Fisheries Lake Survey

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Name: Little Spirit

Nearest Town: Jackson
Primary County: Jackson
Survey Date: 06/11/2012
Inventory Number: 32002400
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Public Access Information

Ownership Type Description
Bordering State Gravel
Bordering State Concrete

Lake Characteristics

Lake Area (acres): 609
Littoral Area (acres): 419.38
Maximum Depth (ft): 8
Water Clarity (ft): 3.1 (.6-5.5)

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

Did you know? Habitat acquisition of lands next to lakes and streams protects spawning areas and shoreline vegetation, and it increases access to fishing waters.

Fish Sampled for the 2012 Survey Year


Gear Used

Number of fish per net

Average Fish Weight (lbs)

Normal Range (lbs)


Normal Range

Bigmouth Buffalo Trap net 0.45 N/A 4.06 N/A
Gill net 3.67 N/A 2.58 N/A
Black Bullhead Trap net 60.73 2.2 - 60.5 0.44 0.2 - 0.5
Gill net 163.33 9.6 - 91.4 0.20 0.2 - 0.5
Black Crappie Trap net 5.91 2.4 - 15.1 0.25 0.2 - 0.4
Gill net 3.33 1.5 - 14.7 0.19 0.1 - 0.3
Bluegill Trap net 0.36 1.9 - 29.5 0.21 0.2 - 0.3
Channel Catfish Trap net 0.27 N/A 4.30 N/A
Gill net 1.00 N/A 9.34 N/A
Common Carp Trap net 4.18 1.0 - 3.6 3.07 2.1 - 5.3
Gill net 24.67 0.3 - 4.2 2.43 0.8 - 5.0
Freshwater Drum Trap net 0.18 0.1 - 7.0 3.25 0.3 - 1.3
Gill net 1.67 2.6 - 5.5 1.42 0.4 - 2.6
Muskellunge Trap net 0.09 N/A 2.87 N/A
Northern Pike Trap net 0.18 N/A 4.54 N/A
Gill net 0.33 1.5 - 7.0 2.87 1.5 - 3.4
Pumpkinseed Trap net 0.09 0.8 - 8.4 ND 0.1 - 0.2
Quillback Trap net 0.09 N/A 4.19 N/A
Shortnose Gar Trap net 1.36 N/A 1.40 N/A
Gill net 13.00 N/A 1.70 N/A
Walleye Trap net 1.00 0.4 - 1.9 2.24 0.6 - 2.6
Gill net 3.67 1.0 - 7.3 1.89 1.0 - 2.8
White Bass Trap net 0.73 0.1 - 1.2 1.17 1.1 - 2.4
White Crappie Trap net 0.09 2.5 - 11.6 0.20 0.2 - 0.4
Yellow Bullhead Trap net 0.27 0.8 - 6.2 0.45 0.4 - 0.7
Gill net 1.00 0.6 - 6.8 0.80 0.4 - 0.6
Normal Ranges represent typical catches for lakes with similar physical and chemical characteristics.

Length of Selected Species (Trapnet, Gillnet) Sampled for the 2012 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
bigmouth buffalo 0 0 0 4 9 2 1 0 16
black bullhead 15 898 53 179 0 1 0 0 1158
black crappie 0 68 4 1 0 0 0 0 75
bluegill 1 3 0 0 0 0 0 0 4
channel catfish 0 0 0 0 0 4 2 0 6
common carp 0 0 0 5 108 2 3 2 120
freshwater drum 0 0 0 5 1 1 0 0 7
muskellunge 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 1
northern pike 0 0 0 0 0 1 2 0 3
pumpkinseed 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1
quillback 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 1
shortnose gar 0 0 0 3 5 34 12 0 54
walleye 0 0 0 5 11 5 0 0 22
white bass 0 0 1 4 3 0 0 0 8
white crappie 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 1
yellow bullhead 0 1 4 1 0 0 0 0 6

For the record, the largest Mooneye taken in Minnesota weighed 1 lb., 15 oz. and was caught:

    Where: Minnesota River, Redwood County
    When: 6/18/80
    Statistics: 16.5" length, 9.75" girth

Fish Stocking Activity

Fish Stocked by Species for the Last Ten Years

Year Species Size Number Pounds
2015 Walleye fry 635,662 5.6
2013 Walleye fry 634,086 6.0
2011 Walleye fry 642,780 5.6
2009 Walleye fry 633,402 6.0
2007 Walleye fry 634,086 6.2

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
Jackson Co., 32002400
Carp All sizes        
Crappie   All sizes     Mercury
Walleye   All sizes     Mercury
Yellow Perch All sizes        

General Population

County, DOWID
Species Meal Advice Contaminants
Unrestricted 1 meal/week 1 meal/month Do not eat
Jackson Co., 32002400
Carp All sizes        
Crappie All sizes        
Walleye   All sizes     Mercury
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.

PCBS - Polychlorinated biphenyls
PFOS - Perfluorooctane sulfanate

Status of the Fishery (as of 06/11/2012)


Little Spirit Lake is one of the Windom Fish Management Area's border water lakes with the state of Iowa. This 634-acre lake located just north of Spirit Lake Iowa is a class 43 lake that is managed primarily for walleye and secondarily for largemouth bass, black crappie, and yellow perch. Although muskellunge are not stocked in Little Spirit, the Iowa DNR does stock Big Spirit Lake regularly with muskellunge. As there is a connection between Big Spirit and Little Spirit Lake, a small grate keeps larger fish from moving between the lakes. However, when muskellunge are stocked in the spring in Iowa, the fish are small enough to make it through the grate. As a result, MN DNR captures an occasional muskellunge during surveys. Little Spirit is aerated by the Jackson County Conservation League. Little Spirit does have a history of heavy algae blooms at times. In fact algae blooms have caused partial summerkills in some years. Since the last survey, both the IA DNR and Iowa commercial fisherman have captured both silver carp and bighead carp in the East Okoboji and Big Spirit Lakes. In the fall of 2012, Iowa DNR found a juvenile zebra mussel in East Okoboji. The probability exists that within 5-10 years, zebra mussels may show up in Little Spirit Lake due to the connectivity of waters or the high recreational use of among the Iowa Great Lakes and the lakes in the vicinity of the Iowa Great Lakes. Due diligence by those recreational users will be important to prevent the spread of both Asian carp and zebra mussels. The Little Spirit Watershed is small given the size of the lake. It has a watershed-to-lake ratio of about 6:1. Little Spirit is managed by both the Iowa and Minnesota DNR. In the past few years, MN DNR has taken the lead on stocking of Little Spirit Lake to prevent double stockings of fish. Both agencies have been working together to improve both the water quality and fishery. A population assessment was conducted on 6-11-2012 using 3 gill nets, 11 trap nets, and standard boat electrofishing. Near shore assessments to calculate an Index of Biotic Integrity (IBI) was done using seines and back pack electrofishing.


According to our netting done in 2012, the walleye population is lower than desired. Historically catch rates have ranged from 1.8-26.7 fish per set compared to the 3.4 fish per set in 2012. This is based on our gill netting information which we believe does not accurately reflect the true walleye population in Little Spirit Lake. Common carp, black bullhead, and shortnose gar have never been higher in abundance in Little Spirit Lake. It is our belief that at the time of netting, our gill nets tended to fill up with these species which in part meant that the net was not actively catching walleye. According to local reports on the lake, angling for walleye has been quite good. It would appear that the walleye being caught should be good sized fish (>16 inches). We are currently stocking walleye fry every other year and believe that fry is the best strategy for maintaining a good walleye population.


Largemouth bass are a species of secondary management in Little Spirit Lake. The CPUE for largemouth bass electrofishing was 9.3 bass per hour. Although our catch rates have been higher, we did sample young-of-the-year (just hatched in spring) that were about 1 inch long during IBI sampling. This would provide evidence of natural reproduction. The largest year class of bass represented was the 2009 year class. Some larger bass are present and anglers can be successful in catching them.


The black crappie CPUE in trap nets was 5.9 fish per set which was within the normal catch rate range of 2.4 to 15.1 fish per set. Historically, catch rates have ranged from 0.25-32.0 fish per set. The long term average is 8.1 which indicates the population is down slightly. However, total lengths of black crappie ranged from 6 to 12 inches and had a mean of 7.5 inches. Overall, the fish were in good condition and quite plump. It is likely that an angler could catch some nice sized crappies.


Surprisingly, no yellow perch were sampled in trap nets or gill nets in 2012. However during near shore with seines and backpack electrofishing sampling we caught 6 yellow perch of various sizes. This would indicate that some natural reproduction had occurred in the past and a population exists. Considering the connection between Big Spirit Lake and Little Spirit Lake, it would be reasonable to assume that yellow perch will come back successfully on their own from Big Spirit Lake.


As mentioned previously, rough fish were abundant in Little Spirit during sampling in 2012. Shortnose gar, common carp, and black bullhead all had the highest catch rate ever recorded. The shortnose gar CPUE in gill nets was 13 per gill net. Common carp CPUE was nearly 25 fish per set, which is nearly 7 times the upper normal catch rate range. The black bullhead CPUE in gill nets was 163.3 fish per set, which was above the normal catch rate range of 9.6 to 91.4 fish per set. As mentioned previously, we believe this high catch rate may have affected our gamefish catch in gill nets and thus our netting summary may not accurately reflect true gamefish population abundances.


To maintain a healthy fishery in Little Spirit 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 and reduce water clarity. Any improvements in the watershed can have a positive impact on the fishery.

Prepared by Ryan Doorenbos

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 C2523 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