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Washington

Le Sueur County, MN
Le Sueur County, MN
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Washington is located in Le Sueur County, Minnesota. This lake is 1,519 acres in size. It is approximately 51 feet deep at its deepest point. When fishing, anglers can expect to catch a variety of fish including Black Bullhead, Bluegill, Brown Bullhead, Largemouth Bass, Northern Pike, Walleye, White Crappie, Yellow Bullhead, Yellow Perch, Pumpkinseed,.
1,519 acres
LAKE SIZE
51 feet
MAX DEPTH
11.9 miles
SHORELINE
ACCESS
Boat Ramp
FISH TO CATCH
Black Bullhead
Black Crappie
Bluegill
Brown Bullhead
Largemouth Bass
Northern Pike
Walleye
White Crappie
Yellow Bullhead
Yellow Perch
Bigmouth Buffalo
Bluntnose Minnow
Bowfin
Carp
Freshwater Drum
Golden Shiner
Highfin Carpsucker
Hybrid Sunfish
Johnny Darter
Pumpkinseed
Spottail Shiner
White Sucker
NOTE: This list may not be all inclusive of all speices present in Washington.
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STAY 22: Washington
HISTORY AND STATUS OF FISHERY

Introduction
Washington Lake is a 1,519 acre lake located in Le Sueur County about 7 miles northeast of Mankato. Separate basins form Washington Lake into 2 main bays; an east bay and a west bay. The east bay is deeper, with a maximum depth of 51 feet. Two DNR- operated public accesses are available for use; one on the north end of the east bay and one on the southwest corner of the west bay. Washington Lake is a popular lake for angling and recreation. Much of the shoreline has been altered with residential development. Washington Lake is managed primarily for Black Crappie, Largemouth Bass, and Bluegill and secondarily for Northern Pike and Walleye. Walleye is the only fish species that is stocked in Washington Lake. The base stocking plan calls for Walleye fry on odd years.

Washington Lake was surveyed the week of August 8, 2016 by the MN DNR as part of a regularly scheduled monitoring program. This survey included deploying 12 gill nets and 12 trap nets, as well as recording water quality parameters. Since Largemouth Bass are not effectively sampled in nets, electrofishing was conducted on May 24, 2016 to assess the Largemouth Bass population. Additionally, a seining component was added to this survey on August 30, 2016. The main purpose of the seining effort was to assess young Bluegill abundance. Washington Lake is scheduled to be surveyed again in 2019.

Walleye
Walleye were sampled at a rate of 9.3 fish/gill net, which was higher than the long-term average for Washington Lake (4.1 fish/net) and the second highest catch rate on record (10.5 fish/net in 2002). Walleye were also sampled in trap nets at a rate of 3.8 fish/net, which was the highest trap net catch rate on record for Washington Lake. Walleye from both gear types ranged in total length from 7.6 to 27.0 inches and averaged 15.4 inches. About 43% of all Walleye were 15.0 inches or longer. Age-2 Walleye (2014 year class) comprised 47% of all aged fish, which suggested that the 2014 stocking effort was successful. Non-stocked year classes were also present, which resulted from natural reproduction. The average length of walleye at the time they were captured was 8.9 inches at age-1, 12.9 inches at age-2, 16.5 inches at age-3, and 19.2 inches at age-5. Walleye fry were recently stocked in Washington Lake in 2014, 2015, and 2016. Starting in 2017, Walleye fry will be stocked on odd years.

Northern Pike
The Northern Pike catch rate in 2016 was 2.3 fish/gill net, which is near the long-term average for Washington Lake (2.0 fish/net). Northern Pike were also sampled in trap nets at a rate of 1.3 fish/net. The total lengths of fish from both gear types averaged 22.2 inches. The largest fish measured was 31.7 inches. The average length of northern pike at the time they were captured was 18.0 inches at age-1, 22.0 inches at age-2, and 27.9 inches at age-3. Northern Pike are not stocked in Washington Lake, so the population is the result of natural reproduction.

Black Crappie
Black Crappie were sampled in trap nets at a rate of 17.6 fish/net, which marked the highest trap net catch rate on record for Washington Lake. This catch rate was above the long-term average of 11.5 fish/net. Total lengths ranged from 6.9 to 13.0 inches and averaged 9.4 inches, suggesting a high quality size structure. Seventy-five percent of all aged fish were age-2 or age-3. The average length at capture was 6.1 inches at age-1, 8.4 inches at age-2, 10.4 inches at age-3, and 11.5 inches at age-4. These parameters suggest a fast-growing population. Black Crappie are not stocked in Washington Lake, so the population persists through natural reproduction.

Bluegill
The 2016 Bluegill catch rate was 6.6 fish/trap net, which was far below the long-term lake average for Washington Lake (24.7 fish/net). Despite the low abundance, the Bluegill population exhibited a good size structure. The total lengths of Bluegill from trap nets averaged 7.6 inches, with the largest individual measuring 9.6 inches. The average length of Bluegill at the time they were captured was 4.6 inches at age-1, 6.7 inches at age-2, 7.4 inches at age-3, 8.5 inches at age-5, and 9.1 inches at age-6. Numerous young Bluegills (n = 1,867) were sampled in the seining effort completed on August 30, 2016, which suggested that younger year classes are present in Washington Lake and should contribute to the fishery in years to come. The Bluegill population in Washington Lake is completely self-sustaining.

Largemouth Bass
Largemouth Bass are not effectively sampled in traditional gears (gill and trap nets). As a result, targeted sampling using an electrofishing boat is required to assess the population. Electrofishing was conducted on Washington Lake on May 24, 2016 to target Largemouth Bass. The catch rate was 11.2 fish/hour in 2016, which was below the long-term average for Washington Lake (33.5 fish/hour) and the lowest catch rate on record. Largemouth Bass were sampled in trap nets in low abundance (0.7 fish/net). Total lengths of all Largemouth Bass in the survey ranged from 6.2 to 17.3 inches and averaged 14.7 inches, which suggested a quality size structure. Largemouth Bass are not stocked in Washington Lake. Spring electrofishing surveys targeting Largemouth Bass will be completed in conjunction with each Standard Survey on Washington Lake (every three years).

Yellow Perch
The Yellow Perch catch rate in 2016 was 18.2 fish/gill net. This catch rate was above the long-term average for Washington Lake (17.1 fish/net). Total length averaged 6.5 inches and ranged from 5.0 to 9.8 inches. Most fish (63%) measured less than 7.0 inches, so most fish in the survey were small. The average length at capture was 5.7 inches at age-1, 7.3 inches at age-2, 8.0 inches at age-3, and 9.3 inches at age-4. Yellow Perch are an important prey species for predator fish, especially Walleye.

Other Species
Freshwater Drum, often referred to as "sheepshead", were the most abundant fish species sampled in the 2016 Washington Lake survey. A total of 1,207 Freshwater Drum were sampled throughout the survey, which was the by far highest abundance on record. The average length was 13.2 inches and the largest fish was 21.7 inches. Freshwater Drum are native to Minnesota and are often caught on common angling gear. Other fish species sampled throughout the survey included Black Bullhead, Yellow Bullhead, Common Carp, Bowfin, Bluntnose Minnow, Spotfin Shiner, Spottail Shiner, and White Sucker.

Angling Summary
Washington Lake draws anglers primarily targeting Walleye, Black Crappie, and Bluegill. Walleye size structure and abundance was strong in 2016 and shows promise for quality fishing for years to come. Black Crappie and Bluegill abundance is lower than previous years, but the quality size structure makes these species worth targeting. High numbers of young Bluegill in the seines showed potential for stronger year classes in the future.

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 reproduction. This practice helps maintain balance in the fish populations 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. Cattails and bulrushes are particularly beneficial for fish spawning, rearing, and feeding. 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.

-Kip Rounds, Fisheries Specialist

NOTICE: Lake-Link Inc assumes no responsibility or liability for any errors or omissions of the information for Washington. Although we strive to provide the most accurate information as we can the information contained in this page is provided on an "as is" basis with no guarantees of completeness, accuracy, usefulness or timeliness.
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