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Cass Lake has been steady producer

CASS LAKE — A consistent fishery is always appreciated by the Bemidji area angler and Cass Lake has been a consistent walleye producer for at least 20 years.

“The walleye population on Cass Lake has been stable a long time,” said Bemidji Area DNR Fisheries Large Lake Specialist Tony Kennedy. “The 1990s was considered the hey-day of Cass Lake walleye fishing and right now we’re not far from those levels.”

During last fall’s lake assessment project Cass Lake yielded 13 walleyes per test net. During a similar assessment in 2011 the DNR officials sampled 13.2 walleyes per lift.

“Last year there was a broad range of sizes that we sampled but the 2008 and 2011 year classes dominated,” Kennedy said. “There are many 15 to 17-inch fish in the lake and the future of the walleye fishery on Cass Lake also looks good because of the 10 and 11-inch fish coming behind.”

The 2012 survey also yielded many walleyes in the 16 to 23-inch range plus one that was over 27 inches long.

“Cass Lake has the potential for giving up large walleyes,” Kennedy said. “There are many 20-inch walleyes in the system and we know there are 30-inch walleyes in the chain.”

The Cass Lake Chain is an extensive system that includes rivers, large lakes and smaller lakes. The habitat options provided by the different entities of the chain translate into a productive walleye fishery.

“The chain is the system and the walleyes in the chain have access to a wide variety of good spawning habitat,” Kennedy said.

That habitat variety also benefits Cass Lake’s other predominant species.

“Last year was the second year of a muskie sampling project and we were pleased with what we saw,” Kennedy said. “During the two years we netted 157 muskies, most of them caught in Allen’s Bay.

“The fish we sampled averaged 46 inches for the females and 40 inches for the males although 37 percent of the females were 50 inches or longer. And our largest muskie was 54 inches.”

The data will be used to fashion a muskie population estimate for Cass Lake.

The northern pike population appears to be stable. The data suggests that there are many pike in the system but that trophy northern pike are uncommon.

“There seems to be good numbers of pike over 28 inches but not many over 36 inches,” Kennedy said. “But at times we do see pike over 40 inches during our sampling.”

The perch population also appears to be holding its own and the number of “keeper-sized” perch seems to be on the increase.

“We sampled above average numbers of perch in the seven to 9.5-inch range and that is nice to see because the perch is one of the most pursued fish species in Cass Lake,” Kennedy said.

Pat Miller

Pat Miller is the sports editor at the Pioneer.

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