Fisheries Lake Survey

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Name: Pokegama

Nearest Town: Grand Rapids
Primary County: Itasca
Survey Date: 06/28/2010
Inventory Number: 31053200
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Public Access Information

Ownership Type Description
Township Earthen Kings Landing- Pooles Bay on NE end of lake
City Other Woodtick access off Sunny Beach Rd on Wendigo Arm
City Concrete Troop town access - East end of Wendigo Arm
City Concrete La Plant access - off La Plant Rd on Wendigo Arm
DNR Concrete Sherry's Arm PA - South end of Sherry's Arm
City Concrete Mishawaka Landing - Mishawaka Bay
DNR Concrete Tioga Landing- west shore of Tioga Bay on the northwest end of the lake.

Lake Characteristics

Lake Area (acres): 6709.49
Littoral Area (acres): 1978
Maximum Depth (ft): 112
Water Clarity (ft): 15

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

Did you know? The annual budget for the Section of Fisheries is approximately $17 million, which is funded primarily by fishing license and stamp fees and by a federal excise tax on fishing and boating equipment.

Fish Sampled for the 2010 Survey Year


Gear Used

Number of fish per net

Average Fish Weight (lbs)

Normal Range (lbs)


Normal Range

Black Crappie Trap net 0.07 0.3 - 1.7 0.40 0.3 - 0.6
Gill net 0.87 0.2 - 1.1 0.40 0.2 - 0.5
Bluegill Trap net 31.07 3.7 - 42.9 0.19 0.1 - 0.2
Gill net 5.20 N/A 0.18 N/A
Bowfin (dogfish) Trap net 0.60 0.3 - 1.1 5.60 3.9 - 5.1
Gill net 0.13 0.1 - 0.2 3.73 3.0 - 5.2
Brown Bullhead Gill net 0.07 0.3 - 1.6 0.93 0.7 - 1.2
Golden Shiner Trap net 0.07 0.1 - 0.1 0.08 0.1 - 0.1
Green Sunfish Trap net 0.13 0.2 - 1.0 0.32 0.1 - 0.2
Hybrid Sunfish Trap net 0.47 N/A 0.28 N/A
Largemouth Bass Gill net 0.40 0.3 - 1.2 1.23 0.6 - 1.0
Northern Pike Trap net 0.20 N/A 3.00 N/A
Gill net 10.60 3.0 - 7.9 2.28 1.7 - 2.8
Pumpkinseed Trap net 2.93 1.6 - 6.9 0.19 0.1 - 0.3
Gill net 0.93 N/A 0.09 N/A
Rock Bass Trap net 2.33 0.7 - 3.3 0.27 0.2 - 0.5
Gill net 6.07 1.0 - 6.6 0.22 0.3 - 0.5
Silver Redhorse Gill net 0.07 N/A 6.00 N/A
Smallmouth Bass Gill net 0.53 0.2 - 0.9 1.98 0.9 - 1.8
Tullibee (cisco) Gill net 0.13 0.5 - 5.2 1.57 0.4 - 1.0
Walleye Gill net 8.20 4.0 - 9.6 3.24 1.1 - 1.9
White Sucker Gill net 0.93 1.0 - 3.5 2.87 1.5 - 2.3
Yellow Bullhead Trap net 0.67 0.9 - 4.8 0.61 0.7 - 1.0
Gill net 3.40 0.6 - 6.4 0.61 0.6 - 0.9
Yellow Perch Trap net 2.47 0.7 - 3.7 0.12 0.1 - 0.2
Gill net 32.93 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 2010 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 11 3 0 0 0 0 0 14
bluegill 261 274 3 0 0 0 0 0 544
bowfin (dogfish) 0 0 0 0 1 7 3 0 11
brown bullhead 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 0 1
golden shiner 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 1
green sunfish 0 2 0 0 0 0 0 0 2
hybrid sunfish 0 7 0 0 0 0 0 0 7
largemouth bass 0 0 2 3 1 0 0 0 6
northern pike 0 6 8 13 43 69 19 4 162
pumpkinseed 41 15 0 0 0 0 0 0 58
rock bass 55 61 9 0 0 0 0 0 126
silver redhorse 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 1
smallmouth bass 0 0 0 2 6 0 0 0 8
tullibee (cisco) 0 0 0 0 2 0 0 0 2
walleye 0 1 11 12 39 45 15 0 123
white sucker 0 0 0 0 11 3 0 0 14
yellow bullhead 1 15 42 3 0 0 0 0 61
yellow perch 130 387 9 0 0 0 0 0 531

For the record, the largest River Redhorse taken in Minnesota weighed 12 lbs., 10 oz. and was caught:

    Where: Kettle River, Pine County
    When: 5/20/05
    Statistics: 28.38" length, 20" girth

Fish Stocking Activity

Fish Stocked by Species for the Last Ten Years

Year Species Size Number Pounds
2013 Lake Trout adults 1,008 736.0
  Lake Trout adults 357 563.0
  Walleye2 fingerlings 61,543 1,977.0
2012 Lake Trout adults 272 188.7
  Muskellunge2 fingerlings 1,978 393.7
  Walleye2 fingerlings 30,754 1,977.8
2011 Lake Trout adults 341 265.9
  Lake Trout adults 588 1,352.5
  Walleye2 fingerlings 47,007 1,976.9
2010 Muskellunge1 fingerlings 1,978 480.1
  Walleye1 fingerlings 31,650 1,978.0
2009 Lake Trout adults 321 1,347.9
  Lake Trout adults 83 182.8
  Walleye1 fingerlings 27,204 1,978.0
2008 Lake Trout adults 108 256.1
  Muskellunge fingerlings 1,978 439.6
  Walleye adults 465 185.0
  Walleye fingerlings 40,418 1,783.9
  Walleye yearlings 90 9.0
2007 Walleye adults 1,564 922.0
  Walleye fingerlings 11,265 429.0
  Walleye yearlings 3,796 643.0
2006 Lake Trout yearlings 338 41.4
  Lake Trout adults 549 275.0
  Lake Trout adults 118 169.0
  Walleye fingerlings 36,736 1,627.0
  Walleye adults 138 150.0
  Walleye yearlings 321 201.0
2005 Walleye yearlings 592 200.7
  Walleye adults 37 37.0
  Walleye fingerlings 19,347 878.0

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 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
Itasca Co., 31053200
Bluegill Sunfish   All sizes     Mercury
Northern Pike   shorter than 21" 21" or longer   Mercury
Walleye     All sizes   Mercury
White Sucker   All sizes     Mercury

General Population

County, DOWID
Species Meal Advice Contaminants
Unrestricted 1 meal/week 1 meal/month Do not eat
Itasca Co., 31053200
Bluegill Sunfish 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 06/28/2010)

Pokegama Lake is large, sprawling lake near Grand Rapids, MN in the Mississippi River watershed. Pokegama Lake has six small inlets, and outlets to the Mississippi River, where the US Army Corp controls water levels at the Pokegama Dam. The lake has a surface area of 6,612 acres at normal pool, a littoral area of 1,978 acres and a maximum depth of 112 feet. Pokegama is deep and clear. The Secchi disk transparency during the June 2010 assessment was 15 feet in the main basin, indicating good water clarity. Much of the lakeshore has been developed for residential housing. Multiple public accesses can be found around the lake.

Several invasive species are present and may impact the fisheries. Rusty crayfish were first documented in 1988 when they were observed by scuba divers. The survey crews reported fair number of rusty crayfish in some gill nets in the past three assessments. The impacts of rusty crayfish in Pokegama are not known. Rainbow smelt were illegally introduced in the 1980s and appear to have impacted the fishery as total fish weight per net has increased substantially since smelt were discovered. Rainbow smelt may benefit the fishery by providing an additional prey species but could also limit the fishery by disrupting food webs and competing with or preying on native species. Anglers should be reminded that it is illegal and unwise to stock fish without a DNR permit. Rainbow smelt are illegal to use as bait unless being purchase from a DNR approved vendor.

Fish stocking is part of the management of Pokegama Lake. Walleye fingerlings have been stocked annually at a rate of 1 pound per littoral acre. Surplus lake trout are stocked when available to provide bonus angling opportunities. Muskellunge were stocked in 2008 and 2010 to provide additional angling opportunities. There are no special or experimental regulations on Pokegama Lake but statewide seasons and limits apply.

The lake management plan (LMP) for Pokegama Lake was last revised in 2006. Walleye and northern pike were the primary management species and largemouth and smallmouth bass were the secondary management species. The long range goals of the plan were to improve the walleye gill-net catch to 11.0 per gill net and reduce the northern pike gill-net catch to 5.0/net. Other goals included: improving the proportion of quality sized pike (> 21 inches) to over 65% and preferred sized pike (>28 inches) to over 20%, maintaining largemouth and smallmouth bass electrofishing rates at 35 and 15 per hour of electrofishing, maintaining memorable size of smallmouth bass with 15% of the sample exceeding 17 inches, and improving the largemouth bass size structure so 5% exceed the memorable size of 20 inches.

Assessment Results

A fisheries population assessment was conducted in 2010 on Pokegama Lake in Itasca County to assess the status of the fish community. Electrofishing was conducted in early June to assess the bass populations. Test netting included 15 gill net and 15 trap net sets and was conducted in June and July.

Both largemouth and smallmouth bass were relatively abundant as a total of 53 largemouth bass and 39 smallmouth bass were sampled by electrofishing resulting in catch rates of 34 largemouth bass per hour and 25 smallmouth bass per hour. The largemouth catch was near the 2006 LMP goal and the smallmouth catch exceeded the goal. Both populations had quality size structures, but neither met the LMP goal for producing memorial sized bass. Size structure can be highly variable and it is probable that larger fish were present but were not in shallow water during the electrofishing assessment. Sampled largemouth bass averaged 12.5 inches and the largest individual exceeded 18 inches. Growth was average with individuals exceeding 12 inches by age 5 and 15 inches by age 7. Smallmouth bass were generally smaller, averaging 11.5 inches and the largest individual exceeded 15 inches. Growth was somewhat slow, as individuals exceeded 12 inches in 5 years. Given the relative abundance and size structure, good angling opportunities exist for these species.

Yellow perch were the most common species in the gill net catch. The catch was within the expected range when compared to similar lakes and above average for Pokegama Lake. Size structure was poor as few individuals achieved a desirable size for anglers. Angler interest is likely low due to the poor size structure but yellow perch are an important prey species in Pokegama Lake.

Northern pike were the second most common species captured in the gill net sample. The catch rate and size structure goals from the 2006 LMP were not met as the catch rate was high compared to similar lakes and was the highest on record for Pokegama Lake. Northern pike from the gill net catch averaged 20.3 inches and the largest individual exceeded 34 inches. Few individuals exceeded the preferred size of 28 inches. Most pike were relatively young, as the average age was 3.1 years. Only 22% of the sampled pike were age-5 or older, suggesting high mortality of older, larger fish. Growth was relatively fast, and individuals typically exceeded 21 inches in 3 years and 28 inches in 7 years. The pike population appears to have increased in Pokegama Lake over time. The increased catch rate could signal future declines in the production of large pike. Average size is typically small and growth is poor when northern pike occur at high density. Anglers should be encouraged to harvest small northern pike and release pike over 22 inches to help improve the size structure.

Walleye were captured at a rate of 8.2/gill net, which is within the expected range for the lake type and above average for Pokegama Lake. The catch was below the 2006 LMP goal of 11/gill net but that goal was rather ambitious given the lakes historical catch rates and the fact that similar lakes rarely produce catches over 10/gill net. The walleye population was dominated by relatively large fish as walleye averaged 19.4 inches and walleye up to 29 inches were sampled. Size structure was favorable, indicating excellent angler opportunity to catch large walleye. Age analysis identified 15 year classes. The age distribution was well balanced as walleye average 5.8 years of age. The oldest individual sampled was 19 years old. Growth was near the statewide average with individuals typically exceeding 15 inches in 4 years and 20 inches in 7 years.

Bluegill were the most common fish in the trap nets. Bluegill catches have increased in recent years and the current catch rate was average compared to similar lakes and the highest trap net catch recorded for Pokegama Lake. Size structure was modest as bluegill averaged 6.1 inches. Some large bluegills were present, as individuals exceeding 9 inches were captured. Age analysis identified 9 year classes (ages 2-10). The age distribution was well balanced as bluegill averaged 5.4 years of age. Growth was average compared to similar lakes, with individuals typically exceeding 6 inches in 6 years. Given the abundance and size structure, moderate angling opportunities exist.

Tullibee were captured at a low rate compared to similar lakes and below the historical mean for Pokegama Lake. Tullibee catches have varied among assessments but have generally declined since the 1980s. Above average temperatures during the last decade and the introduction of rainbow smelt are likely linked to the apparent decline. It should be noted, however, that tullibee are difficult to sample due to their pelagic nature and summer gill net catches may not represent actual population trends.

Other species captured included black crappie, bowfin, brown and yellow bullheads, pumpkinseed sunfish, rock bass, silver redhorse, white sucker, green sunfish, and golden shiners.

The protection of water quality and habitat is critical in maintaining or improving fish and wildlife populations. Unfortunately, human activities often negatively impact our lakes. Fertilized turf-grass lawns and failing septic systems along with the removal of shoreline and aquatic vegetation, mowing to the shore, and installing sand blanket beaches result in destabilized shorelines, uncontrolled erosion, and increased run-off, contributing excess nutrients and sediment to the lake and degrading water quality and habitat. By understanding the cumulative impacts of our actions and taking steps to avoid or minimize them, we can help insure our quality water resources can be enjoyed well into the future. Anglers can further help insure quality fishing by practicing selective harvest and catch and release.

For more information on this lake, contact:

Area Fisheries Supervisor
1201 East Hwy 2
Grand Rapids, MN 55744
Phone: (218) 327-4430
Internet: Grand Rapids 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 B0441 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