A population assessment was conducted on Foot Lake during mid-July of 2014. Foot is a moderate sized (544 acres), multi basin, aerated, and productive lake located in Kandiyohi County. Foot Lake is part of the Hawk Creek Watershed. Foot Lake is located within the city limits of Willmar. A large city park is located along the east side of the lake. There are two distinct basins (northwest and southeast) bisected by a county road, but connected via several large culverts. Foot Lake has two public boat access sites with one site on each basin and two shore fishing piers on the north shore of the southeast basin near the two large culverts. The fishing piers are popular spots for catching walleye, northern pike and channel catfish in the lake. Foot Lake is also connected to Willmar Lake via an upstream navigable channel. Fish movement between the Foot Lake basins and Willmar Lake probably occurs frequently. The Foot Lake outlet is considered the headwaters of Hawk Creek, although there are several shallow lakes upstream of Foot Lake connected via ditches and inlets to Willmar Lake. Nutrient inputs into Foot Lake are from varied sources such as road runoff via Highway 23/71, storm sewer runoff from the city of Willmar, residential lawn runoff, fecal droppings from local Canada goose populations, and agricultural runoff primarily in the northwest basin. Shoalwater substrates were varied in both basins with sand, silt, muck, gravel, boulder, and rubble.
The northwest basin is 6 feet deep maximum with moderate to abundant submergent vegetation (coontail, northern milfoil, water moss) and moderate water clarity. The southeast basin has a maximum depth of 24 feet with sparse submergent vegetation (sago pondweed) and poor water clarity (secchi=2.5 feet on July 14, 2014). Emergent vegetation (cattails, bulrush) is common near the Willmar Lake channel area and scattered throughout the near shore areas of the northwest basin. Blue-green algae blooms are common occurrences during the late summer months of most years. Water levels were high during June and July of 2014 from inlets due to rain events, but low by fall. A slow no-wake zone was put in place for lakes in Kandiyohi and Stearns Counties during June thru early July of 2014. Foot Lake has been a popular fishing lake for black crappie, walleye, northern pike, bluegill, channel catfish and largemouth bass in recent years.
Yellow perch numbers and average sizes were moderate in 2014 (16.00 fish/gillnet, 0.19 pounds and 7.14 inches). The yellow perch historical average catch rate is 7.14 fish/gillnet for Foot Lake. The yellow perch historical average weight is 0.18 pounds from gillnets. Moderate numbers of larger sized (8.00 plus inches) yellow perch (6.00 fish/gillnet) were caught in the gillnets.
Northern pike numbers were low in 2014 (1.50 fish/gillnet) compared to the historical average of 3.26 fish/gillnet. The 2014 northern pike average size was small (2.30 pounds and 22.19 inches) from gillnets. The northern pike historical average weight is 2.54 pounds from gillnets. Northern pike growth rates were excellent. The largest northern pike captured was 33.8 inches from a trapnet.
Bluegill numbers were low in 2014 (4.00 fish/trapnet) and below the historical average (8.02 fish/trapnet) for Foot Lake. The 2014 bluegill average size was small (0.13 pounds and 5.40 inches) from trapnets. The bluegill historical average weight is 0.26 pounds from trapnets.
Black crappie numbers were moderately abundant in 2014 trapnets (8.67 fish/trapnet) compared to the historical average of 5.93 fish/trapnet. The 2014 black crappie average size was moderate (0.28 pounds and 6.90 inches) from trapnets. The black crappie historical average weight is 0.34 pounds from trapnets. Abundant numbers of small black crappie (12.50 fish/gillnet, 0.07 pounds average weight) were captured in the gillnets. Moderate numbers of larger sized (8.00 plus inches) black crappie (3.50 fish/trapnet) were captured in 2014. Black crappie growth rates were moderate to excellent. The largest black crappie captured was 11.6 inches from a trapnet in 2014.
Walleye numbers were low in 2014 (2.00 fish/gillnet) compared to the historical average of 5.43 fish/gillnet. However, walleye were abundant in connected Willmar Lake (14.00 fish/gillnet, 1.63 pounds average weight). The walleye average size was moderate (2.87 pounds and 18.86 inches) from Foot gillnets. The walleye historical average weight is 1.76 pounds from gillnets. Walleye growth rates were excellent for ages 1-4. Walleye natural reproduction in Foot Lake is generally infrequent and insignificant based on previous fall and summer surveys. Walleye fry have been stocked (250,000- 670,000 fish) in Foot every even year since 1982. Young of year "YOY" walleye due to fry stockings have been generally abundant in recent fall electrofishing surveys since 2008. Abundant numbers of YOY walleye were present in the 2014 fall electrofishing survey (216.00 YOY/hour, 5.59 inches average) due to the recent fry stocking (499,182 fish).
Black bullhead numbers were low in 2014 (26.50 fish/gillnet) compared to the historical average (137.26 fish/gillnet), but moderate compared to similar lakes. Low numbers of black bullhead were captured in the 2014 trapnets (0.67 fish/trapnet). The 2014 black bullhead average size was moderate (0.76 pounds and 10.90 inches) from gillnets.
Carp numbers were moderate in 2014 (3.33 fish/trapnet) and similar to the historical average of 3.29 fish/trapnet. The 2014 carp average weight and length were moderate (5.62 pounds and 22.18 inches) from trapnets.
Freshwater drum numbers were moderately abundant in 2014 (6.00 fish/gillnet) compared to the historical average (4.62 fish/gillnet). The freshwater drum average size was moderate (1.11 pounds and 13.12 inches) from gillnets.
Channel catfish were not captured in 2014 gillnets or trapnets. Channel catfish were last captured in 2009 gillnets (0.33 fish/gillnet, 15.35 inches average length). Channel catfish fingerlings (4,891 fish, 75 pounds) were last stocked into Foot in 2013.
Current fish management activities on Foot include protecting the important aquatic habitats such as emergent and submergent vegetation through the permit process, preventing and educating about the spread of invasive species, encouraging land owners to implement best management practices in the watershed, and stocking various fish species as warranted. All fish species in Foot Lake will be surveyed again in the summer of 2019.