dNR fish studies

2020 DNR Creel Studies of Little Boy and Wabedo Lakes

A two-stage, stratified random roving creel survey was conducted on Little Boy and Wabedo lakes, Cass County, Minnesota from May 9 to September 30, 2020 to evaluate fishing pressure, catch, harvest, angler demographics, and to aid in evaluation of the Walleye 18-26 inch Protected Slot Limit (PSL) implemented in 2018.

The regulation was implemented to protect mature females and increase the spawning biomass, improve population size structure which had declined over time, and produce more consistent and potentially stronger natural year classes. The full report can be found here. The following summarizes the survey results:

  • 1429 angling parties were interviewed (811 on Little Boy and 618 on Wabedo Lake)

  • Total angling pressure increased from the 2001 CREEL survey.

    • The increase is suspected to have been influenced by the COVID pandemic.

    • Many anglers indicated they fished these lakes as a result of closure of the US/Canadian border, or that modified work/education schedules allowed for increased fishing opportunity.

    • An aerial survey completed in 2016 estimated the lowest fishing pressure of any of the surveys.

  • Percentage of angler trips:

    • Private residence = 38%,

    • Resort = 30%,

    • Public Access = 31%.

    • In comparison to the 2001 survey both private residence and resort percentage decreased, and public access percentage increased.

  • Walleye was the primary species targeted on both lakes

    • Little Boy = 40%, Wabedo = 23%)

  • Walleye catch rates were slightly higher in 2020, while harvest rates decreased.

    • This is likely due to the Protected Slot Limit (PSL) implemented in 2018.

    • 29% of walleye caught were within the PSL.

    • A further reduction in harvest rates is expected as the total number of walleye within the PSL increases.

2016 DNR Overview of Little Boy and Wabedo Fisheries

Presented at the 2016 Annual Meeting by Doug Schultz, DNR, this report explains the correlation between stocking and recruitment (survival of fish over several years). It takes elements out of the fisheries management report and surveys and adds interpretation bullets with the hypothesis of increased fry stocking doesn’t translate to increased recruitment.

Electrofishing Studies

One purpose of electrofishing studies is to look at Young of the Year (YOY) walleye. YOY is defined as walleye that were born in the spring of the same year and made it through their first summer. Electrofishing studies were completed on Little Boy Lake on September 9, 2020 and Little Boy and Wabedo Lakes on September 23, 2019.

LIttle Boy Lake

There was no stocking of walleye fry in Little Boy Lake in 2019, therefore all of the YOY found were the result of natural reproduction. The DNR will stock walleye fry in Little Boy in the spring of 2020, and on even years going forward according to the current DNR lake management plan.

Wabedo Lake

The 2020 fall electrofishing study was not completed on Wabedo due to mechanical/weather issues. The previous electrofishing study on Wabedo targeting YOY was in 2002. Going forward there will be annual fall electrofishing studies to evaluate fry stocking and natural reproduction. No walleye fry have been stocked on Wabedo since 2004. Walleye fingerlings were stocked on even years from 2006 - 2018.

The 2019 electrofishing study found zero YOY walleye. The DNR indicates that one cannot conclude anything based on one study. Some lakes do not test accurately for electrofishing, and Wabedo hasn’t had such a study since 2002, so we don’t have anything to compare. We’ll know more about YOY survival after several YOY electroshocking reports, and also as the fish get big enough to be caught in gill net studies.

DNR Standard Lake Survey Reports