Lac qui Parle Lake (LQP) is located three miles southwest of Milan in western Minnesota. It is an impoundment of the Minnesota River and its water level is controlled by Churchill Dam. LQP is a highly productive lake that measures 5,589 acres and has a maximum depth of 15 feet. Watersheds that ultimately drain into LQP include the Upper Minnesota, Yellow Bank, Lac qui Parle, Pomme de Terre and a portion of the Chippewa. LQP is operated as a flood control reservoir and some years water levels will fluctuate by more than five feet. Depending on the timing and extent of the water level fluctuations, fish may experience good or poor natural reproduction.
LQP often provides good Walleye fishing. Fourteen Walleyes were caught per gill net in 2016, indicating a moderate population. The Walleyes were primarily from the 2013 and 2014 year classes and were 13-16 inches. Natural reproduction, downstream migration and fingerling/yearling stockings have contributed to the population. Walleyes have grown slower than normal during recent years, likely due to low food availability. Stomach analyses have indicated that young Walleyes have struggled at times to find adequate forage to insure good growth and condition. LQP experiences extremely high sediment suspension during strong winds, which limits the ability of important food organisms to reproduce and grow. In addition, the highly fluctuating water levels likely affect the ability of many fish species to successfully spawn. These factors impact the production of food that is important for successful growth and recruitment of young Walleyes.
Crappie fishing has been very good for many years. The crappie population has typically been higher when the Walleye population has been lower. High crappie numbers from a wide range of sizes were present in 2016, with many fish over 11 inches. Good fishing for crappies is expected to continue.
Northern Pike were abundant and growing fast with fish sampled up to 38 inches. Anglers reported good catches of pike during 2016. Spearers have also reported good success during recent years.
High numbers of Freshwater Drum were sampled. Smaller drum are important food for other game fish, however larger drum compete with them for resources. Anglers are encouraged to harvest drum. They are good to eat, especially if the small amounts of red meat are trimmed from the fillets. Excellent recipes for cooking drum can be found on the internet by searching "drum recipes".
Channel Catfish were moderately abundant with many fish over 20 inches. Very little angling for catfish has been known to occur. Considering their high numbers and large sizes, catfish enthusiasts should consider a trip to LQP Lake.
Management activities for LQP Lake include annual fish surveys, forage evaluations, monitoring winter dissolved oxygen concentrations, annual ice-house counts and Walleye stocking. Zebra mussels were confirmed to be present during 2016. Anglers are reminded to drain all water from their boat, ballast tanks, bait containers, motor, bilge, livewell and baitwell before leaving the lake. Keep drain plugs out and water-draining devices open while transporting watercraft.
- Zebra Mussel
Recreational activities such as recreational boating, angling, waterfowl hunting, and diving may spread aquatic invasive species. Some aquatic invasive species can attach to boats, while others can become tangled on propellers, anchor lines, or boat trailers. Many species can survive in bilge water, ballast tanks, and motors or may hide in dirt or sand that clings to nets, buckets, anchors, and waders. Fortunately, completing simple steps can prevent the transport of aquatic invasive species.