Minnesota Lake:

Upper Red Lake


From the Minnesota DNR:

Upper Red Lake is a 108,000 acre lake in northern Beltrami County. Fifty-six percent (60,000 acres) of the lake is under the jurisdiction of the Red Lake Band of Chippewa Indians, and 44% (48,000 acres) is under the jurisdiction of the State of Minnesota. The walleye population in this lake has been heavily exploited by a gill net fishery for many decades. Angling harvest can also be substantial when strong year classes are present and of a desirable size range. The Red Lake Band implemented a one-year closure of their commercial fishery in 1997 in waters under their jurisdiction due to the collapse of the walleye population. Subsistence gill netting was permitted, but little activity was observed. In 1998, the Band continued the commercial harvest moratorium and also prohibited subsistence harvest of walleye. The State of Minnesota reduced walleye possession limits to two for Minnesota waters of Upper Red Lake in 1998. The State also continued the closure of the whitefish netting season in State waters to preclude inadvertent harvest of adult walleye. A total walleye harvest moratorium was implemented system wide in the spring of 1999 as the first step in a cooperative walleye recovery effort. Additional steps include augmentation of natural walleye reproduction via walleye fry stocking, with a target of 1,000 fry (natural + stocked) per littoral acre, and intensified fishery assessments conducted by State and Tribal resource managers in close consultation and cooperation.

Analysis of the fall 2000 gill net sample indicates that walleye from 11 year classes were sampled. The oldest walleye sampled was a female from the 1981 year class. About 44% of the walleye sample was comprised of fish from the 1999 year class. This year class was composed mainly of stocked fish. Most of the remaining walleye were from the modest 1996 and 1997 year classes. Walleye gill net CPUE was 12.1 per lift. This is the highest walleye CPUE documented on the lake since 1993. This continues an increase in CPUE observed annually since the record low catch rates of 3.4 per lift observed in both 1996 and 1997. Total pounds of walleye per gill net lift was 14.7, the highest since 1992.

In the 2000 assessment, yellow perch from nine year classes were sampled in gill nets. The oldest perch sampled were from the 1990 year class. No perch from the 1993 year class were sampled. Nearly 99% of the perch sample measured less than 8 inches.

Seven year classes of northern pike were sampled in gill nets. The oldest northern pike sampled were from the 1992 year class. Approximately 17% of the sample was comprised of northern pike less than 23.0 inches while 39% of the sample measured 28.0 inches and larger.

Three year classes of black crappie were sampled in gill nets in 2000. The oldest crappies sampled were 6+ years old. Sample size was small (35) and greatly reduced from 1999, likely due to the difficulty of sampling adult crappies in gill nets. There is no indication yet of even a modest year class of crappies following the exceptionally strong 1995 year class. It appears that the 1997 year class is present, but weakly represented. Anglers are still catching crappies from the 1986 and 1991 year classes, but we failed to sample any in our gear this year.

All catch information for other fish species was similar to the long-term average. Some species were sampled in such low numbers that no useful trend could be discerned.



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