Deer Lake is a 457-acre mesotrophic (moderately fertile) lake located in central Otter Tail County approximately five miles north of Battle Lake, MN. Deer Lake is connected to Otter Tail Lake via the Otter Tail River. The immediate watershed is composed primarily of agricultural land interspersed with hardwood woodlots. The maximum depth is 26 feet; however, 67% of the lake is 15 feet or less in depth. The secchi disk reading was 7.8 feet during the 2014 survey. Previous secchi disk readings have ranged from 5.5 to 9.8 feet.
The majority of the shoreline of Deer Lake has been extensively developed. A DNR owned public access is located on the southeast shoreline where the Otter Tail River enters the lake. There are remnant stands of hardstem bulrush and wild rice in the shallow areas of the lake. These emergent plants provide valuable fish and wildlife habitat and are critical in maintaining good water quality. They protect shorelines and lake bottoms from wave erosion and help absorb excess nutrients. Emergent plants also provide critical spawning habitat for several fish species including Northern Pike, Largemouth Bass and panfish. They also serve as important nursery areas for many species of fish. Because of their ecological value, emergent plants cannot be removed without a DNR permit.
A moderate density Northern Pike population exists. Age and length data from recent surveys indicate that Northern Pike reproduction is consistently good. Northern Pike ranged in length from 12.4 to 29.5 inches with an average length and weight of 17.7 inches and 1.1 pounds. Northern Pike attain an average length of 24.3 inches at six years of age.
Catch data indicate that Bluegills are abundant. Bluegill size structure is good with 22% of the sample measuring 7.0 inches or greater in length. Bluegills attain an average length of 7.0 inches at five years of age.
Walleye abundance has remained stable over the recent series of surveys. Walleyes ranged in length from 9.2 to 24.7 inches with an average length and weight of 16.4 inches and 1.6 pounds. Walleyes attain an average length of 14.1 inches at four years of age.
Anglers can maintain the quality of fishing by practicing selective harvest. Selective harvest encourages the release of medium to large-size fish while allowing the harvest of the 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 opportunities to catch more large fish in the future.
- Zebra Mussel
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.