Fisheries Lake Survey

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Nearest Town: OTTERTAIL, MN
Primary County: Otter Tail
Survey Date: 09/07/2004
Inventory Number: 56-0242-00
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Public Access Information

Ownership Type Description

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): 13,725.00
Littoral Area (acres): 6,468.00
Maximum Depth (ft): 120.00
Water Clarity (ft): 10.50

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

Did you know? Each year, the MinnAqua program teaches youth and families across Minnesota about aquatic biology, fishing, and conservation..

Fish Sampled up to the 2004 Survey Year


Gear Used

Number of fish per net

Average Fish Weight (lbs)

Normal Range (lbs)


Normal Range

Bluegill Gill net trace N/A - N/A 0.51 N/A - N/A
Brown Bullhead Gill net 0.3 0.1 - 0.6 1.46 0.6 - 1.2
Common Carp Gill net trace 0.0 - 2.3 4.91 2.3 - 10.8
Lake Sturgeon Gill net 0.5 N/A - N/A 3.38 N/A - N/A
Northern Pike Gill net 3.2 0.9 - 4.3 2.88 2.4 - 4.3
Pumpkinseed Sunfish Gill net 0.3 N/A - N/A 0.20 N/A - N/A
Rock Bass Gill net 1.6 0.1 - 1.1 0.61 0.3 - 0.6
Shorthead Redhorse Gill net 1.0 0.1 - 0.9 2.13 0.9 - 2.5
Smallmouth Bass Gill net trace 0.0 - 0.2 2.92 0.8 - 1.5
Tullibee (Cisco) Gill net 1.7 4.9 - 17.6 0.58 0.4 - 0.5
Walleye Gill net 14.5 3.3 - 14.8 0.94 0.9 - 1.5
White Sucker Gill net 3.1 0.8 - 2.4 2.56 1.6 - 2.1
Yellow Bullhead Gill net 1.8 0.1 - 1.1 1.20 0.6 - 1.1
Yellow Perch Gill net 66.6 9.9 - 57.1 0.18 0.2 - 0.3
Normal Ranges represent typical catches for lakes with similar physical and chemical characteristics.

Length of Selected Species Sampled for All Gear for the 2004 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
Bluegill 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 1
Brown Bullhead 0 0 0 6 0 0 0 0 6
Lake Sturgeon 0 0 0 0 0 1 8 1 10
Northern Pike 0 0 0 0 8 37 17 1 63
Pumpkinseed Sunfish 2 3 0 0 0 0 0 0 5
Rock Bass 4 9 18 0 0 0 0 0 31
Smallmouth Bass 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 1
Tullibee (Cisco) 0 1 25 8 0 0 0 0 34
Walleye 0 31 100 80 59 17 2 0 289
Yellow Bullhead 0 0 16 18 1 0 0 0 35
Yellow Perch 108 743 67 0 0 0 0 0 918

For the record, the largest Freshwater Drum (Sheepshead) taken in Minnesota weighed 35 lbs., 3.2 oz. and was caught:

    Where: Mississippi River near Winona
    When: 10/5/99
    Statistics: 36" length, 31" girth

Fish Stocking Activity

Fish Stocked by Species for the Last Ten Years

Year Species Size Number Pounds
2015 Lake Sturgeon fingerlings 3,060 84.8
  Walleye fry 6,658,000 54.0
2014 lake sturgeon fingerlings 4,100 53.8
  walleye fry 5,658,000 48.1
2013 Lake Sturgeon fingerlings 1,000 12.0
  Walleye fry 3,658,000 30.0
2012 Lake Sturgeon fingerlings 4,000 58.3
  Walleye fry 11,458,000 95.9
2011 Lake Sturgeon fingerlings 1,044 47.0
  Walleye fry 5,258,000 45.2
2010 Lake Sturgeon fingerlings 6,001 203.0
  Walleye fry 4,658,010 37.7
2009 Lake Sturgeon fingerlings 1,503 39.5
  Walleye fry 3,895,016 32.9
2008 Lake Sturgeon fingerlings 17,080 436.0
  Walleye fry 942,880 8.0
2007 Lake Sturgeon fingerlings 1,000 50.0
  Walleye fry 8,011,410 66.2
2006 Lake Sturgeon fingerlings 4,000 222.2
  Walleye fry 4,257,000 34.1

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 09/07/2004)

Located in the heart of Otter Tail County is Otter Tail Lake, the largest lake in the county at 13,728 surface acres. Otter Tail Lake is part of the Otter Tail River chain of lakes. Rush, Big Pine, and Little Pine Lakes are located upstream and Deer, East Lost, and West Lost lakes are located downstream. Primary inlets are the Otter Tail River along the north shoreline and the Dead River along the northwest shoreline. The Otter Tail River outlet is located along the southwest shoreline. Otter Tail Lake has a maximum depth of 120 feet; however, 57% of the lake is less than 15 feet in depth. The majority of the lake is surrounded by residential and commercial development. Public water accesses are located on the north, northeast, and southwest shorelines. The shoreline substrates of Otter Tail Lake consist primarily of sand interspersed with gravel. The lake contains large, shallow flats along most of its perimeter before the first break into deeper water. Areas of submersed aquatic vegetation are present in the lake. A few remnant stands of hardstem bulrush remain and are primarily adjacent to the undeveloped parcels. These areas are important components to the lake. They provide valuable fish and wildlife habitat during all stages of life and are critical for maintaining good water quality. Bulrush beds are natural shoreline stabilizers, reducing erosion caused from wave action and they can even absorb pollutants from the water. Because of their ecological value, bulrush may not be removed without a DNR permit. Otter Tail is a very popular lake for both open water and winter angling. It is known primarily as a walleye lake and is one of the few lakes in the area that supports a yellow perch fishery. A 1994-1995 summer/winter creel survey noted that 82% of summer anglers and 60% of ice anglers were targeting walleye. Winter anglers sought yellow perch more than summer anglers. Summer/winter creel surveys are scheduled for 2006 and 2007 on Otter Tail Lake to get updated information on angler catch rates. Yellow perch are very abundant and exhibit a good size structure. Twenty-one percent of the perch were at least eight inches in length. Northern pike angling is becoming more popular on Otter Tail Lake. Abundance tends to be low; however; the average size is excellent with a good chance of catching one over 30.0 inches in length. An experimental 30-inch minimum length limit for northern pike began on Otter Tail Lake in May, 2003. All pike less than 30.0 inches must be immediately returned to the water. Northern pike spawning habitat is limited in Otter Tail Lake, thus northern pike are stocked occasionally to maintain this population at management goals. Data from fish assessments over the past 20 years shows that walleye and yellow perch are consistently abundant in Otter Tail Lake. Panfish and bass species, although present, are not abundant. Sturgeon, once native to the Otter Tail River system, were stocked in 2001 and 2004. The first sturgeon were sampled from Otter Tail Lake during the 2004 survey and ranged from 24 to 30 inches in length. Approximately 5,000 to 10,000 fingerling lake sturgeon will be stocked annually from 2005 to 2008. The goal is to establish a self-sustaining population. Otter Tail Lake is stocked annually with walleye fry because of walleye egg-take sites operated by the DNR on the Dead and Otter Tail Rivers. Each spring, walleye migrate from Otter Tail Lake up the Otter Tail and Dead Rivers. Walleye are trapped and their eggs stripped for hatching in the State Fish Hatchery. When the eggs hatch, at least 10% of the fry are returned to Otter Tail Lake. Although annual walleye stocking occurs, the excellent walleye population in Otter Tail Lake is maintained by natural reproduction. Data from a 1983 study showed that only 10% of the adult walleye population in Otter Tail Lake makes these river spawning migrations, the remaining 90% spawn in the lake. Anglers can maintain or improve the quality of fishing for all species of fish in Otter Tail Lake by practicing selective harvest. Selective harvest encourages the release of medium to large-size fish while allowing the harvest of the more abundant smaller fish for eating. Releasing medium to large fish will ensure that the lake will have enough spawning age fish and should provide anglers with opportunities to catch more large fish in the future.

For more information on this lake, contact:

Area Fisheries Supervisor
1509 1st Ave N
Fergus Falls, MN 56537
Phone: (218) 739-7576
Internet: Fergus Falls 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 B0225 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