Fisheries Lake Survey

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Name: Independence

Nearest Town: Jackson
Primary County: Jackson
Survey Date: 06/27/2011
Inventory Number: 32001700
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Public Access Information

Ownership Type Description
DNR Concrete

Lake Characteristics

Lake Area (acres): 96.5
Littoral Area (acres): 96.5
Maximum Depth (ft): 10
Water Clarity (ft): 3.9 (3.2-4.5)

Dominant Bottom Substrate: N/A
Abundance of Aquatic Plants: N/A
Maximum Depth of Plant Growth (ft): 5.4 (2-6.5)

Did you know? Each year, DNR fisheries personnel stock game fish fry and fingerlings in lakes lacking habitat for natural reproduction.

Fish Sampled for the 2011 Survey Year


Gear Used

Number of fish per net

Average Fish Weight (lbs)

Normal Range (lbs)


Normal Range

Black Bullhead Trap net 36.00 11.5 - 132.6 0.53 0.2 - 0.4
Gill net 18.33 30.3 - 150.6 0.52 0.2 - 0.4
Black Crappie Trap net 0.33 1.2 - 20.5 0.20 0.2 - 0.5
Bluegill Trap net 0.44 1.2 - 20.0 0.47 0.1 - 0.4
Hybrid Sunfish Trap net 9.33 N/A 0.17 N/A
Largemouth Bass Gill net 1.33 0.2 - 1.5 2.27 0.6 - 1.4
Pumpkinseed Trap net 1.56 0.3 - 4.9 0.20 0.1 - 0.2
Gill net 5.67 N/A 0.13 N/A
Walleye Trap net 0.33 0.5 - 3.0 2.44 0.8 - 2.3
Gill net 7.67 2.3 - 18.1 2.29 1.0 - 2.3
Yellow Perch Trap net 0.78 0.3 - 3.8 0.62 0.1 - 0.3
Gill net 67.67 2.7 - 25.0 0.25 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 2011 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 4 14 355 0 0 0 0 0 379
black crappie 1 2 0 0 0 0 0 0 3
bluegill 2 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 4
hybrid sunfish 67 13 0 0 0 0 0 0 84
largemouth bass 0 0 0 2 2 0 0 0 4
pumpkinseed 26 3 0 0 0 0 0 0 31
walleye 0 1 0 1 20 4 0 0 26
yellow perch 0 158 43 1 0 0 0 0 210

For the record, the largest Brook Trout taken in Minnesota weighed 6 lbs., 5.6 oz. and was caught:

    Where: Pigeon River, Cook County
    When: 9/2/00
    Statistics: 24" length, 14.5" girth

Fish Stocking Activity

Fish Stocked by Species for the Last Ten Years

Year Species Size Number Pounds
2014 walleye fingerlings 6,677 295.0
2013 Largemouth Bass fingerlings 194 20.0
  Walleye fingerlings 3,984 166.0
  Walleye fingerlings 1,945 171.0
2011 Walleye fingerlings 6,069 294.3
2010 Walleye fingerlings 2,768 173.0
  Walleye yearlings 788 164.5
2008 Walleye fingerlings 7,335 295.0
2007 Walleye fingerlings 9,664 323.0

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

No fish consumption guidelines are available for this lake. For more information, see the "Fish Consumption Advice" pages at the Minnesota Department of Health.

Status of the Fishery (as of 06/27/2011)

Independence Lake is a 112-acre lake located in Jackson County southeast of Windom. The lake has a maximum depth of 10.0 feet and 1.5 miles of shoreline. Fish management on Independence Lake was limited by the lack of a convenient public access and boat ramp until the early 1990's. Since then, the lake has been managed for walleye and black crappie, with attempts to manage for largemouth bass and bluegill occurring since the 1993. It is presently managed for largemouth bass while bluegill and walleye are managed secondarily. A population assessment using night electrofishing for largemouth bass and trap netting, and gill netting for all other species was conducted in June of 2011. In addition, a depth sounding was conducted and a contour map was created for Independence Lake that can be found on the Windom Fisheries Management webpage at, click on the "Latest Contour Maps" link at the bottom of the page to access the map. Currently, the MN DNR (Parks and Trials Division) is trying to renew the public access lease agreement with a private land owner. There exists a possibility that the landowner wants the public access removed from the lake. Continued management of Independence Lake for fish is contingent upon public access on the lake. Without access, Independence Lake will no longer be stocked with fish.

Largemouth bass are difficult to sample with trap nets and gill nets due to their behavior and ability to avoid nets. In gill nets and trap nets, only 4 largemouth bass were caught, all in gill nets. The gill net catch rate was 1.3 per net which is within the normal range for Independence Lake (0.2 to 1.5 per net) with an average weight of 2.3 pounds which is well above the normal range for Independence Lake (0.6 to 1.4 lbs.). The 4 largemouth bass ranged in length from 12.3 to 18.0 inches with a mean of 14.8 inches. To better understand the largemouth bass population, night electrofishing is used in population assessments to target largemouth bass. Night electrofishing allows us to sample them effectively with the ability to take measurements (length and scale samples for age) and release the fish without harm. During night electrofishing 36 largemouth bass were caught for a catch rate of 47.0 fish per hour. A population estimate was conducted and the estimate revealed that the adult largemouth bass population exceeds 70 individuals (probably more than that due to the decreased effectiveness of fishing for largemouth bass with nets). Largemouth bass ranged in length from 6.2 to 19.5 inches with a mean of 13.3 inches. Five ages of largemouth bass were verified with largemouth bass reaching 8 inches by age 3 and 16 inches by age 6. The overall size structure of largemouth bass was excellent and the current condition of the largemouth bass is great indicating a population that is foraging well and has some hefty fish. Independence Lake is a great largemouth bass lake and should be high on your list for bass angling.

Bluegill were in low abundance during the 2011 survey with 0.4 fish per trap net which is less than the normal range of 1.2 to 20.0 fish per net. The pumpkinseed catch rate was 1.6 fish per trap net which is within the normal range of 0.3 to 4.9 fish per trap net. In 2011, the hybrid sunfish catch rate was 9.3 fish per trap net and the size structure included fish ranging in length from 4.1 to 8.3 inches with a mean of 5.5 inches. The catch shows a well established and robust hybrid sunfish population. Sunfish (bluegill, pumpkinseed, orangespotted, green, etc.) are notorious for hybridizing with other sunfish species. Overtime, the sunfish population in Independence Lake has become more and more hybridized resulting in a bluegill pumpkinseed hybrid. Hybrid sunfish grow fast and will do well in Independence Lake. Overall it appears that the sunfish population in Independence is experiencing increased hybridization, but abundance, size, condition, and reproduction of sunfish are at levels that will sustain a viable population with good angling success on the horizon.

Walleye are stocked in Independence Lake to provide an additional fishing opportunity and as a means to keep the black bullhead population in check via predation. In 2011, 26 walleye were sampled with a gillnet catch rate of 7.7 fish per net and a trapnet catch rate of 0.3 fish per net. The gillnet catch rate was within the normal range of 2.3 to 18.1 fish per net and the second highest catch rate observed since fish population assessments began in 1985. The trap net catch rate was below the normal range of 0.5 to 3.0 fish per net, but trap nets ineffective in sampling walleye, especially in a lake that has steep shoreline drop-offs like Independence. Walleye ranged in length from 8.7 to 24.8 inches with a mean of 17.9 inches and an average weight of 2.3 pounds (ages 1-4; fish stocked from 2007-2010). For the small size of Independence Lake, the walleye had a tremendous size structure and good body condition. Growth of walleye was also very good with fish reaching 17.0 inches by age 3. The walleye population in Independence Lake appears to be doing very well. A recent fingerling stocking in 2011 will add to the walleye population in Independence Lake and will help provide a great fishing opportunity over the next 2 to 3 years.

Yellow perch in Independence Lake are on the rise. In 2011, the gillnet catch rate was 67.7 fish per net which is the second highest on record and the highest since 1985 when it was 145 per net. The current catch rate is 2.7 times the upper normal range of 2.7 to 25.0 fish per gillnet and more than the long-term average of 40.5 fish per gillnet. The yellow perch range in length from 6.1 to 12.7 inches and have an average length of 8.3 inches and an average weight one quarter pound per fish. The size structure of yellow perch is great but the average body condition is in the below average range indicating a population that has a balanced size structure but is showing some signs of stress. With a high abundance of yellow perch, competition with other perch and with other species for food resources may be to blame for the low body condition. It is possible the yellow perch abundance will decrease some over the next several years due the stress on the population. With that said, the population of yellow perch is still at a very high abundance with a very good size structure that should create a good fishing opportunity for hungry yellow perch in Independence Lake.

Other species sampled with gillnets, trapnets, and nearshore sampling (seining and electrofishing) were black bullhead, black crappie, and green sunfish. The black bullhead population is appears to be decreasing in population, 464 fish per gill net were caught in 2003 and now only 18.3 per gill net were caught in 2011 showing a possible benefit of intensive walleye stocking on black bullhead abundance. Black crappie have never been abundant in Independence Lake, it appears that they are remnants of past stockings or introductions to the lake from people dumping black crappie in hopes of establishing a population. Green sunfish are widely distributed in southern Minnesota lakes and maintain themselves through natural reproduction, they are also very tolerant to disturbances and poor water quality so they are one of the first to re-colonize lakes that winterkill or summerkill frequently.

To maintain a healthy fishery in Independence Lake; we need to promote Best Management Practices (BMP's) within the watershed to help reduce nutrients entering the lake. High nutrients and sediments in a lake can cause algae blooms leading to decreased water clarity and they can degrade water quality over time. Tell local landowners that you care about the water quality in Independence Lake and that they can help make it better. Be responsible with your harvest of large fish, it takes 2 to 3 times as long to produce a trophy fish than it does to produce a trophy deer, release all fish you do not plan to harvest for personal consumption or trophy mounting. Pictures and memories can last a lifetime, help pass those opportunities along to others by practicing catch-and-release fishing.

Prepared by Nate Hodgins

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
No depth map available.

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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