Area lakes were not stocked with fish by Department of Natural Resources this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but they have plenty of fish, said a DNR official contacted by the Press.
“Most lakes will continue to sustain a quality fishery, providing ample angling opportunities,” said Harland Hiemstra, communication officer for the DNR’s Central-St. Paul region of Minnesota. He added that not stocking lakes this year should not significantly affect the future fish population.
“It’s one year of stocking that will be missed for walleyes and muskies. The other self-sustaining species like bluegill, black crappies, bass and pike will not be affected at all.”
Sometimes a reduction of one kind of fish can be good for a lake anyway, he said, due to less competition for food.
Asked if area lakes are now being overfished, Hiemstra said that’s not the case, but he noted that fish license sales are higher than the last two years — with fishing being one of the few safe sports activities during the pandemic.
“Being outside, while keeping safe distances, is the best place to be right now, and that means activities like golf, fishing, hiking are pretty popular this summer. Just need folks to follow our fishing regulations.”
Lakes are stocked according to an individual lake management plan that is guided by fish surveys completed by area offices. The higher-priority lakes are stocked, and the DNR keeps track of the effectiveness of the stockings.
“We adjust our stocking and individual lake management based on the surveys done. For example, White Bear Lake gets surveyed every two years because we stock it with walleyes and muskies … and because it’s one of our better overall fisheries in the East Metro.”
2019 fish stockings
Muskellunge — 764 fingerlings weighing 144.2 pounds
Walleye — 43,867 fingerlings weighing 1,537.0 pounds
White Bear Lake
Muskellunge — 1,309 fingerlings weighing 344.0 pounds
Muskellunge — 18,806 fingerlings weighing 53.4 pounds
Walleye — 23,675 fingerlings weighing 1,037.5 pounds
Walleye — 4,263 fingerlings weighing 142.1 pounds
Bald Eagle Lake
Muskellunge — 1,045 fingerlings weighing 255.4 pounds
Walleye — 5,136 fingerlings weighing 285.0 pounds
Walleye — 7,269 fingerlings weighing 469.0 pounds
Walleye — 276,000 fry weighing 2.8 pounds.
Walleye — 412,000 fry weighing 4.2 pounds
Walleye — 2,223 fingerlings weighing 94.0 pounds
Walleye — 4,860 fingerlings weighing 167.0 pounds
Muskellunge — 146 fingerlings weighing 33.2 pounds
Walleye — 8,176 fingerlings weighing 299.0 pounds
Three other lakes — George Watch, Reshanau and Pleasant — were not stocked in 2019.
Source: Minnesota Department of Natural Resources