assessment was performed to target Largemouth Bass. A total of 385 Largemouth Bass were sampled in 11 electrofishing transects, equating to 75.4 bass per hour of on-time. Catch rates were similar to the 2009 assessment, when 73.2 bass per hour were sampled. These catch rates are above average for area lakes. The size structure of the Largemouth Bass population in Lake Minnetonka was well-balanced and the fish are in good physical condition. It appeared the larger fish tended to be in the best condition. Largemouth Bass averaged 11.8 inches and 1.04 lbs, lower than in 2009 when fish averaged 13.5 inches and 1.5 lbs. The largest bass sampled was 20.9 inches long and 4.9 lbs. Fish from the 1999 through 2009 year classes were present, indicating consistent reproduction and recruitment. Age-3 bass from the 2008 year class were most abundant (25%), followed by the 2007 (23% of the total) and 2005 (9.4% of the total) year classes. Largemouth Bass reached 14 inches by age 7 and 18 inches by age 11. No Smallmouth Bass were sampled during the spring electrofishing assessment. Numerous bass tournaments are held on the lake every year. These tournaments are by permit only and fish data must be turned into the DNR. In 2014, 8 bass tournaments requiring permits were held. A total of 669 tournament anglers caught 1,744 Largemouth Bass and 6 Smallmouth Bass during these events. Average size was 2.61 lbs and the largest recorded was 6.35 lbs. Since bass anglers target the largest individuals in a population, it is common for angling results to yield larger size fish, on average, than electrofishing. Additionally, individual tournaments may enact their own minimum size limit, thus adding to a larger-fish size bias. The electrofishing assessment targeted all sizes of bass. Other Fish Species

Bluegill and Black Crappie are abundant in Lake Minnetonka; however, gill nets are not reliable indicators of their relative abundance. The consistent natural reproduction and high recruitment of these species have ensured quality angling opportunities. Black Bullhead, Brown Bullhead, Green Sunfish, hybrid sunfish, Pumpkinseed Sunfish, Rock Bass, Smallmouth Bass, and Yellow Bullhead were also captured in low numbers during the 2014 assessment. Smallmouth Bass were sampled only in the Lower Lakes.

Aquatic Invasive Species Eurasian water milfoil and curly leaf pondweed are found in high abundance throughout the lake and in 2010 zebra mussels and flowering rush were first found to be present. Lake Minnetonka receives heavy recreational use, so potential for the spread of invasive species into and out of the lake is high. Anglers and boaters should take the precautions necessary to prevent the further spread of all invasive species.

The shoreline and watershed of Lake Minnetonka is highly developed which puts stress on the lake's aquatic habitat and ecosystem integrity. Large docks, boating platforms, and man-made beaches have the potential to destroy vital habitat for fish and wildlife. Environmentally friendly development practices, such as shoreline buffer strips of natural vegetation and fallen woody debris, are necessary to maintain the current water quality of Lake Minnetonka. Shoreline development, invasive species, and the fish diseases Viral Hemorrhagic Septicemia (VHS) and Largemouth Bass Virus should be a concern to everyone who enjoys lake recreation.

For more information on this lake, contact:

Area Fisheries Supervisor
7050 E Hwy 101, Suite 100
Shakopee, MN 55379
Phone: (952) 496-4141
Internet: West Metro 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 B0122 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

Tip Logo    Turn in Poachers (TIP):

    Toll-free: (800) 652-9093