Fisheries Lake Survey

printer friendly version

Name: Sarah

Nearest Town: Garvin
Primary County: Murray
Survey Date: 06/02/2014
Inventory Number: 51006300
Buy your walleye stamp todayPurchase a walleye stamp. Your voluntary contribution will be used to support walleye stocking.

Public Access Information

Ownership Type Description

Lake Characteristics

Lake Area (acres): 1209.25
Littoral Area (acres): 1209.24
Maximum Depth (ft): 11
Water Clarity (ft): 1.8 (1-2.4)

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 2014 Survey Year


Gear Used

Number of fish per net

Average Fish Weight (lbs)

Normal Range (lbs)


Normal Range

Black Bullhead Trap net 140.92 1.3 - 78.1 0.25 0.2 - 0.6
Gill net 125.00 4.6 - 83.0 0.22 0.2 - 0.6
Black Crappie Trap net 0.92 1.0 - 12.3 1.02 0.2 - 0.5
Brown Bullhead Gill net 0.50 0.6 - 7.7 0.36 0.4 - 1.1
Common Carp Trap net 1.58 0.7 - 5.1 8.11 2.3 - 5.6
Walleye Gill net 10.25 3.2 - 15.3 4.35 0.9 - 1.9
White Crappie Trap net 0.08 0.5 - 15.9 1.39 0.2 - 0.5
White Sucker Gill net 1.00 0.8 - 5.9 1.95 1.4 - 2.2
Yellow Bullhead Trap net 0.17 0.5 - 4.1 1.10 0.4 - 0.8
Gill net 0.25 0.3 - 3.6 0.55 0.5 - 0.9
Yellow Perch Trap net 1.75 0.3 - 2.6 0.17 0.1 - 0.3
Gill net 7.75 3.0 - 22.5 0.16 0.1 - 0.4
Normal Ranges represent typical catches for lakes with similar physical and chemical characteristics.

Length of Selected Species (Trapnet, Gillnet) Sampled for the 2014 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 bullhead 12 2138 6 30 1 0 0 0 2187
black crappie 2 0 1 8 0 0 0 0 11
brown bullhead 0 0 2 0 0 0 0 0 2
common carp 0 0 0 0 1 6 10 2 19
walleye 0 0 0 1 3 34 3 0 41
white crappie 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 0 1
white sucker 0 0 0 0 4 0 0 0 4
yellow bullhead 0 0 2 1 0 0 0 0 3
yellow perch 0 49 0 0 0 0 0 0 49

For the record, the largest Hybrid Sunfish taken in Minnesota weighed 1 lb., 12 oz. and was caught:

    Where: Middle Branch of the Zumbro River, Olmsted County
    When: 7/9/94
    Statistics: 11.5" length, 12" girth

Fish Stocking Activity

Fish Stocked by Species for the Last Ten Years

Year Species Size Number Pounds
2015 Walleye fry 95,833 0.8

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 06/02/2014)

INTRODUCTION Lake Sarah is a 1,093-acre lake located approximately 4 miles south of the City of Garvin in Murray County. Lake Sarah has a maximum depth of 11.0 feet and a watershed to lake ratio of 10 to 1. The lake's watershed is highly agricultural and some of the lake's shoreline has been altered by residential development. In areas with residential development, lawns are typically maintained to the water's edge and shorelines are altered with rock rip rap or sand blankets, which disrupt the natural riparian buffer. Agriculture and development in the riparian zone likely account for much of the nutrient load going into Lake Sarah, which causes poor water quality in the lake. During this survey in early June, Lake Sarah had a secchi depth reading of 2.4 feet; however, the water quality declined as the summer progressed. Lake Sarah is managed primarily for Walleye and secondarily for Yellow Perch. Lake Sarah's Walleye population is one of the only Walleye populations in the Windom fisheries management area that is sustained through natural reproduction, as it has not been stocked since 1991. A recent genetics study found that Lake Sarah's Walleye are unique to the Cannon River in east-central Minnesota, which was used as an egg source decades ago. The study suggested that this "Cannon River strain" of Walleye has persisted in some southern waters despite extensive stocking of "Mississippi strain" Walleye. The study suggested that the Cannon River strain of Walleye in Lake Sarah is able to naturally reproduce, thereby creating a self-sustaining population. A population assessment was conducted the week of June 2, 2014 to monitor fish populations using four gill nets and 12 trap nets.

WALLEYE Walleye catch rates in Lake Sarah have varied from 4.0 per gill net in 1984 to 77.5 per gill net in 1993. In 2014, Walleye were captured at a rate of 10.3 per gill net, which is significantly lower than the long term average of catch rates (32.4 per gill net) and the 2010 catch rate of 45.5 per gill net, but is within the expected range of catch rates for similar lakes (3.2 to 15.3 per gill net). Despite the lower than average catch rate, the Walleye population produced a strong year class in 2014 as young-of-the-year Walleye were captured in the fall of 2014at a rate of 244.5 per hour of electrofishing, which is the fourth highest catch rate of YOY Walleye in Lake Sarah. Walleye lengths ranged from 14.9 to 27.8 inches and averaged 22.5 inches. Ninety percent of the Walleye sampled were larger than 20.0 inches in length. A balanced Walleye population will have a wide range of sizes present. Seven year classes of Walleye were sampled including 2011 (age-3), 2010 (age-4), 2009 (age-5), 2008 (age-6), 2005 (age-9), 2004 (age-10), and 2000 (age-14). Despite strong year classes being produced in 2012 (186.7 per hour) and 2013 (290.4 per hour), no age-1 (2013) or age-2 (2012) Walleye were sampled, raising concern that they did not recruit to the fishery; however, during electrofishing in the fall of 2014, several different sizes of adult Walleye were observed, suggesting that our nets may not have effectively sampled the whole Walleye population during this survey. Back calculated average length at age-3 was 16.7 inches, indicating fast growth when compared to growth in similar lakes. The strong 2014 year class should help Lake Sarah's Walleye population rebound within the next couple of years.

YELLOW PERCH The Yellow Perch catch rate declined from 22.5 per gill net in 2010 to 7.8 per gill net in 2014, but was within the expected range of catch rates for similar lakes (3.0 to 22.5 per gill net). Yellow Perch have not been stocked in Lake Sarah, suggesting that the population sustains itself through natural reproduction. Despite being the second lowest catch rate since surveys began, Yellow Perch are abundant enough to reproduce, as 44 YOY Yellow Perch were sampled in a near shore survey conducted in early July 2014. Yellow Perch ranged in length from 6.5 to 8.3 inches and averaged 7.1 inches. Yellow Perch were skinny indicating that prey resources may not be readily available for Yellow Perch in Lake Sarah.

BLACK BULLHEAD Black Bullhead catch rates in 2014 were the highest ever observed in Lake Sarah for both gill nets (125.0 per gill net) and trap nets (140.9 per trap net). The gill net catch rate exceeded the expected range of catch rates for similar lakes (4.6 to 83.0 per gill net) as did the trap net catch rate (1.3 to 78.1 per trap net). Gill netted Black Bullheads ranged in length from 6.4 to 15.2 inches in length and averaged 7.2 inches. Trap netted Black Bullheads ranged in length from 4.2 to 14.7 inches and averaged 7.9 inches. Ninety-eight percent of Black Bullheads sampled ranged from 6.0 to 9.0 inches long, suggesting that one strong year class accounts for most of the bullhead biomass in Lake Sarah. In the 2010 survey, the Black Bullhead population was at an all-time low (5.5 per gill net, 6.8 per trap net), and was dominated by one year class that were 11.0 to 13.5 inches in length. It appears that this year class (sampled in 2010) was able to reproduce and "fill the void" that is now being filled by the 6.0 to 9.0 inch bullheads sampled in 2014. Black Bullhead abundance could be an issue because they are reaching a length that may make them less vulnerable to predation by Walleye.

BLACK CRAPPIE Black Crappie catch rates in 2014 decreased from 2010 catch rates, going from 54.6 per trap net in 2010 to 0.9 per trap net in 2014. The 2014 catch rate of 0.9 per trap net is below the expected range of catch rates for similar lakes (1.0 to 12.3 per trap net). Black Crappies ranged from 4.1 to 13.0 inches in length and averaged 11.0 inches. Black Crappies were very abundant in 2010, with the population consisting of three or four year classes. It is difficult to explain why they were not sampled in the 2014 survey other than the fish were not moving during the week of the survey or a sampling gear bias.

OTHER SPECIES Common Carp abundance has remained relatively unchanged since 1998, as catch rates have not exceeded 1.1 per trap net. The trend continued in 2014 with a catch rate of 1.6 per trap net which is within the expected range of catch rates for similar lakes (0.7 to 5.1 per trap net).

Other species sampled included Brown Bullhead, White Sucker, Yellow Bullhead, and White Crappie.

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
To order, use B0276 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