Fisheries Lake Survey

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Name: Kabetogama

Nearest Town: Ray
Primary County: St. Louis
Survey Date: 06/12/2013
Inventory Number: 69084500

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? Minnesota has 11,482 lakes 10 acres or larger, of which 5,483 are fishing lakes. Excluding Lake Superior, the state has 3.8 million acres of fishing water. Minnesota's portion of Lake Superior is 1.4 million acres.

Fish Sampled for the 2013 Survey Year


Gear Used

Number of fish per net

Average Fish Weight (lbs)

Normal Range (lbs)


Normal Range

Black Crappie Gill net 0.05 0.2 - 0.8 1.03 0.2 - 0.6
Burbot Gill net 0.05 0.1 - 0.3 2.86 0.7 - 2.1
Cisco Species Gill net 1.00 N/A 1.37 N/A
Northern Pike Gill net 3.25 1.1 - 2.4 2.24 2.8 - 4.3
Rainbow Smelt Gill net 0.05 N/A 0.03 N/A
Rock Bass Gill net 4.40 0.6 - 1.6 0.26 0.2 - 0.3
Sauger Gill net 3.70 2.1 - 4.3 0.46 0.3 - 0.5
Smallmouth Bass Gill net 1.00 0.2 - 0.6 1.26 0.7 - 1.2
Walleye Gill net 8.05 3.6 - 10.8 1.61 0.8 - 1.3
White Sucker Gill net 3.60 1.4 - 3.0 2.10 1.7 - 2.2
Yellow Perch Gill net 14.40 1.4 - 6.8 0.46 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 2013 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 0 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 1
burbot 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 1
cisco species 0 0 0 8 12 0 0 0 20
northern pike 0 0 0 1 19 38 2 5 65
rainbow smelt 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1
rock bass 19 64 5 0 0 0 0 0 88
sauger 0 8 40 23 3 0 0 0 74
smallmouth bass 1 4 3 7 5 0 0 0 20
walleye 0 18 17 26 78 22 0 0 161
white sucker 0 6 5 11 45 5 0 0 72
yellow perch 14 98 165 11 0 0 0 0 288

For the record, the largest Tiger Trout taken in Minnesota weighed 2 lbs., 9.12 oz. and was caught:

    Where: Mill Creek, Olmsted County
    When: 8/7/99
    Statistics: 20" length, 9 5/8" 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

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

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 06/12/2013)


Eleven fish species were captured during fall gill netting on Lake Kabetogama in 2013. Yellow Perch was the most abundant species in the catch making up 36.5 percent of the total by number Walleye was the second most abundant species adding 20.4 percent to the catch by number. Walleye made up the largest proportion of the total yield comprising 35.2 percent of the total weight of the gill net catch. This year's Walleye gill net catch rate of 8.05 was lower than 2012 but higher than the first quartile 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 2013 Walleye yield was 12.98 pounds per net. The catch rate of Walleye over 17 inches in length was 4.15 in 2013, the second highest rate ever recorded on Lake Kabetogama. The only higher catch rate of Walleye over 17 inches in length occurred in 2012. The 2012 rate was 1.5 times higher than the third quartile for Lake Kabetogama (3.00 per net).

Lengths of gill net captured Walleye ranged from 6.97 to 24.29 inches in 2013. The average length was 15.8 inches. The average weight was 1.61 pounds. Walleye growth has remained relatively consistent over time. However, the observed length at capture in 2013 was lower than previous surveys for age-7 through age-9 fish.

Eighteen age groups from age 1 to age 20 were present in the Walleye catch. The average age was 5.4 years. Age-7 Walleye from the 2006 year class comprised 23.0 percent of the total Walleye catch. Age-1 and age-3 Walleye made up an additional 13.0 and 18.6 percent of the catch, respectively. Analysis of gill netting data using a year-class strength index (YCI) suggests the 2006 and 2001cohorts were the only two strong year-classes produced in the recent past. Lake Kabetogama had been producing a strong year-class every 5th year dating back to 1996. The most recent data suggests a strong year-class has not been produced on Lake Kabetogama since 2006 which would mark the longest span without a strong year-class on Lake Kabetogama since the large lake monitoring program began in 1983.

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. Examining mortality of juvenile (age-1 to age-3) Walleye showed that mortality has significantly increased in recent years.

Seining and fall electrofishing are used to monitor age-0 Walleye growth and production and predict year class strength on Lake Kabetogama. A total of 51 seine hauls were carried out during 2013, and 21 species of fish were represented in the catch. A total of 9,180 fish were captured. Age-0 Yellow Perch were the most numerous species caught, representing 62 percent of the catch. Age-0 White Sucker composed an additional 10 percent of the catch while age-0 Walleyes contributed 2.4 percent of the catch. The catch rate of age-0 Yellow Perch was 111 per haul, totaling 5,676 fish. This catch rate was lower than the long-term mean of 428 per haul and less than the 2012 catch rate of 446 age-0 Yellow Perch per haul. The catch rate of age-0 Walleye was 4.37 per haul which was lower than the long-term average of 22 per haul but higher than the 2012 catch of 0.13 Walleyes per haul.

The late ice-out in 2013 coupled with a cold snap in July likely contributed to slow age-0 walleye growth. Mean Walleye length increased from 1.55 inches (39.3 mm) on July 1st to 3.0 inches (76.5 mm) on July 31st . There is a significant positive correlation on Lake Kabetogama between the age-0 Walleye length on July 31st and the subsequent year-class strength from gill net data. Age-0 Walleye growth was slower than average in 2013 and seining data suggests it will be a weak year-class.

Fall electrofishing has also been used on Lake Kabetogama to predict future Walleye year-class strength, and in 2013 a total of six stations were sampled. Sampling occurred on the nights of October 7th and 8th. A total of 123 young-of-year Walleye were captured. The catch rate of age-0 Walleye was 45.7 fish per hour of "on-time". The historical mean was 36.2 age-0 fish per hour. The 2013 catch rate was lower than 2012 when the third highest age-0 Walleye catch rate ever recorded on Lake Kabetogama was logged (57 per hour) and trailed only the 2001 and 2002 sampling. Consistent with seining results, summer growth appeared slow with age-0 Walleyes averaging 5.49 inches long in the fall electofishing samples which is below the long-term median of 5.64 inches.

Analysis of historical fall electrofishing data of age-0 Walleyes indicates the strongest correlation to subsequent year-class strength is catch rate of age-0 Walleyes greater than or equal to 6.5 inches long. The overall catch rate of age-0 Walleyes provides additional strength to this correlation. Together these two variables explain 75 percent of the variation in subsequent year-class strength.

Consistent with seining results, the 2013 fall electrofishing results predict 2013 will be a poor year-class. This model predicted the 2012 year-class to be a strong year-class based on 2012 fall electrofishing results, as did the seining results from July, 2012. However, 2013 gill netting suggests 2012 will be a weak year-class. The 2006 Walleye year-class has driven much of the harvest fishery on Kabetogama in the past couple of years 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 2012 appears to be very weak. 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-one of 37 fish caught in the gill nets in 2013 (84%) from the 2006 year-class were 17 inches or longer.

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 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. In 2007 and 2008, the female spawner biomass dropped slightly but was still above the mean from 1989 to the present. The 2010 and 2012 female spawner biomass estimates set new record highs with 2.16 and 2.26 lbs/acre, respectively. The 2013 estimate was slightly lower than 2012 but still consistent with an increasing trend in female spawner biomass in Lake Kabetogama.


The Sauger gill net catch rate of 3.70 per net was in the normal range for Lake Kabetogama and higher than the median for similar lakes. Gill netted Sauger ranged in length from 7.3 to 16.7 inches with an average of 11.5 inches. The average Sauger weight was 0.46 pounds .

Eight year-classes were present in the Sauger catch. Age-3 made up 52.7 percent of the Sauger catch, while age-6 fish added another 13.5 percent. There have been three strong year-classes (2003, 2007, and 2010) in the past 10 years and the 2006 year-class appears average.

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 3.75 fish per gill net since 2006. The strong 2007 year-class is now at a harvestable size averaging 14.3 inches long in 2013 and higher Sauger numbers in recent years may help fill some of the void until another strong year-class of Walleyes recruits to the fishery.

Northern Pike

The 2013 Northern Pike gill net catch rate of 3.25 per net was above average for Lake Kabetogama and for similar lakes. The 2013 gill net catch rate represents the second highest catch rate on Lake Kabetogama since 1983. The historical median for Lake Kabetogama is 2.0 per net. Most of the catch in the 2013 gill nets were from the 2009 and 2010 year classes. These two year classes composed 60 percent of the Northern Pike catch in 2013. 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, 2012, and 2013 gill netting despite low water levels in 2010 that had the potential to hamper Northern Pike spawning.

Northern Pike lengths ranged from 13.5 to 37.1 inches with a mean of 21.9 inches. The mean weight was 2.13 pounds. Trophy-sized Northern Pike are present in Lake Kabetogama. One fish over 37 inches long was caught in the 2013 gill nets and a 45.4 inch long Northern Pike weighing 18.6 pounds was caught in 2012.

Yellow Perch

The Yellow Perch catch rate of 14.4 was well above average for Lake Kabetogama and for similar lakes. This catch rate was slightly lower than 2012 which was the highest catch rate in any survey of Lake Kabetogama since the large lake program was standardized in 1983. The historical average was 7.04 fish per lift. Yellow Perch lengths ranged from 5.2 to 13.0 inches with an average of 9.4 inches. The average weight was 0.47 pounds.

Nine age groups were represented in the perch catch. Age-3 Yellow Perch made up 50.1 percent of the catch with the age-4 year-class providing an additional 9.6 percent. The average perch age was 3.6 years. The index of year class strength indicates the 2005 through 2010 year-classes are all strong and the 2010 year-class is the strongest ever on Lake Kabetogama.

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 age-0 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 six consecutive strong year-classes is unprecedented on Lake Kabetogama and explains the record high gill net catches.

Smallmouth Bass

A total of seven stations were sampled during spring electrofishing events targeting Smallmouth Bass on the nights of June 12 and June 13, 2013. Effort per station ranged from 954 to 2732 seconds of "on time". Total effort was 10,679 seconds.

A total of 48 Smallmouth Bass were captured during spring electrofishing. The catch rate was lower than 2012 (27.2 per hour) at 18.0 per hour but within the range seen in recent years. Seven year-classes were represented in the 2013 catch. Age-4 (2009 year-class) Smallmouth Bass averaging 11.1 inches long represented 46.8 percent of the bass catch while age-7 averaging 14.7 inches long made up an additional 18.1 percent of the catch. Quality size fish are present with Smallmouth Bass up to 18.5 inches sampled in 2013.

Other Species

Twenty ciscos were captured in the 2013 gill net survey for a catch rate of 1.0 per net, down from 3.3 per net in 2012. Ciscos ranged in length from 12.1 to 17.2 inches with a mean of 15.0 inches. White Suckers were captured at a rate of 3.6 per gill net which was in the normal range for Lake Kabetogama and higher than average for similar lakes. In the gill nets, centrarchids were represented by Smallmouth Bass (1.0 per net), rock bass (4.4 per net), and black crappie (0.1 per net). One Rainbow Smelt and one Burbot were 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

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    Toll-free: (800) 652-9093