Fisheries Lake Survey

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Name: Sauk (Big Sauk)

Nearest Town: Sauk Centre
Primary County: Todd
Survey Date: 08/22/2011
Inventory Number: 77015000
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Public Access Information

Ownership Type Description
City Concrete South end of lake in city park
DNR Concrete East side of Hwy 71
MnDOT Gravel SW of Hwy 71 bridge
City Pier Located in park in Sauk Centre
DNR Concrete North end of lake

Lake Characteristics

Lake Area (acres): 2125.69
Littoral Area (acres): 1380
Maximum Depth (ft): 61
Water Clarity (ft): 3.4 (2.8-4)

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 2011 Survey Year


Gear Used

Number of fish per net

Average Fish Weight (lbs)

Normal Range (lbs)


Normal Range

Black Crappie Gill net 39.80 0.5 - 2.7 0.13 0.2 - 0.4
Bluegill Gill net 0.07 N/A 0.06 N/A
Common Carp Gill net 0.33 0.2 - 1.7 6.83 2.1 - 9.8
Northern Pike Gill net 2.53 3.1 - 8.5 2.61 1.5 - 2.7
Shorthead Redhorse Gill net 0.13 0.2 - 1.2 2.32 1.1 - 2.5
Tullibee (cisco) Gill net 1.67 0.7 - 6.5 0.89 0.6 - 1.6
Walleye Gill net 5.80 1.3 - 5.5 2.04 1.2 - 2.4
White Sucker Gill net 7.40 0.5 - 3.5 1.01 1.6 - 2.4
Yellow Bullhead Gill net 0.07 0.9 - 10.0 1.59 0.5 - 0.7
Yellow Perch Gill net 121.07 2.5 - 24.2 0.12 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 crappie 382 157 11 0 0 0 0 0 597
bluegill 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1
common carp 1 0 0 0 0 2 1 1 5
northern pike 0 0 0 0 10 20 7 1 38
shorthead redhorse 0 0 1 0 0 1 0 0 2
tullibee (cisco) 0 0 3 17 3 0 0 0 25
walleye 0 0 3 35 20 26 3 0 87
white sucker 1 0 37 54 19 0 0 0 111
yellow bullhead 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 0 1
yellow perch 405 1177 0 0 0 0 0 0 1816

For the record, the largest Rock Bass (tie) taken in Minnesota weighed 2 lbs. and was caught:

    Where: Lake Osakis, Todd County
    When: 5/10/98
    Statistics: 13.5" length, 12.5" girth

Fish Stocking Activity

Fish Stocked by Species for the Last Ten Years

Year Species Size Number Pounds
2015 Walleye fry 2,200,000 19.4
2014 walleye fry 2,100,000 18.7
2013 Walleye fry 2,100,000 18.0
2012 Walleye fry 2,100,000 18.5
2011 Walleye fry 1,300,000 11.8
2010 Walleye fry 2,100,000 21.0
2009 Walleye fry 2,100,000 21.0
2007 Walleye yearlings 3,132 1,436.0
  Walleye adults 758 505.0
2006 Walleye adults 137 91.0

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 08/22/2011)

Big Sauk Lake is a very popular fishing lake on the Todd/Stearns County border by the town of Sauk Centre. The Sauk River flows through the lake and a dam located within city limits controls the water level in the lake. The lake has a heavily developed shoreline and lies within a predominantly agricultural watershed which, along with internal loading, negatively effects the lake's water quality. Big Sauk Lake has a history of summer water quality issues and the 4 foot secchi disk in late August was average for that time of year. The poor water clarity is likely a factor in the noticeable decline of shallow water vegetation which was plentiful less than a decade ago. The lake was known for its bluegill fishery that drew anglers from long distances. Residents, along with survey results, indicate the fish community has shifted from bluegill and northern pike to black crappie and walleye, although crappie have typically been abundant throughout the lake's history. The lack of in-lake vegetated habitat and turbid water may be responsible for this community shift. Netting results indicate both fewer bluegill and northern pike while walleye abundance increased along with yellow perch, tullibee or cisco, and white sucker. The increase in walleye numbers is attributed to several possible factors including low pike abundance, the recent success of fry stocking, and some natural reproduction. A wide range of sizes was observed in the summer survey with many 12 to 14 inch fish present and fishermen also report a recent improvement in walleye fishing. Anglers will likely have no problem catching black crappie but few of the fish are likely to be over nine inches. The lake typically has produced few large crappie over 10 inches. Quality size bluegill up to nine inches were caught in a spring assessment, but locating them could be a challenge. For anglers who hook up with a northern pike, the fish is likely to be a nice one, as the average size in the survey was 2.6 pounds. Big Sauk Lake supports a moderate number of largemouth bass that attract bass fishermen because of the chance to catch a trophy size fish over 20 inches. The excellent prey base of perch, tullibee, and white sucker promotes good growth rates in the game fish. Although Big Sauk Lake is not the typical lake type to be associated with tullibee because of the poor water clarity, it is one of the few lakes open for fall tullibee netting in Central Minnesota. An occasional summer kill has been reported when water temperatures climb and the cool water, oxygen rich zone needed by tullibee shrinks. No triaenophorus or white grubs were found in the tullibee checked during the survey. Common carp have also been an issue within the lake. The extensive river systems that empty into Big Sauk Lake make carp control extremely difficult. Fewer carp were observed in the summer survey; however, they were quite common in the spring electrofishing effort for largemouth bass. Bowfishing for carp has increased in popularity and Big Sauk Lake may be a good place to pursue this sport. While poor water quality continues to be an issue for Big Sauk Lake, an active lake association, as well as the Sauk River Watershed District, has been promoting proper shoreline practices to improve water quality and benefit fish habitat.

For more information on this lake, contact:

Area Fisheries Supervisor
16543 Haven Rd
Little Falls, MN 56345
Phone: (320) 616-2450
Internet: Little 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 B0280 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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