On Mille Lacs Lake, northern pike are managed to provide a trophy fishery, while still allowing harvest of smaller individuals. In order to monitor if we are meeting these management goals, we sampled pike shortly after ice out.
The Mille Lacs Lake fisheries crew finished sampling northern pike on May 1. Sampling was conducted using trap nets on the south end of Mille Lacs Lake near Wahkon. Each fish had its length and sex recorded, and was released unharmed.
The population is healthy and has a good size distribution. A total of 138 northern pike were caught, with the majority in the 23 to 25 inch range. Twenty six percent of the northern pike sampled were 30 inches or larger and 3.6 percent were longer than 40 inches.
This year we focused our efforts on one area of the lake. We plan to sample northern pike again in upcoming years but at different spawning sites around the lake. The information we collect through this survey will help us manage northern pike on Mille Lacs Lake.
Other species we caught
In addition to the northern pike, we caught 50, 10-11 inch crappie and six 13-14 inch crappie that were rather impressive! We caught the crappie in our nets that were set near deep holes around rooted emergent vegetation.
We also caught 10 large female muskellunge that were staging to spawn. The memorable muskellunge measured 43.7, 43.8 inches and one was longer than our 50-inch measuring board. All of the muskellunge were healthy, fat and left a lasting impression on all of us!