Fisheries Lake Survey

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Name: Iron Chief Complex

Nearest Town: Buhl
Primary County: St. Louis
Survey Date: 06/09/2008
Inventory Number: 69142800

Public Access Information

Ownership Type Description
City Concrete North edge of city of Buhl.

Lake Characteristics

Lake Area (acres): 207.11
Littoral Area (acres): null
Maximum Depth (ft): null
Water Clarity (ft): 5.8

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

Did you know? The DNR Section of Fisheries has a full-time staff of 285. There are 4 regional and 28 area fisheries offices.

Fish Sampled for the 2008 Survey Year


Gear Used

Number of fish per net

Average Fish Weight (lbs)

Normal Range (lbs)


Normal Range

Black Bullhead Trap net 0.11 0.2 - 1.2 0.93 0.4 - 1.0
Black Crappie Trap net 0.22 0.8 - 4.5 1.08 0.2 - 0.6
Green Sunfish Trap net 1.22 0.3 - 12.1 0.05 0.2 - 0.2
Gill net 1.17 0.5 - 2.4 0.06 N/A
Northern Pike Trap net 0.11 N/A 6.28 N/A
Rainbow Smelt Gill net 0.67 N/A 0.06 N/A
White Sucker Trap net 0.11 0.2 - 0.9 2.43 1.4 - 3.0
Gill net 0.33 2.3 - 8.7 1.61 1.5 - 2.2
Normal Ranges represent typical catches for lakes with similar physical and chemical characteristics.

Length of Selected Species (Trapnet, Gillnet) Sampled for the 2008 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 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 1
black crappie 0 0 1 1 0 0 0 0 2
green sunfish 18 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 18
northern pike 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 1
rainbow smelt 3 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 4
white sucker 0 0 0 1 2 0 0 0 3

For the record, the largest Lake Sturgeon taken in Minnesota weighed 94 lbs., 4 oz. and was caught:

    Where: Kettle River, Pine County
    When: 9/5/94
    Statistics: 70" length, 26.5" girth

Fish Stocking Activity

Fish Stocked by Species for the Last Ten Years

Year Species Size Number Pounds
2015 Lake Trout yearlings 1,069 103.8
2013 Lake Trout yearlings 990 106.0
2012 Lake Trout adults 300 810.8
2011 Lake Trout yearlings 1,000 81.3
2010 Lake Trout adults 288 533.0
2009 Lake Trout adults 1,031 1,085.0

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 06/09/2008)

Iron Chief Complex is a series of three abandoned mine pits (now connected) near the town of Buhl. Like most pit lakes, the water is relatively infertile and clear. Rainy and windy weather occasionally loosens sediment from the pit walls causing the water to cloud up temporarily. There is a city-owned public access on the south side of the lake. DNR Fisheries has done no stocking or management of the lake, and the 2008 assessment was the first ever conducted on the pit.

Very few fish were captured in the test nets. Green sunfish was the most numerous species in the standard assessment gears, at 1.2/gill net and 1.2/trap net. These fish were rather small, ranging from 3.7 to 5.6 inches in length. Four rainbow smelt were also captured in the gill nets for a catch rate of 0.7/net.

Two small-mesh gill nets specifically designed to sample small fish such as rainbow smelt were also used in this assessment. A total of 32 smelt were captured for a catch rate of 16/net. These fish ranged from 4.6 to 6.3 inches in length.

One northern pike (28.4 inches) was captured in a trap net. This was the only large predator fish sampled. Other fish sampled in low numbers were black bullhead, black crappie, blacknose shiner, bluegill and white sucker. Good water quality characteristics and the presence of a modest population of rainbow smelt appear to make Iron Chief Complex suitable for a cold-water species such as lake trout.

For more information on this lake, contact:

Area Fisheries Supervisor
1201 East Hwy 2
Grand Rapids, MN 55744
Phone: (218) 327-4430
Internet: Grand Rapids Fisheries

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

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