Hoot Lake is a 155-acre mesotrophic (moderately fertile) lake located in southwest Otter Tail County and is within the city limits of Fergus Falls, MN. Hoot Lake is part of the Otter Tail River chain of lakes. The river enters the lake along the northeast shoreline and outlets to Wright Lake along the south shoreline. The immediate watershed is composed primarily of residential areas except for a small area north of the lake which is composed of mixed hardwoods and pasture. The maximum depth is 20 feet; however, 41% of the lake is 15 feet or less in depth. The secchi disk reading was 7.5 feet. Previous secchi disk readings ranged from 8.5 to 11.0 feet.
The majority of the shoreline of Hoot Lake is developed with homes. A city owned public water access is located along the south shoreline. Shoal water substrates consist primarily of sand, gravel, and rubble. Hardstem bulrush and wild rice are prevalent around the entire shoreline of the lake. Emergent aquatic plants such as bulrush and wild rice provide valuable fish and wildlife habitat, and are critical for maintaining good water quality. They protect shorelines and lake bottoms, and can actually absorb and break down polluting chemicals. 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.
Hoot Lake can be ecologically classified as a Bass-Panfish-Walleye type of lake and this is reflected in the assemblage of the fish community. Northern Pike, Smallmouth Bass, Walleye, and Bluegill are the dominant gamefish species. The prolificacy of these species can be attributed to the abundance of suitable spawning habitat within the lake and the river connected to it.
Age and length data indicate that Northern Pike reproduction is consistenty good. Northern Pike ranged in length from 19.4 to 28.8 inches with an average length and weight of 22.8 inches and 2.5 pounds. Northern Pike attain an average length of 22.7 inches at four years of age.
Catch data from a spring electrofishing assessment indicate that Smallmouth Bass are very abundant. Age data indicate that Smallmouth Bass reproduction is consistently good. Smallmouth Bass ranged in length from 5.9 to 18.7 inches with an average length and weight of 13.9 inches and 1.2 pounds. Smallmouth Bass attain an average length of 14.6 inches at four years of age. There is a catch and release regulation for Smallmouth Bass on the Otter Tail River and its impoundments which includes Hoot Lake.
Walleye abundance remains moderately high. Walleyes ranged in length from 7.2 to 25.2 inches with an average length and weight of 14.6 inches and 1.2 pounds. Walleyes attain an average length of 16.1 inches at four years of age.
Bluegill abundance remains high; however, size structure is poor. Onlly six percent of the Bluegills were 7.0 inches or greater in length. Bluegills attain an average length of 7.8 inches at five years of age.
Two Lake Sturgeon were sampled. Lake Sturgeon were initially sampled in the 2006 assessment. Lake Sturgeon enter Hoot Lake by downstream movement from Otter Tail Lake where a Lake Sturgeon re-introduction plan was implemented in 2002.
Anglers can maintain the quality of fishing in Hoot Lake 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.
- 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.