Hay Lake is a 215-acre lake with 214 acres (99.5%) of littoral area and a maximum depth of 16 feet. The lake is located southwest of Wrenshall, MN off of County Road 4. It has a county-owned earthen access located at the southern end of the lake. The current fisheries management plan for Hay directs fry stocking in odd years. Fry stocking was temporarily discontinued in 2007 due to prolonged low water levels that could lead to winterkill conditions. Water levels had partially rebounded by 2011 when walleye fry stocking resumed. Prior to 1998, walleye had not been stocked or sampled in Hay Lake. Hay Lake was last assessed in 2003. Hay Lake was assessed during the summer of 2011 to update information about fish populations.
Walleye abundance of 0.7 per gillnet lift was down from 2003 (3.3) and was below average compared to other Minnesota lakes of similar type. Walleye average length was 16.5 inches but not enough individuals were sampled to evaluate stock density or growth. Walleye from the 2003, 2007 and 2008 year-classes were present. Sixty percent of walleye aged corresponded to stocked year-classes.
Northern pike abundance of 7.3 per gillnet lift was down from 2003 (7.5) and average compared to other Minnesota lakes of similar type. Northern pike average length was 18.8 inches and growth was average compared to other Duluth Area lakes. All year-classes from 2004 to 2009 were represented.
A total of 3 largemouth bass were sampled with electrofishing equipment. The catch rate of largemouth bass was 4.5 fish per hour of electrofishing on-time. One other bass electrofishing assessment was conducted on Hay in 1998 and the catch rate was 11.1 per hour. Mean length was 17.9 inches but not enough individuals were captured to evaluate stock density or growth. Recruitment appears sporadic, with year-classes from 2002, 2004 and 2005 present in the sample.
Black crappie abundance of 3.8 per trapnet lift was up from 2003 (0.9) and was average when compared to other Minnesota lakes of similar type. Black crappie mean length was 10.8 inches and growth was average when compared to other Duluth Area lakes. A high quality black crappie fishery exists with fish up to 14.1 inches sampled. All year-classes from 2001 through 2010 were represented, except 2007 and 2009.
Bluegill abundance of 3.2 per trapnet lift was up from 2003 (1.6) and was average when compared to other Minnesota lakes of similar type. Average length of sampled bluegills was 8.7 inches and growth was very fast compared to other Duluth Area lakes. A high quality bluegill fishery exists with fish up to 10.5 inches sampled. All year-classes from 2002 through 2009 were represented, except 2003.
Yellow perch abundance of 4.5 per gillnet lift was up from 2003 (3.7) and was average compared to other Minnesota lakes of similar type. Average length of perch was 6.7 inches.
Other fish species sampled include golden shiner, pumpkinseed, brown bullhead and white sucker.
Hay Lake was included in an index of biotic integrity (IBI) assessment in 2011. In addition to standard gillnets and trapnets, beach seines and backpack electrofishing equipment were used to index species richness of the nearshore lake habitat.