DNR conducts fish surveys in Lake Owasso and Snail Lake

Despite a fish kill late last fall, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources said on May 28 that Lake Owasso carried a healthy fishery through the winter, though some species, such as muskellunge and largemouth bass, will take years to recover.

The DNR surveyed Lake Owasso, which is in southern Shoreview and the northeast corner of Roseville, in mid-May, just after ice-out, setting traps and conducting electrofishing surveys, a process in which fish are stunned with electricity in order to be caught.

The survey found the lake had good populations of northern pike and crappie, while the number of bluegill and largemouth bass were low; no muskellunge were found using either method. There were fewer walleye than a year prior.

The fish kill observed last November by DNR biologists has yet to be explained, but an abiding theory is that walleye, muskellunge and bluegills, seen dead under early winter ice, were killed because the water became hyper-saturated with oxygen, something that can happen when a lake freezes over at the beginning of winter.

“Owasso has been a decent fishery that we’ve been stocking with walleye and muskies for the past 10 years, so we were as upset as anyone about what happened last fall,” TJ DeBates, DNR east metro fisheries supervisor, said. “But this was a natural event, and there’s no arguing with nature.”

Shoreview’s Snail Lake showed signs of a winter fish kill this year according to the DNR. After ice out, largemouth bass and bluegill were found belly-up in the lake, and during a spring survey, the agency only caught northern pike.

The DNR will stock Snail Lake with walleye and largemouth bass this spring; there are no plans to stock bluegill, because the population has not been historically strong in the lake. The largemouth bass population is expected to take around five years to rebound.

— Mike Munzenrider


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