Fishery Report 2019

Fishery Report August 2018 by John Harris 


  • The hoped for stocking of walleye did not occur this spring.  It is now on the agenda for this early autumn. 

  • Electo-fishing will occur again this year. Usually it is in late Sept or early Oct. In any event, it will occur before the stocking of any walleye (don't want to skew results) so I'm guessing that the electro fishing will occur earlier than usual.

  • Nothing concrete has occurred with the Fishery Management plan being developed by the DNR other than a number of discussions within the Department. The goal is to begin getting something in writing this autumn and then, seek our input and help.

  • Fishing reports are mixed. Seems to be a lot of bass being caught; numerous small northern with a few big ones being picked up. Persistent anglers are being rewarded by some walleyes but the occasional angler is generally not doing real well.

  • The new northern regulations are in place. The intent of the regulation is to increase the harvest of smaller, "hammer handle" northern thereby reducing the predatory pressure on the young walleye. This will work only if anglers keep those small but very good eating northern. 

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. 


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. 

The fishery management plan that had been in place with the DNR is now complete.  The DNR indicates they will continue to work with us. Future stocking plans of frylings again in 2 years, pending summer 2017's gill net survey and assuming they are available.  


Northern bag limit - Legislation is now expected to go into effect in 2018 that will try to address the issue of the abundance of small "hammer Handles" to the detriment of the rest of the game fish.  

Under the new regulation, the northern bag limit will change to: 

Angling bag limit: 10, and all pike from 22 to 26 inches must be released, with only two longer than 26 inches.

Spearing bag limit: 10, including one from 22 to 26" and one over 26"; or bag limit of 10 with two over 26 inches.

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