Horseshoe Lake is a 393 acre lake located in Le Sueur County northeast of the city of Waterville. A DNR owned public access is located on the south side of the lake off County Road 10. Horseshoe Lake has a maximum depth of 26 feet and consists of a shallower northern basin and deeper southern basin.
Horseshoe Lake was surveyed the week of July 1, 2013 as part of a regular monitoring program conducted by Minnesota DNR. This survey consisted of deploying trap and gill nets to monitor the fish community. Black bullhead was the most abundant fish species observed in this survey, with a total of 307 fish caught among all nets. Black bullhead total lengths ranged from 5.0 to 15.0 inches and averaged nearly 9.0 inches.
Black crappie catch rates in the 2013 survey were 8.0 fish/gill net and 1.5 fish/trap net. Overall, the total length of black crappie averaged 6.0 inches and ranged from 4.0 to 10.0 inches. Bluegill abundance was moderate at the time of this survey, with trap nets sampling 25.0 fish/ trap net. The average length of bluegill from trap nets was 5.0 inches, with the largest fish nearly 10.0 inches. Yellow perch abundance in Horseshoe Lake was relatively high in 2013, with a gill net catch rate of nearly 40.0 fish/gill net. The average length of yellow perch from gill nets was over 6.0 inches and the largest fish sampled was nearly 11.0 inches.
Horseshoe Lake continues to offer a quality northern pike and walleye fishery. Gill net catch rates were over 5.0 northern pike/net. Northern pike from gill nets averaged nearly 24.0 inches in length and ranged from 18.0 to 30.0 inches, with an average weight of 3.2 pounds. Walleye abundance was very strong during the 2013 survey. Gill nets catch rates averaged 9.5 walleye/gill net, which is above average for similar lakes in the area. The average length of walleye from gill nets was over 18.0 inches, ranging from 15.0 to 22.0 inches. Walleye fry are stocked in Horseshoe Lake two of every three years.
Largemouth bass were scarce during this survey, with only 2 fish collected overall. However, largemouth bass are not effectively sampled with the gear types used in this survey so this is not a good representation of the largemouth population in Horseshoe Lake. Spring electrofishing would be the preferred method to assess the largemouth bass population in Horseshoe Lake; however, electrofishing was not conducted in 2013. Other fish species collected in low numbers included freshwater drum, common carp, yellow bullhead, and green sunfish.
Anglers can play an important role in maintaining or improving a fish population by practicing selective harvest. Selective harvest allows for the harvest of smaller fish for consumption, while encouraging the release of medium to large fish that may contribute to natural recruitment. This practice helps maintain balance in the fish community and provides anglers the opportunity to catch more and larger fish in the future. Additionally, smaller fish often taste better and have fewer contaminants than larger, older fish from the same water body.
Shoreline property owners also play an important role in the overall health of an aquatic ecosystem, including the fish population. Natural shorelines, including vegetation, woody debris, and bottom substrates, provide valuable habitat for fish and wildlife, help maintain water quality, and reduce bank erosion. By leaving natural shorelines unaltered or restoring them to natural conditions, shoreline property owners are doing their part to maintain or improve a healthy ecosystem in the lake and protect the resource for future generations.
-Prepared by: Kip Rounds, Fisheries Specialist
- Flowering Rush
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.