Buchanan Lake is a 929-acre mesotrophic (moderately fertile) lake located in east-central Otter Tail County approximately two miles north of Ottertail, MN. The lake has a maximum depth of 42 feet; however, 90% of the lake is less than 15 feet in depth. The secchi disc reading in this assessment was 11.8 feet. Previous secchi disk readings have ranged from 3.0 to 11.0 feet.
Shoreline development is considered to be moderate on Buchanan Lake. A state owned public access is located on the northwest shoreline. The immediate watershed is composed primarily of agricultural land interspersed with hardwood woodlots. Shoreline substrates consist primarily of sand. Mucky areas are confined to the bays. Hardstem bulrush and common cattails are located in various locations around the lake. They provide valuable fish and wildlife habitat and are critical for maintaining good water quality. Emergent plants provide spawning areas for fish such as Northern Pike, Largemouth Bass, and panfish. They also serve as important nursery areas for all species of fish. Because of their ecological value, emergent plants may not be removed without a DNR permit. To maintain the excellent water quality and angling that this lake has to offer, it is imperative to preserve the quality of the aquatic habitat.
Buchanan Lake can be ecologically classified as a bass-panfish type of lake and this is reflected in the assemblage of the fish community. Northern Pike, Largemouth Bass, Bluegill, and Black Crappie are the dominant gamefish species. Suitable spawning habitat for these species exists throughout the lake.
Buchanan Lake boasts an abundant Northern Pike population. Northern Pike ranged in length from 13.4 to 28.0 inches with a mean length of 19.2 inches. Northern Pike attain an average length of 20.6 inches at five years of age.
Bluegills are very abundant. Twenty-one percent of the Bluegills measured 7.0 inches or greater in length. Bluegills attain an average length of 6.3 inches at five years of age.
Age data indicate that Black Crappie reproduction is consistently good. Crappies ranged in length from 3.7 to 11.1 inches with an average length of 7.6 inches. Black Crappies attain an average length of 8.5 inches at five years of age.
A balanced Largemouth Bass population exists. Largemouth Bass ranged in length from 9.7 to 18.6 inches with an average length and weight of 13.5 inches and 1.5 pounds. Largemouth Bass attain a mean length of 13.9 inches at five years of age.
Walleyes are moderately abundant. Walleyes ranged in length from 14.3 to 26.3 inches with an average length and weight of 22.1 inches and 3.9 pounds. Walleyes attain an average length of 14.8 inches at four years of age.
Anglers can maintain the quality of angling by practicing selective harvest. Selective harvest encourages the release of medium to large size fish while allowing the harvest of more abundant smaller fish for table fare. Releasing the medium to large fish will ensure that the lake will have enough spawning age fish on an annual basis and will provide anglers with more opportunities to catch large fish in the future.