Fisheries Lake Survey

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Name: West McDonald

Nearest Town: Vergas
Primary County: Otter Tail
Survey Date: 08/22/2011
Inventory Number: 56038602
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Public Access Information

Ownership Type Description
DNR Concrete A state owned public access is located off of County Road 85 along the southwest shoreline of the lake.


Lake Characteristics

Lake Area (acres): 596.86
Littoral Area (acres): 183
Maximum Depth (ft): 62
Water Clarity (ft): 14.7 (14.1-15.2)

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


Did you know? Lake rehabilitation projects reclaim waters suffering from habitat degradation and overpopulation of some fish species.

Fish Sampled for the 2011 Survey Year

Species

Gear Used

Number of fish per net

Average Fish Weight (lbs)

Normal Range (lbs)

Caught

Normal Range

Black Bullhead Gill net 1.11 0.3 - 1.9 0.54 0.3 - 0.9
Black Crappie Trap net 0.25 0.5 - 2.2 0.69 0.3 - 0.5
Bluegill Trap net 18.25 7.7 - 43.4 0.24 0.1 - 0.2
Gill net 5.33 N/A 0.23 N/A
Brown Bullhead Trap net 0.38 0.3 - 1.0 0.67 0.7 - 1.0
Gill net 13.56 0.3 - 1.8 0.71 0.5 - 1.1
Common Carp Trap net 0.38 0.1 - 0.9 3.61 3.1 - 10.6
Gill net 0.22 0.3 - 7.2 4.33 0.5 - 3.2
Hybrid Sunfish Trap net 0.12 N/A 0.45 N/A
Gill net 0.11 N/A 0.34 N/A
Largemouth Bass Trap net 2.75 0.4 - 1.5 0.21 0.2 - 0.7
Gill net 8.00 0.5 - 1.7 0.59 0.5 - 1.2
Northern Pike Trap net 0.25 N/A 1.55 N/A
Gill net 5.67 2.2 - 8.7 1.99 1.5 - 3.2
Pumpkinseed Trap net 1.88 1.4 - 5.9 0.26 0.1 - 0.2
Gill net 1.22 N/A 0.28 N/A
Rock Bass Trap net 0.50 0.8 - 3.7 0.51 0.2 - 0.4
Gill net 6.56 0.7 - 4.4 0.43 0.2 - 0.4
Walleye Trap net 1.00 0.2 - 0.7 2.72 0.7 - 2.8
Gill net 18.44 1.0 - 5.0 1.71 1.2 - 3.0
White Sucker Gill net 1.67 0.5 - 2.0 2.25 1.6 - 2.6
Yellow Bullhead Trap net 2.38 1.0 - 5.3 0.76 0.5 - 0.9
Gill net 34.44 1.0 - 6.0 0.60 0.4 - 0.7
Yellow Perch Trap net 0.25 0.4 - 2.3 0.06 0.1 - 0.2
Gill net 0.11 1.5 - 13.8 0.15 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 2011 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 0 2 8 0 0 0 0 0 10
black crappie 0 1 1 0 0 0 0 0 2
bluegill 39 151 0 0 0 0 0 0 194
brown bullhead 0 2 92 31 0 0 0 0 125
common carp 0 0 0 0 3 2 0 0 5
hybrid sunfish 0 2 0 0 0 0 0 0 2
largemouth bass 8 32 45 9 0 0 0 0 94
northern pike 0 0 0 0 24 24 4 1 53
pumpkinseed 0 26 0 0 0 0 0 0 26
rock bass 1 51 11 0 0 0 0 0 63
walleye 1 1 30 15 108 16 2 0 174
white sucker 0 1 2 1 8 3 0 0 15
yellow bullhead 2 64 226 37 0 0 0 0 329
yellow perch 2 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 3


For the record, the largest Walleye taken in Minnesota weighed 17 lbs., 8 oz. and was caught:

    Where: Seagull River at Saganaga Lake, Cook County
    When: 5/13/79
    Statistics: 35.8" length, 21.3" girth

Fish Stocking Activity

Fish Stocked by Species for the Last Ten Years

Year Species Size Number Pounds
2013 Walleye* fingerlings 1,500 75.0
2012 Walleye adults 146 187.0
  Walleye yearlings 738 289.0
2011 Walleye* fingerlings 1,500 98.0
2010 Walleye fingerlings 3,664 255.0
  Walleye adults 99 111.0
2009 Walleye* fingerlings 1,000 100.0
2008 Walleye yearlings 1,098 366.0
2007 Walleye* fingerlings 1,000 50.0
2006 Walleye yearlings 260 52.0
  Walleye fingerlings 5,594 314.0
2005 Walleye* fingerlings 1,000 50.0
2004 Walleye yearlings 180 60.0
  Walleye fingerlings 5,570 125.0

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

LAKE NAME
County, DOWID
Species Meal Advice Contaminants
Unrestricted 1 meal/week 1 meal/month Do not eat
WEST MCDONALD
Otter Tail Co., 56038602
Bluegill Sunfish All sizes        
Walleye   All sizes     Mercury

General Population

LAKE NAME
County, DOWID
Species Meal Advice Contaminants
Unrestricted 1 meal/week 1 meal/month Do not eat
WEST MCDONALD
Otter Tail Co., 56038602
Bluegill Sunfish All sizes        
Walleye   All sizes     Mercury

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.

Dioxin
Mercury
PCBS - Polychlorinated biphenyls
PFOS - Perfluorooctane sulfanate


Status of the Fishery (as of 08/22/2011)

West McDonald Lake is located in north-central Otter Tail County approximately four miles south of Vergas, MN. West McDonald Lake is a 573-acre mesotrophic (moderately fertile) lake that is located within the Otter Tail River Watershed. There are no inlets or outlets connected to West McDonald Lake. The immediate watershed is composed of agricultural land interspersed with hardwood woodlots. The maximum depth of West McDonald Lake is 75 feet; however, 32% of the lake is less than 15 feet in depth. The secchi disk reading during the 2011 lake survey was 14.1 feet, which indicates excellent water clarity. Previous secchi disk readings have ranged from 13.6 to 17.1 feet. The majority of the shoreline of West McDonald Lake has been extensively developed. The development is primarily composed of homes and cabins. A DNR owned concrete public water access is located off of County Road 85 along the southwest shoreline of the lake. The shoal water substrates consist of sand and gravel. Small stands of hardstem bulrush and common cattail are scattered along the south and east shorelines of the lake. Emergent aquatic plants such as bulrush and cattail provide valuable fish and wildlife habitat, and are critical for maintaining good water quality. They protect shorelines and lake bottoms, and can actually absorb and break down polluting chemicals. Emergent plants provide spawning areas for fish such as northern pike, largemouth bass, and panfish. They also serve as important nursery areas for all species of fish. Because of their ecological value, emergent plants may not be removed without a DNR permit. To maintain the excellent water quality and angling that this lake has to offer, it is imperative to preserve the quality of the aquatic habitat. West McDonald Lake can be ecologically classified as a bass-panfish type of lake and this is reflected in the assemblage of the fish community. Largemouth bass, walleye, and bluegill are the dominant gamefish species in the fish community. Catch data from recent test-netting and electrofishing assessments indicate that a high-density largemouth bass population exists in West McDonald Lake. Length data from these assessments indicate that the bass population is dominated by small fish. Age data from recent assessments also indicate that bass reproduction levels are consistently high. Growth rate estimates indicate that bass growth is slow, most likely due to the high-density population which increases competition for the available forage. Bass attain an average length of 12.5 inches at six years of age. The bluegill test-net catch rate has remained stable over the recent series of lake surveys; however, the long-term trend has been a decline in bluegill catch rates. The decline in catch rates corresponds with a long-term increase in the average size of bluegill. Forty-two percent of the bluegills were at least 7.0 inches in length. Bluegills attain an average length of 6.6 inches at six years of age. The walleye test-net catch rate was the highest ever recorded for this lake. Walleyes ranged in length from 8.7 to 26.4 inches with an average length and weight of 16.4 inches and 1.7 pounds. The 2009 and 2010 year classes appear to be strong and should provide consistently good walleye angling for several years. Walleyes attain an average length of 14.7 inches at four years of age. Anglers can maintain the quality of fishing 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 table fare. Releasing the medium to large fish will ensure that the lake will have enough spawning age fish on an annual basis and will provide anglers with more opportunities to catch 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
E-Mail: FergusFalls.Fisheries@state.mn.us

Lake maps can be obtained from:

Minnesota Bookstore
660 Olive Street
St. Paul, MN 55155
(651) 297-3000 or (800) 657-3757
No depth map available.


For general DNR Information, contact:

DNR Information Center
500 Lafayette Road
St. Paul, MN 55155-4040
TDD: (651) 296-6157 or (888) MINNDNR
Internet: www.dnr.state.mn.us
E-Mail: info.dnr@state.mn.us

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