Lake information report

printer friendly version

Name: Kabetogama

Nearest Town: Ray
Primary County: St. Louis
Survey Date: 06/12/2012
Inventory Number: 69084500
Buy your walleye stamp todayPurchase a walleye stamp. Your voluntary contribution will be used to support walleye stocking.

Public Access Information

Ownership Type Description
DNR Concrete
National Park Service Concrete
DNR Gravel
National Park Service Concrete
DNR Concrete
DNR Concrete

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): 24034
Littoral Area (acres): 7440
Maximum Depth (ft): 80
Water Clarity (ft): 8.8 (5.6-13.5)

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

Did you know? Spawning habitat improvements can enhance naturally reproducing populations of fish species such as walleye and northern pike.

Fish Sampled for the 2012 Survey Year


Gear Used

Number of fish per net

Average Fish Weight (lbs)

Normal Range (lbs)


Normal Range

Black Crappie Gill net 0.10 0.2 - 0.8 0.09 0.2 - 0.6
Cisco Species Gill net 3.25 N/A 1.19 N/A
Mooneye Gill net 0.05 N/A 0.34 N/A
Northern Pike Gill net 2.25 1.1 - 2.4 2.92 2.8 - 4.3
Redhorse Gill net 0.05 N/A 5.81 N/A
Rock Bass Gill net 1.60 0.6 - 1.6 0.24 0.2 - 0.3
Sauger Gill net 3.35 2.1 - 4.3 0.54 0.3 - 0.5
Shorthead Redhorse Gill net 0.05 0.1 - 1.0 2.35 1.6 - 2.9
Smallmouth Bass Gill net 1.40 0.2 - 0.6 1.15 0.7 - 1.2
Walleye Gill net 9.10 3.6 - 10.8 1.64 0.8 - 1.3
White Sucker Gill net 4.00 1.4 - 3.0 2.31 1.7 - 2.2
Yellow Perch Gill net 16.05 1.4 - 6.8 0.38 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
black crappie 1 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 2
cisco species 0 0 7 34 24 0 0 0 65
mooneye 0 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 1
northern pike 0 0 0 1 24 13 1 6 45
redhorse 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 1
rock bass 16 15 1 0 0 0 0 0 32
sauger 0 5 30 29 3 0 0 0 67
shorthead redhorse 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 1
smallmouth bass 0 3 9 12 4 0 0 0 28
walleye 0 16 21 32 84 28 1 0 182
white sucker 0 0 0 13 63 4 0 0 80
yellow perch 19 157 140 5 0 0 0 0 321

For the record, the largest White Crappie taken in Minnesota weighed 3 lbs., 15 oz. and was caught:

    Where: Lake Constance, Wright County
    When: 7/28/02
    Statistics: 18" length, 16" girth

Fish Stocking Activity

Fish Stocked by Species for the Last Ten Years

Year Species Size Number Pounds
2010 Walleye fry 2,500,000 24.8
2009 Walleye fry 2,000,000 20.0
2008 Walleye fry 2,035,000 20.4

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
St. Louis Co., 69084500
Cisco   All sizes     Mercury
Crappie     All sizes   Mercury
Northern Pike   shorter than 23" 23" or longer   Mercury
Sauger     All sizes   Mercury
Smallmouth Bass     All sizes   Mercury
Walleye   shorter than 19" 19" or longer   Mercury
White Sucker All sizes        
Yellow Perch   All sizes     Mercury

General Population

County, DOWID
Species Meal Advice Contaminants
Unrestricted 1 meal/week 1 meal/month Do not eat
St. Louis Co., 69084500
Cisco All sizes        
Crappie   All sizes     Mercury
Northern Pike   All sizes     Mercury
Sauger   All sizes     Mercury
Smallmouth Bass   All sizes     Mercury
Walleye   All sizes     Mercury
White Sucker 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 06/12/2012)


Twelve fish species were captured during fall gill netting on Lake Kabetogama in 2012. Yellow perch was the most abundant species in the catch making up 39.0 percent of the total by number. Walleye was the second most abundant species adding 22.1 percent to the catch by number. Walleye made up the largest proportion of the total yield comprising 37.1 percent of the total weight of the gill net catch. This year's walleye gill net catch rate of 9.10 was near the median for Lake Kabetogama and higher than the median of all Lake Class 2 lakes. The walleye yield per net for Lake Kabetogama has bounced up and down in the past few years but has hit some of the highest yield numbers since the late 1980s and early 1990s with a recent high in 2012 of 14.91 pounds per net. In fact, since 1986 only 1987, 1988, and 1991 had higher walleye yields than 2012. The catch rate of walleye over 17 inches in length was 4.35 in 2012, the highest rate ever recorded on Lake Kabetogama. This rate was 1.5 times higher than the normal range for Lake Kabetogama (2.89 per net).

Strong year-classes of walleye are not occurring as frequently as they once were in Lake Kabetogama. While at this time we are unsure of the cause, high juvenile mortality appears to be affecting walleye recruitment and therefore production of strong year classes. Abundance of each year class was estimated using catch corrected gill net catch rates at age-one, two, and three. Mortality was then evaluated between years and should not reflect any effects of changes in growth. Examining mortality of juvenile (age-1 to age-3) walleye showed that mortality has significantly increased in recent years. This high juvenile mortality dropped considerably with the 2006 and 2007 year classes but returned to a high rate in 2008 before dropping again with the 2009 year-class. In fact, the 2007 year class experienced the lowest juvenile mortality on record through age-3. The 2006 year class was a very strong year class while the 2007 year class initially appeared promising but has not shown up in the gill nets in high numbers in recent years and now appears to be a weak year class (Figure 8). Juvenile mortality of the 2008 year class was higher and similar to year classes in the early 2000s and is also a weak year class. The 2009 year-class appears to be very weak but exhibited a lower mortality rate and was within the range observed in the mid-1990s.

Lengths of gill net captured walleye ranged from 6.4 to 25.6 inches. The average length was 15.8 inches, and the average weight was 1.65 pounds. Walleye growth has remained relatively consistent over time. However, the observed length at capture in 2012 was lower than previous surveys for age-6 through age-9 fish.

Sixteen age groups from age 0 to age 18 were present in the walleye catch. The average age was 5.2 years. Age-6 walleye from the 2006 year class comprised 24.2 percent of the total walleye catch. Age-1 and age-2 walleye made up an additional 11.2 and 15.8 percent of the catch, respectively. The 2006 and 2001cohorts were the only two strong year-classes produced in the recent past.

Female spawner biomass estimates from a model that uses gill net catch rates to estimate biomass were made back to 1983 to allow for stock-recruit analysis of the entire large lake data set. Female spawning stock biomass has shown normal fluctuations during the past 24 years. Female spawner stock biomass has fluctuated between 0.9 and 1.8 pounds per acre from 1983 through 2005. In 2006 the female spawner biomass exceeded 2.0 pounds per acre for the first time; the 2006 estimate was 2.03 lbs/acre, a new record on Lake Kabetogama. In 2007 and 2008, the female spawner biomass dropped slightly but was still above the average from 1989 to the present. Female spawner biomass in 2009 dropped precipitously to 0.94 lbs/acre, the lowest value recorded since 1997. The 2009 values are associated with an unusual netting year where lower than normal numbers of large fish were caught on both Lake Kabetogama and Rainy Lake. In 2010 female spawner biomass was again on the rise setting a new record high with 2.16 lbs/acre. The 2012 female spawner biomass estimate broke the 2010 record at 2.26 lbs/acre and indicates a strong increasing trend.

Fall electrofishing has also been used on Lake Kabetogama to predict future walleye year-class strength, and in 2012 a total of six stations were sampled. Sampling occurred on the nights of October 1st and 2nd. A total of 175 young-of-year walleye were captured. The catch rate of age-0 walleye was 57.0 fish per hour of "on-time". The historical average was 35.2 age-0 fish per hour. The 2012 catch rate is the third highest ever recorded on Lake Kabetogama behind only the 2001 and 2002 catch rates. Consistent with seining results, summer growth appeared to be good with age-0 walleyes averaging 6.37 inches long in the fall electofishing samples. Scales were collected from a subsample of walleyes to verify ages. The combination of a high electrofishing catch rate and good growth indicate the 2012 year-class has the potential to be a strong year-class.

The 2006 walleye year-class has driven much of the harvest fishery on Kabetogama in the past couple of years (Vondra 2012), and made its mark as the first strong year-class of walleyes to recruit to the gill nets since the 2001 year-class did so in 2004. Aside from the two very strong year-classes in 2001 and 2006, every year-class from 1999 through 2009 appears to be very weak. Preliminary data suggests 2010 and 2011 will also be weak. If the 2010 and 2011 year classes do in fact recruit to the fishery as weak year classes, it will mark the longest gap between strong year-classes in Lake Kabetogama in its history. This is likely to create a void of harvestable size fish available to the anglers in the next few years as a majority of individual fish from the 2006 year-class now appear to have grown into the slot. Thirty-two of 44 fish caught in the gill nets in 2012 (73%) from the 2006 year-class were 17 inches or longer.


The sauger gill net catch rate of 3.35 was in the normal range for Lake Kabetogama and near the median for similar lakes. Gill netted sauger ranged in length from 7.6 to 16.7 inches with an average of 12.0 inches. The average sauger weight was 0.54 pounds.

Eight year-classes were present in the sauger catch. Age-2 made up 38.8 percent of the sauger catch, while age-5 fish added another 37.3 percent. There have been two strong year-classes (2003 and 2007) in the past 10 years but only the 2007 year class was present in the 2012 catch. High catch rates of fish from the 2010 year-class in 2011 and 2012 suggest it may recruit to the fishery as a strong year-class. The 2006 year class was just below average and all other year-classes during this period were weak.

Sauger catch rates in the gill nets have been steady following a decline in the mid-2000s from highs experienced in the late 1990s and early 2000s. An abnormal period of three out of four strong year classes from 1995 to 1998, including two of the strongest year-classes ever in 1997 and 1998, were the catalyst for this spike in sauger abundance. Recruitment has since normalized and appears on a schedule of a strong year-class every third or fourth year. This consistent recruitment has resulted in a very stable catch rate of sauger fluctuating between 2.85 and 3.45 fish per gill net since 2006. The strong 2007 year-class is now reaching a harvestable size averaging 13.7 inches long in 2012 and may help fill some of the void until another strong year-class of walleye recruits to the fishery.

Northern pike

The northern pike gill net catch rate of 2.25 was above the median for Lake Kabetogama and in the normal range for similar lakes. Northern pike lengths ranged from 14.2 to 45.4 inches with an average of 21.9 inches. The average weight was 2.92 pounds.

The northern pike gill net catch consisted of ten age groups. Age-2 pike comprised 56.1 percent of the northern pike catch while age-3 added 19.5 percent. The average age was 3.4 years. Schupp's index of year-class strength identified four strong year-classes (2001, 2004, 2005, 2006, and 2009) present in the 2012 catch , and gill net data suggests the 2010 year-class may also be strong.

Northern pike numbers in the gill nets fluctuated in recent years with no noticeable increasing or decreasing trend. Most of the catch in the 2012 gill nets were from the 2009 and 2010 year classes. These two year classes composed almost 76 percent of the northern pike catch in 2012. Lake Kabetogama experienced a very early ice-out in 2010 and therefore a longer growing season. This longer growing season may have been favorable to northern pike because the 2010 year class was caught in good numbers in 2011 and 2012 gill netting despite low water levels in 2010 that had the potential to hamper northern pike spawning. Trophy-sized northern pike are present in Lake Kabetogama. Four fish over 37 inches long were caught in the 2012 gill nets with the largest measuring 45.4 inches long and weighing 18.6 pounds.

Yellow perch

The yellow perch catch rate of 16.1 was well above the normal range for Lake Kabetogama and above average for similar lakes. This was slightly higher than 2011 and the highest catch rate in any survey of Lake Kabetogama since the large lake program was standardized in 1983. The historical average was 6.79 fish per lift. Yellow perch lengths ranged from 5.2 to 12.4 inches with an average of 8.8 inches. The average weight was 0.38 pounds.

Eight age groups were represented in the perch catch. Age-2 yellow perch made up 41.9 percent of the catch with the age-4 year-class providing an additional 20.3 percent. The average yellow perch age was 3.1 years. The index of year class strength indicates the 2005 through 2009 year-classes are all strong.

Yellow perch abundance has increased in recent years and an all time high gill net catch rate was recorded in 2012. Recent years with poor walleye recruitment may have contributed to higher perch recruitment as the YOY yellow perch were freed from a major source of predation. Another potential explanation for the recent strong year-classes of yellow perch is favorable weather for spawning and a longer growing season. Northern Minnesota has experienced earlier springs and later falls in recent years. In fact, Lake Kabetogama experienced record early ice-outs in 2010 and 2012, breaking the previous record by nine and 11 days, respectively. The recent string of five consecutive strong year-classes is unprecedented on Lake Kabetogama and explains the record high gill net catches. High catch rates of age-1 and age-2 yellow perch in the gill nets in 2012 suggest the 2010 and 2011 year-classes may also become strong year-classes which would amount to seven consecutive strong year-classes.

Smallmouth Bass

Due to time constraints only four stations were sampled during a single spring electrofishing event targeting smallmouth bass in 2012. Sampling occurred on the night of June 6th. A total of 43 smallmouth bass were captured during spring electrofishing. This catch rate was higher than 2011 at 27.2 per hour and similar to recent years. Nine year-classes were represented in the 2012 catch. Age-2 (2011 year-class) represented 53.5 percent of the bass catch while age-6 made up an additional 20.9 percent of the catch. Quality size fish are present with smallmouth bass up to 18.6 inches sampled in 2012.

Other Species

Sixty-five ciscos were captured in the 2012 gill net survey for a catch rate of 3.3 per net. Ciscos ranged in length from 10.4 to 18.3 inches with a mean of 14.3. White suckers were captured at a rate of 4.0 per gill net which was near the median for Lake Kabetogama and higher than average for similar lakes. In the gill nets, centrarchids were represented by smallmouth bass (1.4 per net), rock bass (1.6 per net), and black crappie (0.1 per net). One shorthead redhorse was also caught in the gill nets.

For more information on this lake, contact:

Area Fisheries Supervisor
392 Hwy 11 E
International Falls, MN 56649
Phone: (218) 286-5220
Internet: International 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 B0208 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