Updates for 2021 

Northern Pike: On Washburn and other area lakes, anglers can keep ten northern pike, but not more than two pike longer than 26 inches. Any pike from 22 to 26 inches must be released. As always, you are encouraged to keep and eat the small northerns you catch! To see a video about how to fillet a northern go to: https://www. youtube.com/watch?v=puGdrWNhV8A

Sunfish: This doesn’t impact Washburn yet, but there are new limit restrictions on sunnies and crappies in nearly 100 Minnesota lakes. This new regulation is in place to help maintain a healthy, larger breeding stock. “Sunfish grow slowly. When anglers keep the largest sunfish, the remaining small males don’t need to compete with larger males to spawn. Once the larger males are gone, the smaller males devote less energy to growing and instead, devote energy to spawning at younger ages.” (MN DNR). Catching and releasing larger fish is a great way to improve the fishery of any lake.

Lead Tackle: Due to the continuing poisoning of loons and other birds when they accidentally ingest lead, a bill is pending in our State Legislature that could ban the manufacture, sale and use of lead fishing jigs and sinkers in Minnesota. At some point, this legislation (Bill HF-157) is likely to become law, as Minnesota follows other states in banning this toxic material. Hearings on the bill are being held now, but results will not be available before we go to press. Check this site for updated information. www.house.leg.state.mn.us and search HF157 2021.

Consider buying lead-free tackle when replenishing your tackle box. Doing so now may save you from having a stockpile of lead tackle you can’t use.

DNR Fishery News

Stocking: The DNR expects to resume walleye egg harvesting and thus be able to stock frylings in the autumn. If frylings are not available, they’ll try to stock fingerlings. Washburn is on the DNR’s stocking plan for 2021.

Lake Plan: The development of a plan for Washburn will be done in stages. The DNR plans to consolidate years of data based on netting and electrofishing that will include the results of gill netting here this year. This background work will occur this coming winter. A draft of a plan will be developed in 2022 and we’ll be asked to provide input and feedback. A small group from our lake should participate in the process. The plan will be finalized, and then implemented in 2023. Until then, the DNR will try to follow the Washburn plan which expired several years ago.

Lake Study: The DNR is preparing a study of the impact of zebra mussels on the walleye population. Sixty-five lakes, including Washburn and Thunder, will be included in the study. Lakes without zebra mussels will be compared to lakes with that invasive species. Washburn is one of the lakes that appears to be without zebra mussels at this time. This will be a long-term study over a 10-15 year period. At this point, nothing is expected of us, except to continue to actively prevent AIS from entering our lake.

Washburn in 2021

• Gill netting will be done later this summer, over a one week period likely beginning August 9; it will include 15 gill nets and 15 traps.

• Walleye stocking and electrofishing will occur in the fall.

By John N. Harris, DNR Liaison

 Report 2020

The DNR conducted electrofishing on Monday night, October 12, 2020.  

Initial report was disappointing but not devastating. The crew pulled 15 "young of year" walleye. YOY are walleye hatched this year. Fifteen is a small number but it is slightly better than last year and it is all the result of natural reproduction as there was no stocking this year. 

That's the good news. Of course, weather, etc. can be a factor but we've  had a pattern of low results the past few years so there must be validity to the results. Hopefully, stocking can resume next year. Also, it is important that those 17-25" walleye be released to the lake rather than to the frying pan. 

If I get any other insights, I'll  share them.                                    John Harris

Lake Washburn Association Director -

Lisa - landed this Walleye

 on June 20, 2020!

Lisa McCloud.jpeg
Fisheries June 2019.jpeg

Historic Results Gill Netting & Electrofishing on Lake Washburn

2017 Netting Results Report/Comparison -  
Submitted by John Harris

Lake Washburn is a beautiful body of water. Whether you are here for a day or are a year-round resident, there are many ways to enjoy activities on this lake, including angling. At least sixteen species of fish have been identified inhabiting our clear lake water. Small and large mouth bass, walleye, northern pike, crappie and, pan fish are included in the array of fish.

If you enjoy fishing, you are likely to be successful in catching something. If you are fishing for walleye, well that’s a little tougher. Our walleye tend to be fewer in number but larger in size.  The Washburn Lake Association has been collaborating with the Minnesota DNR for several years, trying to improve the walleye population. There are two primary issues with respect to being successful in this quest… natural walleye reproduction is low and so is the primary food fish, perch. Without an adequate supply of perch, young walleye become a primary food source for most other fish. There are no catch and release requirements on Washburn but all sportsmen are encouraged to quickly release any walleye over 17” as fish that size are generally females and the prime breeding stock that fuels natural reproduction. Anglers are also encouraged to keep those smaller 15” or so northern that love to feed on small walleye. The filets from these “hammer handles” can make an excellent meal.

The DNR regularly tests Washburn to determine the quality of the fishery. This includes electro-fishing  in the autumn and occasionally, gill netting. Gill netting was most recently done in the summer of 2013 and again in the summer of 2017. A chart taking a quick look comparing the results of the two tests follows. Note that pan/sunfish are not typically caught in the gill netting process. 

ANNUAL NETTING ON  WASHBURN.......

We have now completed the plan developed with the DNR to manage the walleye fishery on Washburn. The plan included stocking walleye every other year and then testing results via electrofishing each Sept and netting every other Aug. The final netting's were completed  August 14th thru 18th, 2017. This is a critical part of the process and the results will be a big factor in future fisherie management planning.

The Nets used are 250’ in length. The nets are divided into five segments, each 50’ long. The segments vary in the size of the openings ranging from ¾”, 1”, 1 ¼ “, 1 ½ “ & 2”.

This is designed to help avoid a catch of a lot of fish in any one size category.  Most of the fish caught are dead upon retrieval although some live… I observed a northern being released alive today. Overall, the nets cover a very small portion of and have minimal impact on our fishery. 

Fisheries - Stocking & Testing

The DNR has conducted electrofishing on Lake Washburn.

Electrofishing is used to try to gain insight into the young of year walleye population including numbers and to whether the fish are from stocking or natural reproduction. A boat mounted generator is used to induce electrical current into the water that stuns the fish, allowing fisheries workers to net the fish for placement in live wells.  Most of the fish caught by electrofishing recover rapidly and are promptly returned to the water after the necessary biological data is recorded.  The results for Washburn was catch rate for young-of-the-year was only 5.9/hr.  The frylings looked okay when stocked but apparently didn't fare well thereafter.