Lake information report

printer friendly version

Name: Fox

Nearest Town: Sherburn
Primary County: Martin
Survey Date: 09/04/2012
Inventory Number: 46010900
Buy your walleye stamp todayPurchase a walleye stamp. Your voluntary contribution will be used to support walleye stocking.

Public Access Information

Ownership Type Description
Private Property Concrete Fox Lake Club access on east end of lake. 103N 32W S34
DNR Concrete State access on the NE end of lake. 103N 32W S34

Lake Characteristics

Lake Area (acres): 951.02
Littoral Area (acres): 780
Maximum Depth (ft): 20
Water Clarity (ft): 3.2 (1.8-10.5)

Dominant Bottom Substrate: N/A
Abundance of Aquatic Plants: N/A
Maximum Depth of Plant Growth (ft): 3.6 (0-5.7)

Did you know? There are 15,000 miles of fishable streams in Minnesota, including 2,600 miles of trout streams.

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 0.06 0.2 - 0.8 0.11 2.5 - 5.7
Gill net 0.67 0.3 - 1.7 3.23 N/A
Black Bullhead Trap net 0.12 0.7 - 25.7 0.70 0.3 - 0.6
Gill net 1.00 2.5 - 45.0 0.87 0.3 - 0.7
Black Crappie Trap net 10.44 1.8 - 21.2 0.47 0.2 - 0.3
Gill net 20.00 2.5 - 16.5 0.39 0.1 - 0.3
Bluegill Trap net 5.69 7.5 - 62.5 0.25 0.1 - 0.3
Gill net 2.33 N/A 0.19 N/A
Channel Catfish Trap net 0.12 N/A 4.30 N/A
Gill net 4.50 N/A 5.74 N/A
Common Carp Trap net 0.88 0.4 - 2.0 4.79 2.6 - 6.0
Gill net 2.33 0.3 - 3.0 5.76 1.9 - 5.2
Freshwater Drum Trap net 6.88 0.5 - 4.2 1.21 0.4 - 1.2
Gill net 42.67 4.0 - 32.3 1.04 0.3 - 1.1
Golden Shiner Trap net 0.19 0.2 - 0.8 0.07 0.1 - 0.1
Gill net 0.67 0.3 - 1.5 0.10 0.1 - 0.1
Green Sunfish Trap net 0.06 0.2 - 1.3 0.26 0.1 - 0.2
Hybrid Sunfish Trap net 0.06 N/A 0.79 N/A
Largemouth Bass Trap net 0.19 0.2 - 0.7 0.73 0.2 - 0.9
Gill net 0.50 0.3 - 0.8 1.48 0.4 - 1.0
Muskellunge Trap net 0.06 0.4 - 0.5 8.05 1.5 - 7.0
Gill net 0.17 0.2 - 1.0 14.39 1.9 - 4.0
Walleye Trap net 1.38 0.3 - 1.2 1.05 0.8 - 2.8
Gill net 3.50 1.2 - 6.3 1.04 1.2 - 2.7
White Crappie Trap net 6.44 0.5 - 6.6 0.38 0.2 - 0.4
Gill net 9.00 0.7 - 10.4 0.30 0.2 - 0.3
Yellow Bullhead Gill net 0.17 0.5 - 7.5 0.78 0.5 - 0.8
Yellow Perch Trap net 1.25 0.3 - 1.7 0.31 0.1 - 0.2
Gill net 80.50 2.0 - 27.9 0.25 0.1 - 0.2
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 2 2 0 0 0 0 1 0 5
black bullhead 0 0 4 4 0 0 0 0 8
black crappie 16 163 87 7 0 0 0 0 287
bluegill 55 45 1 0 0 0 0 0 105
channel catfish 0 0 0 0 1 9 18 0 29
common carp 0 3 0 0 10 11 3 1 28
freshwater drum 9 9 43 216 80 1 0 0 366
golden shiner 3 4 0 0 0 0 0 0 7
green sunfish 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 1
hybrid sunfish 0 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 1
largemouth bass 1 1 1 3 0 0 0 0 6
muskellunge 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 2 2
walleye 0 0 7 14 20 0 0 0 43
white crappie 11 88 57 0 0 0 0 0 157
yellow bullhead 0 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 1
yellow perch 0 398 97 0 0 0 0 0 503

For the record, the largest Rock Bass (tie) taken in Minnesota weighed 2 lbs. and was caught:

    Where: Lake Osakis, Todd County
    When: 5/10/98
    Statistics: 13.5" length, 12.5" girth

Fish Stocking Activity

Fish Stocked by Species for the Last Ten Years

Year Species Size Number Pounds
2013 Walleye 79,066 57.0
  Walleye fingerlings 16,951 737.0
  Walleye fingerlings 2,300 100.0
  Walleye 23,688 33.0
2012 Muskellunge fingerlings 527 98.8
2011 Walleye 113,943 43.3
2010 Muskellunge* yearlings 250 120.2
  Walleye 117,159 61.5
2009 Walleye* fingerlings 10,185 780.0
2008 Muskellunge* fingerlings 520 36.5
  Walleye* fingerlings 8,103 780.0
2007 Walleye fingerlings 8,993 822.0
2006 Muskellunge* fingerlings 520 43.3
  Walleye fingerlings 14,160 708.0
  Walleye yearlings 370 74.0
2005 Walleye* fingerlings 8,580 780.0
2004 Muskellunge* fingerlings 572 110.6
  Walleye* fingerlings 29,507 780.0

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.

Fish Consumption Guidelines

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

County, DOWID
Species Meal Advice Contaminants
Unrestricted 1 meal/week 1 meal/month Do not eat
Martin Co., 46010900
Bluegill Sunfish All sizes        
Carp All sizes        
Channel Catfish All sizes        
Crappie   All sizes     Mercury
Walleye   All sizes     Mercury

General Population

County, DOWID
Species Meal Advice Contaminants
Unrestricted 1 meal/week 1 meal/month Do not eat
Martin Co., 46010900
Bluegill Sunfish All sizes        
Carp All sizes        
Channel Catfish All sizes        
Crappie 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 09/04/2012)


Fox Lake is a 1,041acre lake located in south-central Minnesota near the city of Sherburn in Martin County along the I-90 corridor. Fox Lake has a maximum depth of 20 feet, but most of the lake is 15 feet or less. Fox Lake has a small surrounding landscape that directly contributes runoff water supply to the lake (also called a watershed). Watershed improvements have allowed for the return of aquatic vegetation which is good for in lake fish habitat. Water clarity is improving with the ability to see down nearly 2.5 feet in the middle of the lake in the summer when other area lakes have very dense algae blooms causing water clarity of less than several inches. A Martin County Soil and Watershed District led program started in 2012 is focused on further improving watershed conditions for Fox Lake as well other Martin County Lakes. Improvements in the watershed for Fox Lake will continue to show up as improvements in water quality and clarity within the lake that will ultimately lead to healthier conditions for the fish community.

Like many lakes in southern Minnesota, Fox Lake is managed primarily for walleye and secondarily for black and white crappie. However, Fox Lake is unique because it is managed for muskellunge and is the southernmost muskellunge lake in the state, which provides a very unique angling opportunity. In addition, Fox Lake has been surveyed every year since 1991, which has provided an exceptional dataset to detect changes in the fish population that will help the DNR to quickly adjust our management decisions. Finally, unlike many lakes in southern Minnesota, Fox Lake has never been aerated during the winter and provides a more stable dissolved oxygen profile during winter when compared to other area lakes. Ultimately, Fox Lake has proven to be a valuable and unique resource in southern Minnesota for local and regional anglers, general recreational users, and for the local economy.


Forty-three walleye were caught in 2012. The gill net catch rate of 3.5 fish per net was considered normal for Fox Lake while the trap net catch rate of 1.4 fish per net was higher than it has been in the past. Walleye gill net and trap net catch rates have fluctuated irregularly since the heydays of high catch rates in the early 1990's (1991 to 1994). The long-term DNR management goal of 6.0 walleye per gill net has not been reached yet so future intensive stocking of walleye frylings will continue. Frylings are 2 month old fish that are stocked in June at a size of 2 to 3 inches long. Frylings tend to have higher survival than just hatched walleye fry that are usually stocked in the spring. While the catch rate is still below the long-term management goal, the size structure of the walleye population is improving. Last year during the 2011 survey only 4% of the walleye caught were larger than 15 inches. Contrast that to this year's survey when 49% of the walleye caught were larger than 15 inches. The walleye in the 2012 sample ranged in length from 11 to 17 inches and the average size was 14.5 inches. The overall condition of the walleye in the sample was good with a slight decline to fair condition as the fish length increased. While there was a decline from good to fair condition, it did not appear to negative impact growth of the walleye in Fox Lake. The walleye in Fox Lake reach nearly 14 inches by age 3 and thus harvestable after only 3 years of growth. Overall, the walleye population appears to be reaching equilibrium with more large fish in the population. Continued walleye stocking should help to improve the size structure of the walleye population as it appears to be helping with fryling having been stocked since 2010.


Muskellunge (nicknamed muskie) have been stocked into Fox Lake starting in 1999 with subsequent stockings in 2001, 2004, 2006, 2008, 2010, and 2012. No natural reproduction of muskie has been documented in Fox Lake so all fish present are from stocking. Muskie in the lake are now ages 3, 4, 6, 8, 11, and 15. Muskies over 10 years old have the ability to reach trophy size so potential exists for the Fox Lake muskie population to have trophy individuals present in the lake. In 2012 only 2 muskie were caught with 1 in the gill nets and 1 in the trap nets. Muskie are not effectively sampled with gill nets and standard trap nets. Therefore, in 2011 a long-term muskie study was started focusing on obtaining information leading to a population estimate that will help determine the ideal stocking rate for Fox Lake. Large-frame trap nets were used in 2011 and 2012 in the spring to capture muskie. In 2011, 140 muskie were caught over 2 weeks in May. The muskie ranged in length from 15 to 49 inches with an average length of 42 inches. In 2012, 45 muskie were caught over 3 weeks in April and May. The muskie ranged in length from 31 to 49 inches with an average length of 42 inches. Initial estimates from the long-term study suggest the adult muskie population (fish over 34 inches) has somewhere between 159 to 261 fish with 95% statistical confidence. This indicates the population is doing well and many large muskies are present in the lake.


Two species of crappie are present in Fox Lake, Black crappie and White crappie. The catch rates of black crappie were 20.0 fish per gill net and 10.4 fish per trap net and the catch rates of white crappie were 9.0 fish per gill net and 6.4 fish per trap net. However, catch rates of crappie are not good indicators of how well the population is doing. Crappie catch rates tend to vary widely from year to year and even from season to season. Usually, the population length distribution is more indicative of the overall health of the population. Black crappie ranged in size from 3 to 14 inches with an average length of 8 inches and 48% of the black crappie were larger than 8 inches. White crappie ranged in size from 4 to 12 inches with an average size of 9 inches and 68% of the white crappie were larger than 8 inches. Overall, it is safe to say that the crappie populations have balanced size structures with many larger fish present.


Yellow perch in Fox Lake are the main forage for the walleye and muskie populations. The 2012 gill net catch rate was 80.5 fish per net which is the highest on record. The size of yellow perch in the 2012 sample ranged from 6 to 11 inches with an average of 8 inches. This range of sizes should be adequate as a forage base. A large yellow perch population that has many fish across a wide range of lengths will increase the chances of sustaining large walleye and muskellunge populations.


Other species of fish caught in the 2012 survey were bigmouth buffalo, black bullhead, bluegill, channel catfish, common carp, freshwater drum, golden shiner, green sunfish, hybrid sunfish, largemouth bass, and yellow bullhead. Of the species listed above, bluegill, channel catfish, and freshwater drum are the most significant contributors to the fish community. Since 2010 bluegill have become more abundant in Fox Lake, which is coincident with the return of large mats of aquatic vegetation and improved water quality and clarity. The size structure of the population is fair with fish ranging in length from 4 to 9 inches with an average size of 6 inches. As the bluegill population becomes further established it should become a larger contributor to the forage base along with yellow perch and become a considerable component of the nearshore fish community in the lake creating a new fishing opportunity for bank anglers. Channel catfish are doing very well in Fox Lake and currently range in length from 18 to 25 inches with an average weight of 5.5 pounds. The abundant channel catfish population is the suspected reason why the bullhead population is not as prevalent as is has been in the past due to predation and competition for common resources in a similar niche. Finally, the freshwater drum are the most prevalent rough fish in the population with a gill net catch rate of 42.7 fish per net. Freshwater drum ranged in length from 6 to 22 inches with an average of 13 inches. With an abundant muskellunge and growing walleye population, freshwater drum will increasingly become important as forage for larger muskellunge and big walleye.


Overall, the Fox Lake fish community appears to be doing well with a diverse fish community that is seeing improvements in managed fish species abundance and size distribution as well as increases in forage species such as yellow perch, bluegill, and even freshwater drum. Further Improvements in the lake for the fish community should focus on best management practices in the watershed. Improvements and education in land stewardship will often have benefits to the lake in the way of quality and quantity of habitat. Generally, improvements in the quality and quantity of lake habitat will directly result in improvements for the fish community. Fox Lake appears to be displaying the benefits of an improved watershed health over the past 10 years by way of a great fish community.

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
To order, use D0266 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

Tip Logo    Turn in Poachers (TIP):

    Toll-free: (800) 652-9093