Jay Gould is a shallow, productive lake located near Cohasset, MN in the Mississippi River watershed. Jay Gould is part of a chain of lakes including Pokegama, Little Jay Gould, Blackwater Lake and the Mississippi River. Navigation by boat is possible among all the lakes in the chain. Water levels are controlled by the Pokegama Dam on the Mississippi River. Jay Gould supports a variety of species of aquatic vegetation with good habitat for Largemouth Bass, Northern Pike and panfish. Due to its connection to the Mississippi River and other lakes in the chain, a number of other fish species are also found in Jay Gould. The 2008 lake management plan listed Walleye and Yellow Perch as primary management species, with Largemouth Bass and Northern Pike as secondary management species. A standard survey was conducted in August 2015 to assess the status of the fishery.
Walleye were sampled in numbers typical for this lake class but lower than previous surveys. Annual fingerling stocking for the past nine years did not appear to appreciably increase the Walleye population. Past surveys documented higher Walleye catch rates, attributed to natural reproduction, migration and fry stocking. Walleye sampled in 2015 ranged from 8.7 to 24.8 inches with an average length of 16.6 inches and an average weight of 1.8 pounds. Eight year classes between age 1 and 11 were represented in the sample. Average length of 18.0 inches at age 5 was similar to the statewide average (17.3).
Yellow Perch were sampled in numbers above the typical range for this lake class. A few large perch over 9 inches were sampled but overall size structure was poor. Sampled fish varied from 5.2 to 10.5 inches with an average length of 6.9 inches. The lack of larger perch could be the result of angler harvest. Jay Gould has historically been a popular site for winter anglers targeting Yellow Perch.
Jay Gould supports a healthy Largemouth Bass population. Spring night electrofishing collected moderate numbers of bass averaging 13.8 inches and 1.8 pounds, with fish over 17 inches in the sample. A balanced age distribution indicated consistent recruitment. Mean length of 14.4 inches at age 6 was similar to the statewide average (15.1).
Northern Pike were sampled below the typical range for this lake class. Size structure was poor; pike averaged 19.6 inches with only nine percent of the sample exceeding 24 inches. Recruitment of Northern Pike appeared consistent with ages 1-5 represented in the sample. An average length of 20.6 inches at age 4 was similar to the statewide average (20.5). The lack of pike over 24 inches and older than age 5 may be due to angler harvest. Anglers can help improve the quality of the Northern Pike population by practicing selective harvest of smaller fish, while releasing medium to large fish. Releasing these fish can help maintain a more balanced fish community and provide anglers the opportunity to catch more large fish in the future.
Black crappie were sampled in numbers typical for this lake class and higher than the previous survey. Size structure was favorable for anglers as the majority of fish exceeded 10 inches.
Bluegill were sampled in numbers below the typical range for this lake class. Size structure was fairly poor; Bluegill averaged 5.8 inches with only two Bluegill over 8 inches. A couple of larger Bluegill were captured in the gill nets. Recruitment appeared consistent with ages 1-7 represented in the sample. An average length of 6.2 inches at age 5 exceeded the lake class average (5.0).
Curly leaf pondweed, an aquatic invasive species, is found in the connecting waters of Blackwater Lake. Boaters can prevent the spread of invasive species by removing all vegetation from their boat and trailer before moving from one waterbody to another.