The Glenwood DNR Fisheries Department recently sent out its 2020 fishing outlook report for its work area based on information gathered from 15 standard lake surveys in 2019.
The Douglas County area boasts the opportunity for anglers to fish a whole host of different species, and the data found last year by the DNR continues to show that.
“These lakes are at carrying capacity with a whole host of fish, other than walleyes,” Glenwood DNR Fisheries Supervisor Dean Beck said. “Walleyes are the favorite, and we’ll do all we can to sustain that, but I don’t think we should overlook the bass, the bluegill, the crappie, northern pike. Those are opportunities that are there.”
Where to find walleyes
Of the lakes sampled from 2019, the DNR recommends targeting Lakes Amelia, Villard and Miltona for “keeper-sized” walleye. Smaller, more turbid lakes tend to be recommended early in the season because their water warms more quickly.
Stowe Lake in Douglas County and Long Lake in Stevens County had a lot of 12-13-inch walleyes during 2019 survey work that should grow to 15-plus inches this summer.
Looking to the future, the local DNR fisheries staff was also encouraged by the higher number of young-of-the-year walleye sampled during the fall of 2019 on Lake Minnewaska.
“We looked at that on Minnewaska, Miltona, Ida, Big Chippewa -- the lakes that have some natural recruitment and the large lakes we stocked with fry,” Beck said. “We finally got hit on Minnewaska. These are young-of-the-year walleye that haven’t had their first birthday yet. Hopefully they made the winter, and they’ll be off and running.”
Low numbers of young-of-the-year walleye has been a concern of fishery departments around the state in recent years, so the numbers on Minnewaska were encouraging to see.
“We’re launching a statewide research evaluation. It’s not unique to the Glenwood area. It’s all over,” Beck said of the low catch rates for young walleyes. “Are these walleye not getting the resources necessary in that first growing season to survive that first winter? Or is something else going on? Fortunately, Minnewaska hit.”
Beck looks at the bigger trends during the standard survey work and said they are starting to see more consistency in crappie recruitment. After years of being above carrying capacity, northern pike and bass numbers are starting to level off, as well.
“We went through a period of high water and pike numbers just blew up,” Beck said. “Bass numbers blew up, and we’re seeing those moderating now. Those numbers are coming down, and that bodes well for a more balanced fishery. Maybe a little bit better success in our walleye stocking.”
Lakes sampled during the 2019 standard lake surveys were Little Chippewa, Ida, Miltona, Maple, Leven, Burgen, Villard, Amelia, Long (Douglas), Cowdry, Round, Red Rock, Long (Stevens), Stowe and Goose. Here is a breakdown of the numbers found in that survey work heading into opener for species other than walleye:
Most lakes in the area have bluegill, but finding big fish can be difficult on some waters.
Clear, vegetated lakes such as Little Chippewa, Ida, Miltona and Maple had consistent numbers, as well as some fish over 8 inches.
The DNR said crappies do not sample well with its nets in the summer, so even lakes with low catch rates might still support good populations.
Long and Red Rock Lakes saw a lot of fish under 8 inches, but crappies in the 10-12 inch range could be found. Stowe Lake also netted more keeper-sized crappies. Ida, Miltona and Maple are also considered good crappie lakes, with Maple having a special regulation on crappies of a minimum size of 10 inches and a possession limit of five.
“We had major year classes in 2010 and 2011, and now it looks like 2014 was pretty good,” Beck said of crappies overall in their work area. “We’ve got young fish coming up in the system, and they’re pushing 8, 9, 10 inches now.”
Anglers can target bass through catch-and-release on the May 9 opener before the official bass opener where anglers can keep fish on May 23.
The area is home to many quality bass fisheries right now. Standouts sampled in 2019 were Maple, Goose and Amelia. All three had catch rates of over 100 bass per hour of electrofishing and opportunities for bass over 18 inches. Amelia sampled particularly well at more than 200 bass per hour. Miltona and Ida are also considered good fisheries.
Leven, Villard and Maple Lakes all sampled big numbers of northern pike. Most of those fish were less than 22 inches, but 30-plus inch northerns were caught in all three lakes. Red Rock Lake had lower densities overall but a better opportunity at catching fish over 30 inches.
All the lakes in the Glenwood DNR’s work area fall within the north-central zone of new pike regulations that went into effect in 2018.
Anglers can keep 10 northerns but not more than two over 26 inches. Fish from 22-26 inches must be released. One exception is on Rachel Lake where all pike from 24-36 inches must be released. Possession limit on Rachel is three and only one over 36 inches.
Quality yellow perch fisheries are rare in the Glenwood area, but Long Lake in Stevens County featured an abundance of perch during 2019 sampling.
Most of those fish were less than 8 inches, but perch at 10-plus inches were found in the lake. Miltona, Red Rock and Stowe also had 8-10-plus-inch perch. Page Lake in Stevens County was not sampled in 2019, but it is considered one of the few jumbo perch fisheries in the area.