|Nearest Town: Windom
Primary County: Jackson
Survey Date: 06/01/2011
Inventory Number: 32001800
|Did you know? MinnAqua Fishing: Get in the Habitat! has a Minnesota-base activity guide for teachers, scout and 4-H leaders, youth leaders, outdoor sports groups, or anyone interested in teaching others about habitat, stewardship and fishing.|
|Species||Number of fish per net||
Average Fish Weight (lbs)
Normal Range (lbs)
|Bigmouth Buffalo||Gill net||0.33||0.3 - 1.7||5.18||N/A|
|Black Bullhead||Gill net||42.33||2.5 - 45.0||0.39||0.3 - 0.7|
|Black Crappie||Trap net||2.22||1.8 - 21.2||0.26||0.2 - 0.3|
|Gill net||1.67||2.5 - 16.5||0.28||0.1 - 0.3|
|Bluegill||Trap net||0.56||7.5 - 62.5||0.42||0.1 - 0.3|
|Channel Catfish||Trap net||3.56||N/A||0.90||N/A|
|Common Carp||Trap net||0.11||0.4 - 2.0||1.54||2.6 - 6.0|
|Gill net||11.00||0.3 - 3.0||1.79||1.9 - 5.2|
|Green Sunfish||Trap net||0.11||0.2 - 1.3||0.24||0.1 - 0.2|
|Northern Pike||Trap net||0.11||N/A||2.65||N/A|
|Pumpkinseed||Trap net||1.00||0.7 - 4.2||0.23||0.1 - 0.2|
|Smallmouth Bass||Gill net||1.33||0.2 - 2.3||1.58||0.9 - 1.5|
|Walleye||Trap net||0.22||0.3 - 1.2||0.87||0.8 - 2.8|
|Gill net||20.00||1.2 - 6.3||2.23||1.2 - 2.7|
|Yellow Perch||Trap net||0.11||0.3 - 1.7||0.07||0.1 - 0.2|
|Gill net||1.67||2.0 - 27.9||0.13||0.1 - 0.2|
|Species||Number of fish caught in each category (inches)|
|For the record, the largest Brown Bullhead taken in Minnesota weighed 7 lbs., 1 oz. and was caught: |
Statistics: 24.4" length
Fish Stocked by Species for the Last Ten Years
|Privately Stocked Fish|
|* indicates privately stocked fish. Private stocking includes fish purchased by the DNR for stocking and fish purchased and stocked by private citizens and sporting groups.|
|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.|
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
|Unrestricted||1 meal/week||1 meal/month||Do not eat|
Jackson Co., 32001800
|Channel Catfish||All sizes||Mercury|
|Yellow Perch||All sizes|
|Unrestricted||1 meal/week||1 meal/month||Do not eat|
Jackson Co., 32001800
|Channel Catfish||All sizes|
|Yellow Perch||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.
Fish Lake is a 300-acre lake located southeast of Windom in Jackson County. The lake has 3.4 miles of shoreline and has a maximum depth of 26.0 feet. Fish Lake is one of two lakes the Windom Fisheries Management Area manages for smallmouth bass. The Fish Lake Association, which is mostly comprised of lakeshore property owners have historically treated the lake around the 4th of July time period with copper sulphate to reduce the severity of algae blooms and increase water clarity. In recent years, the Fish Lake Association has not treated due in part to the lack of perceived need because of better water clarity in recent years, but also the associations understanding of the long term negative ecological consequences of using copper. In 2006 a secchi disk depth reading was observed to be 20 or more feet subsequent to a treatment. The water clarity in August of 2011 was 4.0 feet. In addition to smallmouth bass, Fish Lake is managed primarily for walleye while channel catfish, yellow perch, black crappie, and bluegill are managed secondarily. Smallmouth bass spawning structures were placed in the lake in 2006 to promote natural reproduction. A fish population assessment was conducted with gill nets, trap nets, electrofishing targeting bass, and IBI sampling (seines and backpack electrofishing targeting juvenile fish) during the summer of 2011 from June (bass electrofishing) through August (netting and IBI sampling). An aquatic vegetation survey was also conducted to determine species presence and abundance.
Fish Lake is limited in the amount of aquatic vegetation and therefore limited in the amount of aquatic habitat. The vegetation survey revealed 4 species of aquatic plants, 1 submergent, 2 emergents, and 1 terrestrial. The submergent plant species was common hornwort, often referred to as coontail, found in rare abundance. The 2 emergent species were narrow-leaved cattail and river bulrush both rare in abundance. The terrestrial species was reed canary grass, which was also rare in abundance. Aquatic vegetation is good for lakes as they provide habitat and nursery for fish and invertebrate species, absorb nutrients so they are not available for algae production, as well as providing dissolved oxygen production via photosynthesis. Expansion of the coontail in Fish Lake would be beneficial for the lake; vegetation should be left alone on Fish Lake to encourage the expansion. In general, there is a direct relationship in the amount of aquatic vegetation (fish habitat) and abundance of fish. In other words, you can expect more fish with more aquatic vegetation/habitat.
The 2011 walleye gill net catch rate was 20.0 fish per net which was greater than the normal range of 1.2 to 6.3 and the greatest on record since sampling began in 1984. The long-term catch rate is 7.3 fish per net and the management goal is 6.0 fish per gill net, both of which were exceeded by the 2011 catch rate. Lengths of walleye sampled in gill nets ranged from 10.3 to 24.5 inches with a mean length of 18.1 inches. Six year classes of walleye (ages 1, 3, 4, 8, 9, and 10) were observed during the assessment. Surprisingly, 3 of the 6 years were not from stocking (ages 4, 8, and 9) indicating some natural reproduction exists in Fish Lake. Two of the stocked years (ages 1 and 3) were fryling stocked and the fish were marked with Oxytetracycline (OTC; shows up as fluorescent mark on ear bone). All of the age 1 (2010) and 3 (2008) year old fish sampled had OTC marks, and 58% of the walleye in the sample were from 2008 and 2010 indicating the success of fryling stocking in Fish Lake. Additionally, the overall condition of the walleye was fair for an August sample indicating some foraging stress is occurring in a very abundant walleye population. In summary, Fish Lake walleye are at an all time high abundance and likely to provide good fishing.
In addition to the abundant walleye population, the smallmouth bass electrofishing catch rate was 54.6 fish per hour in 2011 which met the management goal of maintaining a catch rate above 20.0 per hour. Since 1994, the electrofishing catch rates have varied from a low of 3.3 per hour in 2002 to a current high of 54.6 in 2011 with a long-term average catch rate of 27.3 fish per hour. Lengths of smallmouth bass sampled by electrofishing in 2011 ranged from 3.4 to 17.9 inches with a mean length of 13.1 inches. The sample indicated that the population had an excellent size structure. The overall body condition was average compared to other lakes. Year classes from 2005 (age 6), 2006 (age 5), 2008 (age 3), 2009 (age 2) and 2010 (age 1) were observed during the assessment with larger fish present in the sample that were not aged and young-of-the-year (YOY; newly hatched) present in the nearshore IBI sampling indicating natural spawning. Bass anglers should choose Fish Lake as a destination to catch some very nice fish.
The channel catfish gill net catch rate was 3.3 fish per net in 2011. The historical catch rate average is 6.6 fish per net with a high of 29.3 fish per net in 1994 and a low of 1.0 fish per net in 1984. Lengths of channel catfish sampled in gill nets ranged from 13.4 to 17.0 inches with a mean length of 14.9 inches. The population was dominated by fish in the 13 to 16 inch range in below average condition. Three year classes were represented in the sample from 2002 (age 9), 2003 (age 8), and 2004 (age7). Channel catfish growth rates are very slow in Fish Lake. Angling for channel catfish in Fish Lake will yield lots of small fish and can be fun when the bite for walleye slows down.
The yellow perch gill net catch rate was 1.7 fish per net in 2011 which was below the normal range of 2.0 to 27.9 fish per net. Prior to 2011, the gill net catch rate has never been below 2.0 fish per net with a long-term average catch rate of 50.8 per gill net. Lengths of yellow perch sampled in gill nets ranged from 6.3 to 6.9 inches with a mean length of 6.6 inches indicating only 1 year class of yellow perch remained in Fish Lake. The population was in poor condition indicating possible reproductive and foraging stress. Fish Lake will be restocked with pre-spawn yellow perch in the spring of 2012 in hopes of producing a year class in Fish Lake to jump start the population. Yellow perch are an important forage species for walleye as well as a target species for some anglers. Fishing for yellow perch will be a challenge for the next couple years, but a strong year class as a result of the 2012 stocking could boost the population quickly. It is likely the high abundance of both walleye and smallmouth bass are impacting the abundance of yellow perch in Fish Lake.
The black crappie trap net catch rate was 2.2 fish per net in 2011 which was within the normal range of 1.8 to 21.2 fish per net. The historical long-term average trap net catch rate is 13.3 fish per net which is skewed by two very high catch rates of 28.9 fish per net in 1984 and 63.2 fish per net in 1994, without those the catch rate has been between 0.2 and 5.1 fish per trap net. The average size of the black crappie in the trap nets was 7.5 inches with a range from 6.0 to 8.8 inches indicating 2 or 3 year classes make up the population. The sample indicated a population with a balanced size structure and good average body condition. Fishing for black crappie in the next 2 to 3 years should be above average for Fish Lake, as the fish mature the chance of catching a 10 incher will be good.
The 2011 bluegill trap net catch rate of 0.6 fish per net was below the normal range of 7.5 to 62.5 fish per net. The historical trap net catch rate is 4.4 fish per net which is skewed by a catch rate of 19.3 in 1994, otherwise the trap net catch rate has never exceeded 5.6 fish per net (1989) and is usually below the normal range. However, the catch rate in 2011 is the lowest on record indicating a very low population abundance of bluegill in Fish Lake in 2011. The average length of fish in the trap net sample was 7.7 inches with a range from 7.6 to 7.8 indicating only 1 year class remains in Fish Lake. The sample shows that the population of bluegill is at a very low abundance with only 1 year class and is in good condition. Bluegill fishing success on Fish Lake will be hit or miss, the population abundance will only increase with spawning success in 2012 or future bluegill stocking.
The 2011 black bullhead gill net catch rate was 42.3 fish per net which was within the normal range of 2.5 to 45.0 fish per net. No black bullheads were caught in the trap nets. The long-term gill net catch rate in Fish Lake is 69.5 fish per net so the current catch rate is below typical. Lengths of black bullhead sampled in gill nets ranged from 8.0 to 9.7 inches with a mean length of 8.9 inches. The sample of bullhead indicated a population dominated by smaller fish with average to fair condition. The black bullhead population appears to be the dominant forage base for predators in Fish Lake as their abundance makes them more available over species such as yellow perch and bluegill. Angling for black bullhead is popular with kids because they provide consistent action and they will continue to do so.
The 2011 common carp gill net catch rate was 11.0 fish per net which was above the normal range of 0.3 to 3.0 fish per net and more than the long-term average of 7.7 fish per gill net. Only 1 common carp was caught in the trap nets. Lengths of common carp sampled in gill nets ranged from 14.4 to 21.9 inches with a mean length of 16.3 inches. The overall body condition of the fish in the sample below average. Overall, it appears that the common carp population is at a very high abundance made up of 2 or 3 year classes that are experiencing some foraging stress as seen from the low body condition. Unfortunately, commercial fishing for common carp is challenging due to the deep morphology of Fish Lake.
Other species sampled in the gill nets, trap nets, and IBI sampling were bigmouth buffalo, emerald shiner, green sunfish, hybrid sunfish, johnny darter, largemouth bass, northern pike, pumpkinseed sunfish, and spotfin shiner. All of these species appear to be at low abundance (bigmouth buffalo, largemouth bass, northern pike, hybrid sunfish and pumpkinseed sunfish) or difficult to sample due to small size or seasonal fluctuations (emerald shiner, green sunfish, johnny darter, and spotfin shiner). Including the managed species of walleye, smallmouth bass, channel catfish, yellow perch, and black crappie as well as black bullhead and common carp, Fish Lake had 16 species of fish that were sampled. Sixteen species is very good diversity and indicates adequate habitat and resources exist to support a vast fish community.
To maintain a quality fish community in Fish Lake, best management practices should be used in the watershed to reduce impacts of landuse on the water quality and habitat in Fish Lake. A project involving the use of field tile outlet filters will be implemented on Fish Lake to help reduce the impacts of farming practices on the water chemistry and overall water quality in Fish Lake. Continued efforts should include use of buffer strips and other erosion prevention methods to reduce overland runoff into the streams that feed the lake, and the lake itself. Wise use of our resources makes us good stewards to the land and water that all of us use every day.
Prepared by Nate Hodgins
|For more information on this lake, contact:||Lake maps can be obtained from:|
For general DNR Information, contact:
DNR Information Center
500 Lafayette Road
St. Paul, MN 55155-4040
TDD: (651) 296-6157 or (888) MINNDNR
Turn in Poachers (TIP):
Toll-free: (800) 652-9093