Fisheries Lake Survey

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Name: Pearl

Nearest Town: Jackson
Primary County: Jackson
Survey Date: 06/28/2013
Inventory Number: 32003300

Public Access Information

Ownership Type Description
County Carry-In
County Concrete

Lake Characteristics

Lake Area (acres): 117
Littoral Area (acres): 117
Maximum Depth (ft): 6
Water Clarity (ft): 4.9

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 2013 Survey Year


Gear Used

Number of fish per net

Average Fish Weight (lbs)

Normal Range (lbs)


Normal Range

Bigmouth Buffalo Trap net 3.50 0.2 - 1.0 4.59 2.6 - 5.8
Gill net 6.00 0.8 - 7.0 2.62 N/A
Black Bullhead Trap net 12.75 11.5 - 132.6 0.77 0.2 - 0.4
Gill net 79.00 30.3 - 150.6 0.60 0.2 - 0.4
Black Crappie Trap net 2.33 1.2 - 20.5 0.55 0.2 - 0.5
Gill net 9.00 1.4 - 13.8 0.41 0.2 - 0.4
Bluegill Trap net 1.00 1.2 - 20.0 0.41 0.1 - 0.4
Gill net 1.00 N/A 0.72 N/A
Channel Catfish Trap net 0.50 N/A 4.88 N/A
Gill net 3.00 N/A 2.53 N/A
Common Carp Trap net 1.50 1.0 - 5.5 8.82 1.4 - 4.6
Freshwater Drum Gill net 2.00 0.5 - 8.3 2.44 0.4 - 1.7
Largemouth Bass Trap net 0.08 0.2 - 0.7 1.85 0.3 - 1.5
Northern Pike Trap net 0.08 N/A 2.14 N/A
Shortnose Gar Trap net 0.08 N/A 2.07 N/A
Walleye Trap net 0.08 0.5 - 3.0 3.80 0.8 - 2.3
Gill net 6.00 2.3 - 18.1 1.46 1.0 - 2.3
White Sucker Gill net 1.00 0.8 - 6.5 2.20 0.9 - 2.0
Yellow Bullhead Trap net 0.08 0.5 - 2.5 0.62 0.3 - 0.7
Yellow Perch Trap net 0.42 0.3 - 3.8 0.26 0.1 - 0.3
Gill net 35.00 2.7 - 25.0 0.52 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 2013 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 9 20 18 1 0 48
black bullhead 0 24 187 14 1 0 0 0 232
black crappie 12 4 17 4 0 0 0 0 37
bluegill 2 10 1 0 0 0 0 0 13
channel catfish 0 0 0 0 3 4 2 0 9
common carp 0 0 0 0 1 3 11 3 18
freshwater drum 0 0 0 1 0 1 0 0 2
largemouth bass 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 1
northern pike 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 1
shortnose gar 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 1
walleye 0 0 0 3 2 2 0 0 7
white sucker 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 1
yellow bullhead 0 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 1
yellow perch 1 21 15 2 0 0 0 0 40

For the record, the largest Rainbow Trout taken in Minnesota weighed 17 lbs., 6 oz. and was caught:

    Where: Knife River, Lake County
    When: 1/19/74
    Statistics: 36.9" length

Fish Stocking Activity

Fish Stocked by Species for the Last Ten Years

Year Species Size Number Pounds
2014 northern pike fingerlings 1,170 10.6
2010 Walleye1 fry 100,000 0.9
2007 Northern Pike fingerlings 881 14.7

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 06/28/2013)

INTRODUCTION Pearl Lake is a 117-acre, class 43 lake located in Jackson County approximately 9 miles southwest of the City of Jackson, near the Iowa-Minnesota border. Pearl Lake is shallow with an average depth of 4.0 ft. and a maximum depth of 6.0 ft. Historically, Pearl Lake has been prone to winterkill; therefore, an aeration system was installed during the winter of 1987-1988 by the Jackson County Conservation League. Despite aeration efforts, dissolved oxygen levels occasionally drop below desired levels, likely resulting in partial winterkills, with the most recent low oxygen event being recorded in 2000.

During the survey, water quality was good, with a secchi depth of 4.9 ft.; however, water quality tends to be poor in Pearl Lake. During drought conditions over the past couple of years a reduced influx of nutrients may be leading to better water clarity. Poor water quality likely results from excess nutrients in runoff, as agriculture dominates the land use in the lake's watershed.

Pearl Lake is managed primarily for northern pike and secondarily for black crappie and yellow perch. Stocking efforts are minimal because of the lakes connection to Loon Lake, as it is believed that enough immigration of fish occurs from Loon Lake to Pearl Lake to sustain fish populations, as evidenced from historical catch rates and stocking histories. Walleye are also present in Pearl Lake, but are not actively managed because of the lakes connection to Loon Lake, a managed walleye lake. Walleye fry have been stocked in Pearl Lake in recent years by private parties, with the intention of supplementing stocking efforts in the connected Loon Lake. A population assessment was conducted during the week of June 24, 2013 to monitor fish populations using one gill net and 12 trap nets.

NORTHERN PIKE Northern pike have historically occurred in low abundance in Pearl Lake, ranging from 0.1 per trap net in 2013 to 1.4 per trap net in 1997. No pike were captured in the gill net in 2013. The 2013 catch rate of 0.1 per trap net was the lowest observed catch rate of northern pike in Pearl Lake. The sampled northern pike was 18 inches in length and weighed 2.1 pounds. Prey availability does not appear to be a limiting factor as 2013 yellow perch catch rates were high. Spawning habitat is also available upstream of Pearl Lake but may only be available when water level is high enough to connect Pearl Lake to Anderson's Marsh and Rush Lake. In the 2012 Loon Lake survey, northern pike catch rates were also low at 1.0 per gill net and 0.3 per trap net. It appears northern pike catch rates are below average in much of the chain. The low abundances may be related to the lack of habitat and poor water quality in these systems. Northern pike are ambush predators that use their sense of vision to efficiently forage. Northern pike thrive in systems with relatively clear water and abundant aquatic vegetation, which is uncharacteristic of Pearl Lake. It appears that the northern pike population will need to be maintained via stocking as the management goal of 3.0 per trap net was not met. Benefits of northern pike stocking could include maintaining a fishable population and building up the brood stock to levels that are conducive to natural reproduction if favorable spawning conditions exist.

BLACK CRAPPIE Black crappies were captured at a rate of 9.0 per gill net, which is in the expected range (1.4 per gill net to13.8 per gill net) for lakes similar to Pearl Lake, and at a rate of 2.3 per trap net, which is also in the expected range (1.2 per trap net to 20.5 per trap net) for similar lakes. The 2013 gill net catch rate of 9.0 per gill net was the highest observed gill net catch rate for crappies since surveys began. Historic black crappie catch rates (1988  2013) have been highly variable with gill net catch rates ranging from 0.3 per gill net in 1993 to 9.0 per gill net in 2013 (mean = 3.4 per gill net), and trap net catch rates ranging from 2.3 per trap net in 2013 to 20.4 per trap net in 2001 (mean = 8.8 per trap net). Size structure of black crappies in Pearl Lake was good as black crappies ranged from 3.8 to 12.4 inches in length and averaged 8.7 inches. Sixty-eight percent of crappies sampled were 8 inches or greater in length, 54 percent were 10 inches or greater, and 11 percent were 12 inches or greater. Black crappies appeared to be healthy and were plump, indicating that they are foraging successfully. Overall, Pearl Lake's black crappie population appears to be stable as multiple year classes and sizes are present, with crappies greater than 10 inches in length relatively common. Currently, Pearl Lake has a fishable population of black crappie that should provide some good early spring action when the fish move into the shallows to spawn.


Historical catch rates of yellow perch have been relatively stable, ranging from 26.0 per gill net in 1993 to 37.0 per gill net in 1988 and averaging 32.7 per gill net from 1988 -2013. In 2013, the yellow perch catch rate was within the historical range at 35.0 per gill net, slightly above the long term average for Pearl Lake, and higher than the expected range (2.7 per gill net to 25.0 per gill net) for similar lakes. Yellow perch size structure was good, ranging from 5.0 to 12.3 inches and averaging 9.2 inches. The yellow perch population is dominated by fish larger than 8 inches in length (85 percent). Some larger yellow perch were also present as 29 percent were 10 inches or greater, and 5 percent were 12 inches or greater. Only 11 percent (N=7) of the perch sampled were less than 8 inches in length, indicating that reproduction has been limited in recent years or the smaller perch were not effectively captured by the sampling gears. Yellow perch populations tend to fluctuate and can be driven by occasional strong year classes every 2 to 3 years. Yellow perch were plump indicating that there is sufficient forage available. The Pearl Lake yellow perch population is different in that the variability in historical catch rates is low, indicating a relatively stable population. Good numbers of yellow perch along with the large size structure should provide a respectable perch fishery now and for the next couple of years, barring a winterkill event.

WALLEYE Pearl Lake is managed as a pike/perch fishery, therefore walleye are not a managed species in Pearl Lake, but do occur because of the connection to Loon Lake, which is stocked with walleyes. Walleye catch rates have declined over the years, falling from 23.5 per gill net in 1988 to 12.8 per gill net in 1993 to 6.0 per gill net in 2013. The 2013 walleye catch rate was 6.0 per gill net, which is within the range of expected catch rates for similar lakes (2.3 per gill net to 18.1 per gill net), but below the long term average of 14.1 per gill net. Four year classes of walleyes were sampled, including year classes from 2011 (age-2), 2009 (age-4), 2008 (age-5), and 2004 (age-9). The 2011 year class accounted for 57 percent of the walleyes sampled, and corresponds to a fry stocking event in Loon Lake. Sampled walleyes ranged in length from 12.8 inches to 22.4 inches, and averaged 16.9 inches. Age-2 walleyes averaged 14.5 inches, indicating extremely fast growth. An abundant forage base in the form of yellow perch likely contributes to the fast growth of walleyes. The walleye population in Pearl Lake is dependent on stocking events in neighboring Loon Lake, as natural reproduction within Pearl Lake is minimal. Maintaining a connection between the two water bodies will be important for maintaining the walleye population in Pearl Lake.

BLACK BULLHEAD Black bullhead catch rates have varied in Pearl Lake, ranging from 27.0 per gill net in 1993 to 174.0 per gill net in 1988, and from 12.8 per trap net in 2013 to 1383.2 per trap net in 1988. Both gill net (79.0 per gill net) and trap net (12.8 per trap net) catches fell within the expected catch ranges for similar lakes. The 2013 trap net catch rate of 12.8 was the lowest observed since sampling began on Pearl Lake. Trap netted black bullheads ranged in length from 8.3 to 15.3 inches and averaged 11.1 inches. At times when other forage fish such as yellow perch are scarce, small black bullheads can be the main food source for predators such as walleye and northern pike.

OTHER SPECIES Channel catfish were first sampled in Pearl Lake in the 2001 survey when they were captured at a rate of 0.2 per trap net. Abundance increased slightly in 2013 as channel catfish catch rates were 0.5 per trap net and 3.0 per gill net. Channel catfish ranged in length from 15.0 to 27.1 inches and averaged 21.3 inches.

Bluegills have occurred in low abundance (less than 0.6 per trap net) since the 1988 survey. That trend continued in 2013, as bluegills were captured at a rate of 1.0 per trap net. The low catch rate was expected, as bluegills thrive in lakes that have relatively clear water and abundant aquatic vegetation, both habitat qualities not characteristic of Pearl Lake. The size of the few bluegills that were present was good ranging from 3.4 to 9.0 inches and averaging 7.2 inches.

Bigmouth buffalo were abundant, with trap net (3.5 per trap net) and gill net (6.0 per gill net) catch rates being high when compared to similar lakes. Trap netted bigmouth buffalo ranged in size from 13.8 to 26.5 inches and averaged 19.0 inches.

Other species sampled include two freshwater drum, one white sucker, 18 common carp, one largemouth bass, one shortnose gar, and one yellow bullhead.

Shoreline areas on the land and into the shallow water provide essential habitat for fish and wildlife that live in or near Minnesota's lakes. Overdeveloped shorelines cannot support the fish, wildlife, and clean water that are associated with natural undeveloped lakes. Shoreline habitat consists of aquatic plants, woody plants, and natural lake bottom soils.

Plants in the water and at the water's edge provide habitat, prevent erosion, and absorb excess nutrients. Shrubs, trees, and woody debris such as fallen trees or limbs provide good habitat both above and below the water and should be left in place. By leaving a buffer strip of natural vegetation along the shoreline, property owners can reduce erosion, help maintain or improve water quality, and provide habitat and travel corridors for wildlife.

Best management practices within the watershed (no-till farming, cover crops, buffer strips, targeted fertilizer application, reduced or metered tiling) would help reduce nutrients entering the lake. High nutrient and sediment input can cause algae blooms and reduce overall water quality. Any improvements in the watershed are likely to have positive impacts on the fishery.

Prepared by Jonah Dagel

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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    Toll-free: (800) 652-9093