Hand Lake (DOW # 110242, Lake Class 25) is a 289-acre lake located 11 miles east of Backus, MN. Hand Lake has a state-owned public access with a concrete ramp on the west shoreline. The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (MNDNR) has classified Minnesota's lakes into 43 different classes based on physical, chemical and other characteristics. Hand Lake is in Lake Class 25; lakes in this class are generally deep, clear lakes that have irregular shorelines with many bays or points. The lake is managed primarily for Northern Pike and Largemouth Bass and Secondarily for Black Crappie, Bluegill, Walleye and Tullibee (Cisco).
Northern Pike were abundant compared to other Lake Class 25 lakes. Northern Pike mean length was 19 inches and fish up to 35 inches were sampled. Large year classes in 2009 and 2010 should provide future opportunities for anglers targeting Northern Pike. Abundance of Black Crappie and Bluegill in Hand Lake was comparable to similar lakes. Black Crappie mean length was 10 inches with fish 12 inches in length present, and Bluegill averaged 6.8 inches long with fish up to 9 inches being sampled. The improved size quality of both Bluegill and Black Crappie populations will provide quality angling opportunities. Anglers may also encounter other species such as Bowfin (dogfish), Brown Bullhead, Largemouth Bass, Pumpkinseed, Rock Bass, Tullibee (Cisco), Yellow Bullhead and Yellow Perch.
People can have significant impacts on lakes and the fish populations they support. Harvest, lakeshore development, removal of shoreline vegetation, and introductions of invasive species can all adversely affect fish populations. Currently no aquatic invasive species (AIS) have been identified in Hand Lake. AIS are moved from infested to non-infested waters by anglers, boaters, and lake shore owners and can adversely impact lakes and fish populations. To avoid spreading AIS, lake users are required to remove all aquatic plants or animals from their watercraft and drain all water from their boat before leaving the access. If you suspect an infestation of an invasive species in this lake, save a specimen and report it to a local natural resource office. Additional information on all of these topics can be found on the DNR website (www.dnr.state.mn.us) or by contacting the Walker Area Fisheries office.