Lake Pepin

Lake Pepin showing calm waters and a blue ski with some clouds. Lake Pepin is the largest lake on the Mississippi River. It is a naturally occurring lake formed by the backup of water behind sedimentary deposits of the Chippewa River's delta. It is part of Pool 4 which extends from Lock and Dam (LD) 3 near Red Wing, MN to LD 4 downstream at Alma, WI. The lake is 21 miles long, averages 1.7 miles wide and covers 29,295 acres. It has a maximum depth of 60 feet and an average depth of 21 feet. Since 1991, 89 species have been identified by the Lake City Long Term Resource Monitoring Program.  

Interesting facts:

  • First written history of Lake Pepin identifies the French fort, Fort Beauharnois, built in 1727
  • Ralph Samuelson from Lake City, MN invented water skiing on Lake Pepin
  • Only working lighthouse on the entire Mississippi River is found at the Lake City Marina


  • Annually sampled by the MN DNR as part of the DNR’s Large Lake Program
    • Goal:  identify trends in fish populations in Minnesota’s ten largest and most popular lakes
    • Sampling:  shoreline seining, bottom trawling, gill netting, and electrofishing

General Trends

  • Environmental conditions in the spring of 2009 appeared to be favorable for spawning walleye, sauger, and yellow perch
  • Gizzard shad young-of-the-year abundance was below average for the second year in a row
  • Angling should continue to be excellent for largemouth bass, smallmouth bass, walleye, and sauger during 2010
  • White bass fishing success should remain good
  • Black crappie, northern pike, bluegill, and yellow perch populations should benefit from the explosive reproduction observed in 2008

Surveys and Reports

Invasive Species Found in Lake Pepin