Fox Lake is a 1,041-acre lake located in Martin County near the City of Sherburn. Fox Lake has a maximum depth of 20 feet and is not aerated because it typically doesn't experience low oxygen levels. Fox Lake's watershed is relatively small as indicated by a watershed-to-lake ratio of 4 to 1. Watershed improvements and the closing of the diversion have facilitated the return of aquatic vegetation, which provides habitat for several species of fish. Fox Lake provides a unique fishery, in that it is managed primarily for Muskellunge and Walleye and secondarily for Crappie, making it one of two systems in the Windom fisheries management area that provide Muskellunge angling opportunities. An annual survey was conducted on Fox Lake (September 6, 2016) to monitor fish populations using six gill nets and 12 trap nets.
In 2016, the Walleye catch rate was 9.8 per gill net, which exceeds the expected range of catch rates for similar lakes (1.2 to 6.3 per gill net) and was the highest catch rate observed since 1997. Lengths of Walleye ranged from 9.5 to 16.3 inches and averaged 12.3 inches. Growth of Walleye was normal, as mean length at age-3 was 13.6 inches, and Walleyes were plump indicating that food is not limited. Three year classes of Walleye were sampled including Walleye from 2013, 2014, and 2015, which all correspond to stockings of frylings and/or fingerlings. Walleye angling should be good on Fox Lake in the spring of 2017 as a good population is present.
Muskellunge were introduced in Fox Lake in 1999, were stocked in 2001 and have been stocked every other since 2004. No Muskellunge were captured in the annual standard survey because the standard gill nets and trap nets do not effectively sample them. In the 2016 assessment using large frame trap nets, Muskellunge were captured at a rate of 7.4 per set-day, with 80 untagged Muskellunge captured. Muskellunge ranged in length from 34.1 to 50.6 inches and averaged 41.9 inches. The population estimate in 2015 (the last reliable estimate) was 251 adults (183 to 345; 95 Percent CI). Muskellunge provide a unique angling opportunity in southwest Minnesota and provide the opportunity to catch a trophy sized fish.
In 2016, Black Crappie were captured at a rate of 19.4 per trap net, which is within the expected range of catch rates for similar lakes and is greater than the long term average of 12.6 per trap net since 1981. Lengths of Black Crappie ranged from 3.3 to 11.3 inches and averaged 7.4 inches. Black Crappie were fat, indicating that food is not limited for Crappie in Fox Lake. The Black Crappie population appears to be self-sustaining and stable with at least four year classes present in the trap nets. The White Crappie catch rate in 2016 was 1.7 per trap net, which is within the expected range of catch rates for similar lakes and is the first time they have been sampled since 2013. White Crappie lengths ranged from 4.1 to 10.9 inches and averaged 7.5 inches (PSD=30, PSD-P=10), with at least 3 year classes present. Although the two species of crappie can coexist, it appears that Black Crappie are dominating the Fox Lake crappie fishery. Crappie angling should be good in the spring around downed trees and other shallow structure when crappies move into shallow water to spawn.
The Yellow Perch catch rate in 2016 was 30.5 per gill net, which is above the interquartile range of catch rates for class 24 lakes (2.0 to 27.9 per gill net). Lengths of Yellow Perch ranged from 5.8 to 9.5 inches and averaged 7.5 inches. The Freshwater Drum catch rate was 41.8 per gill net, slightly below the long term average of 44.5 per gill net, but higher than the interquartile range of catch rates for class 24 lakes (4.0 to 32.3 per gill net). The Channel Catfish catch rate was 1.7 per gill net. Channel Catfish were large as lengths ranged from 21.5 to 29.6 inches and averaged 24.4 inches. Ten Bluegill, 3.7 to 7.5 inches in length, were sampled in trap nets. Other species sampled included Bigmouth Buffalo, Largemouth Bass, and Common Carp.