Dead Horse Lake is located about 5 miles south of Marcell, MN, within the Chippewa National Forest, and within the Big Fork River Watershed. The 96 acre lake has 54 littoral acres with a 30 foot max depth, and is relatively undeveloped. Diverse aquatic plant life can be found along the 1.9 mile shoreline. The public access on the north side of the lake has been converted to a carry-in access since the 1999 assessment, with large boulders blocking trailer access.
Similar to the previous assessment, northern pike were sampled within the expected range for lakes similar to Dead Horse. A quality pike fishery exists indicated by an average gill net sampled length of almost 25 inches. Lengths ranged from 17-37 inches. Scale analysis indicated that six ages were sampled with fish up to age-7 in the sample. Back calculated length-at-age indicated growth exceeded the statewide average for all ages. Northern pike averaged 23 inches by age-3.
Gill netting sampled four walleye, similar to the previous assessment. One was sampled in a trap net. Lengths ranged from 15.2-16.5 inches. Typically in lakes similar to Dead Horse, walleye are a bonus fishery and are maintained through stocking. Scale analysis indicated these fish were age-3 and likely stocked as fingerlings in the fall of 2006. Back calculated length-at-age indicated growth exceeded the statewide average.
Bluegill were the most abundant species sampled in both gill nets and trap nets. The trap net catch rate was within the expected range; however it was noticeably less than the previous assessment. The gill net catch rate was greater than the previous assessment. The difference in catches between assessments may be a function of a cold front moving fish into deeper water at the time of the assessment. Size structure appeared moderate with lengths ranging from 3.3-9.7 inches. The average length sampled in gill nets was 6.9 inches, while the average length sampled in trap nets was 5.7 inches. Within the trap net sample, eight age classes were identified through scale analysis with fish up to age-11 present. Back calculated length-at-age indicated growth was similar to the lake class 29 average.
Black crappie were sampled in gill nets near the upper end of the expected range, while the trap net sample was within the expected range. Size structure was poor for both gill net and trap net sampled fish with only two fish being sampled over six inches. The gill net sample had lengths ranging from 4.9-9.3 inches with an average length of 5.6 inches, while the trap net sample had lengths ranging from 4.9-9.1 inches with an average length of 5.5 inches. This was the first time black crappie were sampled since 1981, in which one was sampled in a trap net. Ageing structures were not collected during this assessment, making age or growth only speculative; however these crappie may be young and hadn't reached a larger size at the time of this assessment.
Both gears sampled largemouth bass within the lake class expected range, but this may not accurately represent the population due to net avoidance, typical of bass. Lengths ranged up to almost 17 inches. Four yellow perch were sampled in gill nets (1.0/net), below the expected range and considerably lower than the 1999 assessment (34/gill net). Lengths ranged from 6.1-9.9 inches. Other species sampled included golden shiner, pumpkinseed sunfish, and rock bass.