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CURRENTLY 12°
PARTLY CLOUDY
WINDS NORTHWEST @ 16MPH
HUMIDITY 52%
VISIBILITY 7MI
DEW POINT -3°

Big Swan

Meeker County, MN
Meeker County, MN
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Big Swan is located in Meeker County, Minnesota. This lake is 684 acres in size. It is approximately 32 feet deep at its deepest point. When fishing, anglers can expect to catch a variety of fish including Black Bullhead, Bluegill, Brown Bullhead, Channel Catfish, Green Sunfish, Largemouth Bass, Northern Pike, Smallmouth Bass, Walleye, White Crappie, Yellow Bullhead, Yellow Perch, Pumpkinseed,.
683 acres
LAKE SIZE
32 feet
MAX DEPTH
11 feet
AVG DEPTH
6.3 miles
SHORELINE
ACCESS
Boat Ramp
FISH TO CATCH
Black Bullhead
Black Crappie
Bluegill
Brown Bullhead
Channel Catfish
Green Sunfish
Largemouth Bass
Logperch
Northern Pike
Smallmouth Bass
Walleye
White Crappie
Yellow Bullhead
Yellow Perch
Bigmouth Buffalo
Bluntnose Minnow
Bowfin
Brook Silverside
Carp
Common Shiner
Fathead Minnow
Hybrid Sunfish
Johnny Darter
Pumpkinseed
Shorthead Redhorse
Silver Redhorse
Smallmouth Buffalo
Spottail Shiner
White Sucker
NOTE: This list may not be all inclusive of all speices present in Big Swan.
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PLACES TO SAY
STAY 22: Big Swan
HISTORY AND STATUS OF FISHERY

A standard survey was conducted at Big Swan in 2016 to monitor the lake's fish population. A total of 18 species, plus Hybrid Sunfish, were sampled in the gill nets, trap nets, and by spring night-time electrofishing. The lake was stratified, on 8/08/16, with the dissolved oxygen concentration falling below 2 mg/l at 18', limiting fish usage of deep water. Water clarity was poor with a secchi disk reading of 2.5 feet, due to an algae bloom. Curlyleaf Pondweed was abundant in the southern basin and the shallows along the west shore during spring night-time electrofishing sampling in May. Anglers may need to adjust their tactics when fishing around this aquatic invasive species, until it dies back in late June.

Gill nets sampled moderate to high numbers of Northern Pike (77) for a catch rate of 8.6/net, which was above the normal range for this type of lake, or what we would expect from lakes similar to Big Swan Lake. The 2013 catch rate was similar at 9.4/net. Net catches in 2013 and 2016 were the two highest ever measured at Big Swan. Historic catch rates from 1971 to 2016 (n=11) were variable, ranging from 0.5 to 9.4/net with an average of 4.6. Historically, recruitment could be classified as low (0-4.9/net) at Big Swan, but recent catch rates indicated that Northern Pike numbers could be on the increase. In 2016, gill netted Northern Pike were 16.9 to 32.6 inches long with an average of 21.6. Approximately 49% of the gill net sample was 21 inches or longer while 11% were 28 inches or longer, indicating a quality size structure. Northern Pike were age-1 to age-6, with five year classes being present. Age-1 and age-2 fish were well represented accounting for 39% and 45% of the gill net aged fish, respectively. Growth would be considered moderate or fast.

Trap nets sampled low numbers (27) of Black Crappie for a catch rate of 2.5/net, which was within the normal range for lakes similar to Big Swan. The 2013 catch rate was also low (3.6/net). Catch rates from 1971 to 2016 (n=12) were highly variable, ranging from 0.0 to 100.2/net with an average of 17.8. Trap netted Black Crappie were 2.4 to 11.0 inches long with an average of 7.2. Approximately 22% of the trap net catch was 9 inches or longer. Gill nets sampled low numbers of Black Crappie (56) for a catch rate of 6.2/net, which was within the normal range for this type of lake. The 2013 gill net catch rate was similar (6.8/net). Catch rates from 1971 to 2016 (n=11) were variable, ranging from 0.0 to 34.0/net with an average of 14.2. Gill netted Black Crappie were 5.6 to 13.6 inches long with an average of 8.1. Approximately 32% of the gill net sample was 9 inches or longer, indicating a quality size structure. Black Crappie (all gears) were Age-0 to age-5, with six year classes present. Age-1 fish were most abundant, accounting for 62% of the gill net sample. This data also indicated inconsistent recruitment in recent years. Growth was fast. Extreme water level fluctuations, could explain the high variability in trap nets catches over the decades, likely indicating that gill nets provide more reliable data on Black Crappie at Big Swan.

Gill nets sampled high numbers of Walleye (79) for a catch rate of 8.8/net, which was above the normal range for lakes similar to Big Swan. Walleye were the most abundant fish sampled by gill nets in 2016. The 2013 catch rate was much lower (3.8/net). Catch rates from 1971 to 2016 (n=11), under various stocking regimes, were variable ranging from 0.0 to 13.7/net with an average of 4.3. In 2016, gill netted Walleye were 12.5 to 25.8 inches long with an average of 16.5. Approximately 70% of the gill net catch was 15 inches or longer, indicating a quality size structure. Walleye were age-2 to age-15 with eight year classes present. The 2014 year class was ranked as strong, accounting for 50% of the gill net catch and may have been the result of the large fall yearlings (1.3/pound) stocked in 2015. The 2013 year class was also strong, making up 37% of the gill net catch and could have resulted from the fingerlings (45/pound) stocked that year. All other year classes were considered to be weak. Growth was fast. The current stocking regime (676 pounds of fingerlings every other year) was initiated in 2009. Additional yearlings were stocked in 2011 and only yearlings were stocked in 2015 due to fingerling shortages. Non-stocked year classes (n=6), age-1 to age-15, in the stocking regimes accounted for 4% of gill net aged walleye. The contribution from natural reproduction during stocked years (fingerling/yearling) was unknown, indicating that natural reproduction or immigration was occurring. Gill net catches during the latest stocking regime (2013 and 2016) ranged from 3.8 to 8.8/net with an average of 6.3. The lake's connection to the North Fork of the Crow River, and possible immigration of river Walleye, makes it difficult to properly evaluate Walleye stocking and natural reproduction at Big Swan. Higher numbers of Northern Pike, in 2013 and 2016 (average of 9.0/net), may be negatively affecting Walleye recruitment at Big Swan.

Gill nets sampled high numbers of Channel Catfish (70) for a catch rate of 7.8/net. The 2013 catch rate was 12.0/net. Historic catch rates, from 1971 to 2016 (n=11), were variable, ranging from 0.0 to 12.0/net with an average of 3.9. In 2016, Channel Catfish were 13.5 to 27.5 inches long with an average of 19.8. Approximately 93% of the gill net catch was 15 inches or longer, indicating a quality size structure. The gill net size distribution indicated that multiple year classes were present. Channel Catfish were last stocked in 1994, indicating that the population is now 100% sustained by natural reproduction. A connection to the North Fork of the Crow River allows this species to move into and out of Big Swan freely. Channel Catfish are easy to catch and their white flesh is tender and juicy. They can also be filleted, just like a Walleye.

Trap nets sampled low numbers of Bluegill (62) for a catch rate of 5.6/net which was below the normal range for lakes similar to Big Swan. The 2013 catch rate was also low (1.5/net). Catch rates from 1971 to 2016 (n=12) were mostly low, ranging from 0.2 to 19.3/net, with an average of 4.0. Eleven out of twelve of the historic trap net catch rates were below the normal range for this classification of lake. In 2016, trap netted Bluegill were 1.5 to 8.3 inches long with an average of 4.3. Approximately 3% of the catch was 7 inches or longer, indicating a poor size structure. Gill nets sampled fish up to 8.4 inches in length. Bluegill were not aged, but size distribution data indicated that multiple year classes were present. Recruitment was inconsistent. Widely varying water levels may limit trap netting efficiency (especially low water years), at Big Swan. As in past years, marginal submergent vegetation habitat was likely limiting Bluegill at Big Swan.
Spring night-time electrofishing sampled low numbers (8) Largemouth Bass for a catch rate of 6.4/hr. The 2007 catch rate was similar (7.2/hr.). Catch rates (n=4) from 1994 to 2016 were all low, ranging from 0.0 to 7.2/hr. with an average 4.6. Largemouth Bass were 10.1 to 17.4 inches long with an average of 11.8. Largemouth Bass (electrofished and trap netted) were age-1 to age-6 with four year classes present. Growth was fast. Data indicated inconsistent recruitment for this species. Largemouth Bass were likely not doing well for the same reasons that the Bluegill were not flourishing (marginal submergent vegetation habitat).

Gill nets sampled low numbers (6) of Smallmouth Bass for a catch rate of 0.7/net, which was within the normal range for this type of lake. The catch rate in 2013 was similar (0.8/net). Catch rates from 1971 to 1994 (n=6) were all 0 and catch rates from 1997 to 2016 (n=5) ranged from 0.1 to 0.8/net with an average of 0.4. That data also indicated an upward trend in abundance over the last 20 years at Big Swan, although numbers were still considered to be low. Gill netted fish were 9.6 to 19.4 inches long with an average of 13.5. Smallmouth Bass (all gears) were age-1 to age-7 with three year classes present. Smallmouth Bass were not sampled during spring night-time electrofishing.

Gill nets sampled low numbers of Yellow Perch (25) for a catch rate of 2.8/net, which was within the normal range for this type of lake. The 2013 catch rate was also low (0.3/net). Catch rates from 1971 to 2016 (n=11) were highly variable ranging from 0.0 to 37.5/net with an average of 7.6. Yellow Perch were 5.5 to 8.5 inches long with an average of 6.7. Approximately 23% of the catch was 8 inches or longer. Yellow Perch scales were not aged.

Trap nets sampled high numbers of Common Carp (60) for a catch rate of 5.5/net, which was well above the normal range for this type of lake. Historic catch rates (n=12) from 1971 to 2016 were highly variable, ranging from 0.1 to 37.0/net with an average of 6.3. Trap netted Common Carp were 11.5 to 29.9 inches long with an average of 19.8. Gill nets sampled high numbers of Common Carp (40) for a catch rate of 4.4/net, which was also above the lake's normal range. Historic gill net catch rates were mostly high, ranging from 0.3 to 57.0/net with an average of 12.2. Gill netted Common Carp were 11.6 to 26.1 with an average of 19.3. Size distribution data indicated that multiple year classes were present. High numbers of Common Carp, over the last 45 years, have likely had significant negative impacts on submergent plant abundance and water quality in Big Swan Lake. Common Carp would likely be difficult to control due to the highly connected watershed that Big Swan was part of.

Gill nets sampled low numbers (11) of Black Bullhead for a catch rate of 1.2/net, which was below the normal range for lakes similar to Big Swan. The 2013 catch rate was 0.8/net. Historic catch rates from 1971 to 2016 (n=11) were highly variable, ranging from 0.8 to 109.5/net with an average of 42.8. Gill netted Black Bullhead were 5.6 to 14.5 inches long with an average of 8.4. Trap nets sampled low numbers (2) of Black Bullhead for a catch rate of 0.2/net which was below the lake's normal range. Trap netted Black Bullhead had an average length of 6.2 inches. In recent years, some area lakes have experienced declines in Black Bullhead abundance and a similar shift seems to have occurred at Big Swan (2007 to 2016 time period). Since 2007, the average gill net catch rate (1.3/net) was much lower than the average from the 1971 to 2002 time period (58.4/net). The exact cause of this shift was unknown, but could be related to increasing numbers of predatory Channel Catfish.

Additional species sampled in the standard gear included; Bigmouth Buffalo, Bowfin, Green Sunfish, Hybrid Sunfish, Pumpkinseed Sunfish, Shorthead Redhorse, Silver Redhorse, White Sucker, and Yellow Bullhead.

NOTICE: Lake-Link Inc assumes no responsibility or liability for any errors or omissions of the information for Big Swan. 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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