Fisheries Lake Survey

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Name: South Farm

Nearest Town: Ely
Primary County: Lake
Survey Date: 06/13/2012
Inventory Number: 38077800
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Public Access Information

Ownership Type Description
US Forest Service Carry-In 0.8 mi. beyond end of Kawishiwi Trail (Co. Rd. 16) This becomes a dirt road ending at southwest most bay of South Farm.
DNR Channel West side of South Farm - Navigable channel from Farm Lk.

Fishing Regulations:

Special and/or Experimental Fishing Regulations exist on this lake. Please refer to our online Minnesota Fishing Regulations.

Lake Characteristics

Lake Area (acres): 563.98
Littoral Area (acres): 360
Maximum Depth (ft): 30
Water Clarity (ft): 5.5 (5-6)

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

Did you know? Minnesota has 11,482 lakes 10 acres or larger, of which 5,483 are fishing lakes. Excluding Lake Superior, the state has 3.8 million acres of fishing water. Minnesota's portion of Lake Superior is 1.4 million acres.

Fish Sampled for the 2012 Survey Year


Gear Used

Number of fish per net

Average Fish Weight (lbs)

Normal Range (lbs)


Normal Range

Black Crappie Trap net 1.58 1.6 - 3.3 0.62 0.2 - 0.7
Gill net 1.00 0.2 - 1.4 0.49 0.2 - 0.5
Bluegill Trap net 7.00 0.8 - 8.7 0.19 0.1 - 0.3
Gill net 2.83 N/A 0.18 N/A
Golden Shiner Trap net 0.17 N/A ND N/A
Northern Pike Trap net 1.42 N/A 4.30 N/A
Gill net 1.83 1.2 - 3.6 3.02 1.9 - 3.6
Rock Bass Trap net 0.08 0.3 - 1.0 0.31 0.2 - 0.3
Smallmouth Bass Gill net 1.00 0.3 - 0.7 1.62 0.5 - 1.3
Tullibee (cisco) Gill net 14.17 1.8 - 12.4 0.29 0.2 - 0.5
Walleye Trap net 0.58 0.3 - 1.3 2.00 0.5 - 1.4
Gill net 8.00 3.1 - 9.8 0.65 0.7 - 1.3
White Sucker Trap net 0.17 0.3 - 3.0 4.24 1.8 - 2.8
Gill net 6.33 2.8 - 6.7 1.36 1.3 - 2.0
Yellow Perch Trap net 3.08 0.4 - 1.9 0.18 0.1 - 0.3
Gill net 5.00 1.9 - 7.1 0.13 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 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
black crappie 2 4 18 1 0 0 0 0 25
bluegill 52 46 0 0 0 0 0 0 101
golden shiner 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 2
northern pike 0 0 0 1 2 15 5 4 28
rock bass 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 1
smallmouth bass 0 0 1 4 1 0 0 0 6
tullibee (cisco) 1 60 21 3 0 0 0 0 85
walleye 0 18 13 11 9 2 2 0 55
white sucker 0 5 9 9 13 4 0 0 40
yellow perch 32 29 6 0 0 0 0 0 67

For the record, the largest River Carpsucker taken in Minnesota weighed 3 lbs., 15 oz. and was caught:

    Where: Mississippi River, Ramsey County
    When: 3/9/91
    Statistics: 19.5" length, 14" girth

Fish Stocking Activity

Fish Stocked by Species for the Last Ten Years

Year Species Size Number Pounds
2015 Walleye2 fingerlings 10,440 360.0
2013 Walleye2 fingerlings 10,077 360.0
2011 Walleye2 fingerlings 6,480 360.0
2009 Walleye1 fingerlings 8,286 359.8

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 06/13/2012)

South Farm Lake is a 618 acre lake located about 5 miles southeast of Winton, MN. South Farm is located entirely within the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness. Access is via a navigable channel from Farm Lake or by paddling down an inlet from the Section 30 Road. South Farm is an entry point into the BWCAW. The US Forest Service maintains two campsites on the lake and there is a 25-hp motor restriction on the lake.

South Farm along with Garden and Farm Lakes make up the Garden Lake Reservoir. There is a dam located at the outlet of Garden Lake that discharges into Fall Lake. This dam, owned by Minnesota Power, impounds the reservoir and is used to generate hydropower.

The lakes of the Garden Lake Reservoir are managed primarily for their walleye and northern pike fisheries. A population assessment was conducted on Farm Lake during the summer of 2012 to determine the status of the fish community, the effectiveness of walleye fingerling stocking (1.0 lb/littoral acre biennially)and protected length limit (protected length limit of 17-26" with one over 26" in possession) and the impacts of a northern pike special regulation (protected length limit of 24-36" with one over 36" in possession).

Walleye made up 20% of the 2012 South Farm Lake gill-net catch by number and 19% by weight. Abundance in the gill-net catch (8.0/net) was the highest recorded since the intial survey in 1965. Abundance was above average for lakes in the same classification as South Farm. Walleye lengths in the catch ranged from 7.2 to 25.3 inches but generally were small with an average length of 11.4 inches. Seventy-seven percent of the catch was from years in which fingerling stocking occurred. Growth of South Farm Lake walleye was slow.

Because the Garden Lake Reservoir is an open system, fingerling stocking was evaluated concurrently for all three lakes. The results of the evaluation showed that walleye cohorts from years that were fingerling stocked contributed approximately 50% more to assessment catches than those cohorts from years in which no stocking occurred.

A special regulation was implemented for walleye in 2006 on the Garden Lake Reservoir requiring the immediate release of fish between 17 and 26 inches. One walleye over 26 inches is allowed in possession. The two assessments that have occurred since 2006 indicate that this regulation has met the goal of increasing abundance of walleye greater than 17 inches. The average gill-net catch of walleye greater than 17 inches from 2008-2012 was 0.93/net. The 1991-2004 average was 0.30. This represents a tripling in the number of walleye over 17 inches. In addition, the number of walleye over 26 inches has doubled.

Northern pike gill-net abundance in South Farm Lake in 2012 (1.8/net) was greater than the longterm average since 1965 (1.3/net). Pike abundance in South Farm Lake has typically been below average compared to other lakes in the same classification. Pike sampled during this assessment ranged from 20.9 to 27.8 inches with a mean of 23.8 inches. Previous assessments have reported maximum size as high as 42.3 inches.

Evaluation of the northern pike length regulation also included all the lakes of the reservoir. The special regulation on pike went into effect in 2003 and requires the immediate release of pike between 24 and 36 inches with one over 36 inches allowed in possession. The goal of the northern pike regulation was to increase the overall abundance of northern pike in the reservoir and specifically to increase the abundance of pike over 24 inches. The evaluation indicated that the special regulation appears to have attained its goal. The catch rate of pike over 24 inches increased from 0.38/net in 1991-1999 to 0.86/net in 2004-2012.

The cisco gill-net abundance in 2012 (14.2/net) was equal to the historic average for South Farm Lake. Generally, cisco abundance in South Farm Lake has been decreasing. The average gill-net abundance from 1965-1989 was 24.1/net however, since 1989 the average abundance was 6.6/net. Declining cisco abundance in Area lakes is not uncommon and may be related to increases in predator populations, rainbow smelt invasions or loss of habitat.

Smallmouth bass gill-net abundance was 1.0/net in 2012. The historic average for South Farm Lake was 0.3/net. No bass were caught in the lake prior to 1981. Gill-net catches of bass can be highly variable however, it does appear as if abundance in this lake is increasing.

The bluegill trap-net catch (7.0/net) was below the historic average for South Farm Lake but still exceeded the median for lakes in the same classification as South Farm. The bluegill catch was dominated by small, presumably two year old fish. Lengths ranged from 3.0 to 8.6 inches with an average of 5.4 inches. The historic average length is 6.3 inches. Two year olds made up 50% of the total bluegill catch and six year olds contributed an additional 25%.

The black crappie catch in 2012 was relatively low (1.6/net) compared to the average (2.8/net) for this lake. The size structure of the population favored good sized fish ranging from 5.5 to 13.1 inches. Sixty-eight percent of the crappie's caught during the assessment were larger than 10 inches in length.

Other species present during the 2012 survey included rock bass, yellow perch and white sucker. No rusty crayfish, a non-native species, were captured during the assessment in spite of their presence in neighboring Farm Lake. Rusty crayfish have had significant negative impacts on fish habitat in other Area lakes where they are present.

For more information on this lake, contact:

Area Fisheries Supervisor
650 Hwy 169
Tower, MN 55790
Phone: (218) 753-2580
Internet: Tower 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 C1763 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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