East Metro Forest Lake (2,251 acres): Coon Lake (1,481 acres):

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1 East Metro Forest Lake (2,251 acres): Located within the City of Forest Lake and just east of Interstate 35, Forest Lake boasts good numbers of northern pike and walleye. Northern pike and walleye were captured at a rate of 4.5 and 3.8 per gill net, respectively, during the 2017 assessment. Walleye fingerlings are now stocked annually, and have produced a walleye population that averaged 20 inches and 3.0 lb. Although northern pike numbers were down from the last assessment in 2015, average size is up (24 inches) and should provide good action this year. Don t forget about the respectable largemouth bass and muskellunge opportunities that begin on May 12 th and June 2 nd, respectively. It is catch-and-release for largemouth bass until May 26 th. Three public accesses and a private marina provide access to a lake comprised of three basins and plenty of structure. Coon Lake (1,481 acres): If you like fishing for bass, northern pike, and walleye, give Coon Lake a try this season. In 2017, pike were abundant (11.8 per gill net; averaged 21.5 inches) and walleye numbers were up (3.3 per gill net) from the 2015 survey of 1.5 per gill net. Don t forget about the walleye 17 inch minimum size limit. Bass fishing is always good and the panfish are respectable. If fishing for pike and harvesting some fish, anglers can keep 10 pike, with not more than two over 26 inches and all pike from inches need to be released. Two public accesses provide easy access to each of the two basins.

2 Sauk Rapids Pearl Lake should provide good angling opportunities in Located north of Kimball in Stearns County, 733 acre Pearl Lake has healthy populations of Walleye, Northern Pike, Largemouth Bass, Black Crappie and Sunfish. A lake survey by Sauk Rapids Fisheries in 2017 found high numbers of Walleye with an average length of 17 inches and many over 20 inches. There is a 17 inch minimum length limit and 3 fish daily bag limit for Walleye. Good numbers of Northern Pike were found with an average length of 21 inches and some larger fish up to 36 inches. Northern Pike have a inch protected slot limit with a 3 fish daily bag limit and one allowed over 36 inches. Pearl has long been a good lake for Largemouth Bass with good numbers and decent size. Black Crappie and Bluegill Sunfish are plentiful with some larger fish available. Big and Mitchell Lakes are located in the town of Big Lake in Sherburne County and should provide good fishing for Walleye, Northern Pike, and Largemouth Bass in The lakes are connected and total 420 acres. A Sauk Rapids Fisheries survey in 2017 showed that recent Walleye stocking has been successful. Walleye numbers have increased and most fish were between 14 and 20 inches. Northern Pike numbers were good with a few larger fish over 30 inches. Largemouth Bass should provide plenty of action and larger bass up to 20 inches are available. Statewide regulations apply; anglers should be aware of new Northern Pike regulations. Pleasant Lake is a 500 acre Lake near Annandale in Wright County. Anglers can expect good fishing for Walleye, Largemouth Bass, and Northern Pike. A Sauk Rapids Fisheries survey in 2017 found decent numbers of Walleye with a very good average length of 19 inches and weight of 2 ½ pounds. Largemouth Bass were plentiful with many larger fish up to 20 inches. Northern Pike numbers were abundant with a decent number of fish between 24 and 30 inches. Statewide regulations apply; anglers should be aware of new Northern Pike regulations.

3 West Metro In contrast to last three milder winters, conditions of were snowier and created longlasting lake ice cover. As a result, fish mortalities associated with wintertime oxygen depletions occurred in multiple locations where seen previously or where expected. While wintertime dieoffs usually don t completely wipe out fish populations, fish abundances are sometimes reduced enough to temporarily effect fishing where winterkill takes place. Spring 2018 flooding of the Minnesota River should replenish some fish to the floodplain lakes, so consider exploring waters within the USFWS Minnesota Valley National Wildlife Refuge and MN DNR Minnesota Valley State Recreation Area. One impact of three consecutive mild winters was fewer walleye available to stock local lakes. A silver lining is that, in fall 2017, fish of larger sizes were stocked, which will provide a short-term boost of keeper-sized fish in those lakes. (Use LakeFinder s stocking report function on the Minnesota DNR web site for details of 2017 walleye stockings.) Lake Independence had the densest stocking of these larger fish 0.5 walleye/acre. Locally, the best recent walleye abundances are anything 5 or higher per gill net; Lake O Dowd was the one lake surveyed in 2017 meeting that measure. Walleye reports from Minnetonka last fall and winter were encouraging, so this success might continue. This is the first year of the new northern pike zone regulations. Waters within the West Metro Fisheries Areas are split between the North Central and Southern Zones. Locally the boundary is, west-to-east, Highway 212 to Highway 41, then the Minnesota River to its mouth. The Minnesota River and its floodplain waters are within the Southern Northern Pike Zone. Existing Special and Experimental Regulations remain in effect and supersede the northern pike Zone Regulations. Fishing in trout lakes will again feature Courthouse Lake in Chaska the only lake where trout are stocked for the spring Opener. The lake will receive its full quota of 1,500 yearling rainbow trout. Survivors left from earlier stocking could provide sporadic added action at Courthouse Lake, as well as at Quarry and Little Long Lakes. Keep in mind that, unlike for walleye and northern pike, the season for local trout lakes starts later in the morning May 12-- one hour before local sunrise.

4 Hinckley For an up north fishing experience within 2 hours of the metro area, the trio of Island, Sand, and Sturgeon lakes in northern Pine County are worth a try. Easily accessible off I-35, all three of the lakes boast abundant Northern Pike populations. Sturgeon Lake still has a protected slot with 3 fish bag limit for Northern Pike, but Island and Sand will be subject to the new North Central zone limit of a 10 fish bag limit with inch protected slot, and limit of 2 over 26 inches. Island and Sturgeon also have walleye populations that are successfully maintained through fingerling stocking. All three lakes offer good panfish fishing year round and catch and release fishing for Largemouth Bass beginning May 12. Island Lake also has a quality Muskellunge fishery with the season opening June 2 nd. Although many anglers focus on Walleye and Northern Pike for the May 12 opener, the season for trout in inland lakes begins the same day. Grindstone Lake west of Sandstone is stocked annually with Rainbow Trout and Brown Trout, and alternate years with Lake Trout, providing a unique fishing opportunity for the area. Grindstone is managed as a two story fishery, with fishing opportunities for panfish, Northern Pike, and Largemouth and Smallmouth Bass along with the trout species. Catch and release action should be good for Smallmouth Bass in the early season. Although Grindstone Lake is not a designated trout lake, a trout stamp is required to keep trout.

5 Little Falls Big Sauk Lake: This 2094 acre impoundment in the Sauk River in Sauk Centre, had continued success with Walleye fry stocking and puts Sauk Lake on the top of the list for better opener bets within the Little Falls management area. Excellent survival and fast growth have made a good number of keeper walleye available to anglers. You should expect a good numbers of fish between 17 and 24 inches this spring with the occasional larger fish thrown in. This long body of water has the Sauk River running through it that can offer some ample opportunities to use current to your advantage. Big Sauk Lake can offer some great opportunities for Largemouth Bass, Yellow Perch and Black Crappie as well. Fish Trap Lake: One of Morrison counties gems, encompassing 1303 acres, Walleye, bass and northern pike numbers and size are looking good. It may be a little more challenging to find the active fish in Fish Trap Lake due to its complex shoreline, but, the reward may be worth it. The lake has a protected slot limit for northern pike that appears to be protecting some of the larger fish in the system. Look for the humps and island breaks to find the walleye. Several decent year classes can be caught. Fish Trap Lake can offer some abundant crappie, and this year should be no exception. Look to the back bays around the opener for this panfish and potential bass action. Big Birch Lake This 2,112 acre Todd County lake near Grey Eagle, attracts attention from a wide variety of anglers. One of the more common species sought after here besides walleye, are Northern Pike. Big Birch was managed for over 20 years with experimental regulations for pike, however, the local anglers wanted to see a change in spite of some noted improvements from the regulation. Bets are good to come across plenty of sub 22 fish and likely good to see pike greater than 26 as well. The lake offers opportunities to try different habitat types with an upper and lower basin, humps, bays and vegetation changes throughout both. Other species of note include Smallmouth Bass, Largemouth Bass, Bluegill and Crappie in decent sizes and numbers to offer opportunities for angling. Fairy Lake While only 305 acres, Fairy Lake offers plenty of opportunities for pike anglers willing to harvest some fish. Our most recent survey data suggested that Northern Pike numbers were still considerably high (15/net) and average weight around a pound and a half in this nice lake near Long Prairie. If anglers were looking for a place to have a positive impact on a Northern Pike Population by harvesting smaller fish, Fairy Lake may very well be that opportunity. An excellent county park is adjacent to the public access on the east side. If the pike do not cooperate, the Bass and sunfish tend to offer some other entertainment.

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