Fisheries Lake Survey

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Name: Sarah

Nearest Town: Garvin
Primary County: Murray
Survey Date: 06/07/2010
Inventory Number: 51006300

Public Access Information

Ownership Type Description

Lake Characteristics

Lake Area (acres): 1193.51
Littoral Area (acres): 1093
Maximum Depth (ft): 11
Water Clarity (ft): 1.5 (1-2)

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

Did you know? MinnAqua Fishing: Get in the Habitat! has a Minnesota-base activity guide for teachers, scout and 4-H leaders, youth leaders, outdoor sports groups, or anyone interested in teaching others about habitat, stewardship and fishing.

Fish Sampled for the 2010 Survey Year


Gear Used

Number of fish per net

Average Fish Weight (lbs)

Normal Range (lbs)


Normal Range

Bigmouth Buffalo Trap net 0.08 0.2 - 1.5 0.04 1.3 - 5.1
Black Bullhead Trap net 6.75 1.3 - 78.1 1.10 0.2 - 0.6
Gill net 5.50 4.6 - 83.0 1.18 0.2 - 0.6
Black Crappie Trap net 54.58 1.0 - 12.3 0.14 0.2 - 0.5
Gill net 4.50 0.8 - 11.1 0.25 0.2 - 0.4
Brown Bullhead Trap net 0.92 0.4 - 9.8 1.09 0.4 - 0.9
Gill net 1.00 0.6 - 7.7 1.66 0.4 - 1.1
Channel Catfish Trap net 0.08 N/A 10.14 N/A
Common Carp Trap net 0.25 0.7 - 5.1 7.09 2.3 - 5.6
Gill net 0.50 0.5 - 9.1 9.43 1.0 - 4.9
Orangespotted Sunfish Trap net 2.00 N/A 0.03 N/A
Walleye Trap net 0.67 0.3 - 1.7 4.99 0.9 - 2.4
Gill net 45.50 3.2 - 15.3 1.62 0.9 - 1.9
White Sucker Gill net 1.50 0.8 - 5.9 2.55 1.4 - 2.2
Yellow Bullhead Trap net 0.25 0.5 - 4.1 0.90 0.4 - 0.8
Yellow Perch Trap net 2.42 0.3 - 2.6 0.18 0.1 - 0.3
Gill net 22.50 3.0 - 22.5 0.47 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 2010 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 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1
black bullhead 0 0 16 76 0 0 0 0 92
black crappie 406 231 13 6 0 0 0 0 664
brown bullhead 0 0 1 12 0 0 0 0 13
channel catfish 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 1
common carp 0 0 0 0 0 1 3 0 4
orangespotted sunfish 24 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 24
walleye 0 0 7 13 65 10 4 0 99
white sucker 0 0 0 0 3 0 0 0 3
yellow bullhead 0 1 0 2 0 0 0 0 3
yellow perch 20 25 26 3 0 0 0 0 74

For the record, the largest Black Crappie taken in Minnesota weighed 5 lbs. and was caught:

    Where: Vermillion River, Dakota County
    When: 1940
    Statistics: 21" length

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
Murray Co., 51006300
Carp All sizes        
Walleye All sizes        
Yellow Perch All sizes        

General Population

County, DOWID
Species Meal Advice Contaminants
Unrestricted 1 meal/week 1 meal/month Do not eat
Murray Co., 51006300
Carp All sizes        
Walleye All sizes        
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 06/07/2010)

Lake Sarah, near the town of Garvin in Murray County, is a class 41 lake with a maximum depth of 11 feet. Lake Sarah is a 1093 acre lake within the West Des Moines River watershed. Lake Sarah is managed primarily for walleye and secondarily for yellow perch. Lake Sarah is an excellent walleye lake that is solely maintained by a naturally reproducing population. There are only two lakes in the Windom Fisheries Management that are not stocked with walleye due to excellent natural reproduction. Lake Sarah is consistently a top walleye fishing lake in the Windom Fisheries management area. A population assessment was conducted during the week of June 7, 2010 using 2 gill nets and 12 trap nets to assess the fish community.

The walleye catch rate in gill nets was 45.5/set, which is approximately 3 times the normal upper range. The average length of walleye sampled in the gill nets was 16 inches with fish ranging in length from 9 to 24 inches. The majority of the walleye sampled were 14 to 16 inches. The walleye catch rate in trap nets was 0.7/set, which is average for lake class 41. Walleye in the trap nets had a mean length of 24 inches with a range of 15 to 29 inches. The walleye population appears to be made up of larger sized fish. While this may be true, boat mounted electrofishing during the fall indicated a very strong walleye hatch in the spring of 2010. Newly hatched walleye were caught at a rate of 149.5/hour, which is the highest since catch rate since 1996 (183/hour) and the third highest catch rate of newly hatched walleye ever recorded (highest in 1994 at 197/hour). With that said, the population appears to be headed toward a balanced state with the emergence of a very successful 2010 year class. The overall condition of the walleyes captured in all sampling gear was good, indicating the walleye were healthy and foraging successfully. The growth rate of walleye was very good with walleye reaching 9 to 10 inches during their first year of growth and reaching 16 inches by age three. Lake Sarah has not had walleye stocked since 1991 and continues to be and exceptional walleye fishery. There is no question that Lake Sarah should be your destination of choice for walleye fishing in southwestern Minnesota.

The yellow perch catch rate in gill nets (22.5/set) and trap nets (2.4/set) were equal to the upper normal range in 2010. The yellow perch population ranges in length from 6 to 14 inches with an average length of 9 inches (half pound average per fish). The half pound weight average is the highest observed average weight indicating a population with larger individuals. The overall condition was good, which indicates the fish are plump, healthy, and foraging successfully. With yellow perch up to 14 inches found in Lake Sarah, there is always a chance for some great yellow perch fishing.

The black bullhead catches are the lowest since sampling began in 1984. Total lengths of bullhead ranged from 12 to 13 inches with a mean of 12 inches. It appears that the black bullhead population is being dominated by one age group. It is likely that the large walleye population is controlling the bullhead population producing only a few larger black bullheads, which will still produce a respectable bullhead fishery in Lake Sarah.

The black crappie catch rate in trap nets was the highest ever observed at 54.6 fish/net, which was over 4 times the upper normal range. Total lengths ranged from 3 to 13 inches with a mean of 5 inches. Over the past four years there have been 2 large year classes (fish of the same age) black crappie, one year class ranges in length from 3 to 5 inches and the other ranges in length from 7 to 9 inches. The size distribution is good indicating that the black crappie population is in a balanced state. The overall condition of the black crappie was above average indicating a robust population that is eating well. In Lake Sarah there is a chance to catch a large black crappie and the probability of catching a large black crappie will increase as year classes mature.

A total of 11 species of fish were captured during the survey of 2010. Other species captured were bigmouth buffalo, brown bullhead, channel catfish, common carp, orangespotted sunfish, white sucker, and yellow bullhead.

Efforts to improve the health of the lake should focus on best management practices within the watershed (a watershed is all areas that drain into the lake). Improvements and education in land stewardship will often have secondary benefits to the lake in the way of quality and quantity of habitat. Generally, improvements in the quality and quantity of lake habitat will mean direct improvements of the fishery.

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 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

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    Toll-free: (800) 652-9093