Esquagamah Lake is located 10 miles west of Palisade and is a popular destination for many anglers in western Aitkin County. There is a state owned public access with concrete log ramp located just off of Aitkin County Road 3. The lake supports a wide variety of habitats that are conducive to several species of game fish. There are a several offshore beds of submerged and emergent vegetation that provide excellent habitat for fish and wildlife. Anglers can expect to find fishable populations of walleye, northern pike, largemouth bass, black crappie, and sunfish.
Walleye catch (4.0/gill net) was lower than the last assessment conducted in 2009 (7.3/gill net). Sizes ranged from 9 to 27" with an average length approaching 15". The walleye fishery is supported by fingerling stocking and this strategy appears to be supporting a healthy walleye population. No natural reproduction of walleye was evident.
Northern pike numbers have decreased in every survey since 1986, and were down to 1.5/gill net in 2014. Size structure is healthy with an average length of 26.2", 60% were longer than 24", and individuals up to about 33". Catch and release of pike over 24" is encouraged to maintain a favorable size structure for this lake.
Black crappie numbers have increased since the late 1990's and 2000's and are well above average in abundance for this type of lake. The average size of the crappies was about 7" with a very small percentage (1%) longer than 9". Anglers targeting black crappie can find success both in summer and winter months.
The bluegill population has varied little over the history of surveys on Esquagamah Lake. Abundance, growth rates, and size structure of the population are all favorable compared to other lakes in the area. Anglers are encouraged to exercise selective harvest, and release the larger individuals, to maintain these quality opportunities. History has shown it is difficult, if not impossible, to regain these attributes once they are lost.
Few largemouth bass were caught in 2014, with tradition survey gear, although the largest fish was over 18". A spring electrofishing survey targeting largemouth bass was not conducted in 2014, however a survey conducted in 2009 found good numbers of bass in a wide variety of sizes.