Hunt Lake (190.0 acres) is located in Rice County near the Town of Shieldsville. Residential development has disturbed and altered much of the shoreline on the northwest, west, and southeast sides of Hunt Lake. Remaining natural shoreline is limited to the northeast corner and south shore of the lake. In areas with residential development, lawns are typically maintained to the shores edge, thereby disrupting the natural riparian buffer. A DNR owned boat ramp is located in the northeast corner of the lake. The sport fish community consists of black crappie, bluegill, largemouth bass, northern pike, and yellow perch. Hunt Lake experienced a partial winterkill during the winter of 2010 -2011. Sport fish populations still existed following the winterkill, but were present in low numbers. Northern pike fingerlings and adults have been stocked extensively, being stocked in 2003, 2007, 2009, and 2011. The current management plan calls for 201 pounds of adult northern pike to be stocked when available. Black crappie, bluegill, largemouth bass, and yellow perch populations are maintained through natural reproduction. A population assessment was conducted on 7-23-12 to monitor the sport fish community in Hunt Lake using 6 gill nets and 7 trap nets.
Water quality metrics were collected on 7-23-2012. Hunt Lake was experiencing an algae bloom as the water appeared green in color, and had a secchi depth of 1.0 ft. Dissolved oxygen ranged from 11.3 at the surface to 0.0 at 20.0 ft. Thermal stratification of the water column occurred between 14.0 and 16.0 ft of depth as evidenced by a drop in temperature from 77.9 to 72.3 degrees Fahrenheit.
Primary management species on Hunt Lake include bluegill and black crappie. Past bluegill catch rates in Hunt Lake have been highly variable, ranging from 0.3/trap net in 1983 to 54.8/trap net in 1988. In 2012, bluegill abundance was 14.3/trap net, which is low when compared to similar lakes. Four year classes were sampled (2007, 2008, 2009, and 2011), with age-4 bluegills representing 45% of the sample. Bluegill size structure was good, with fish ranging from 3.0 to 7.8 inches in length and averaged 5.9 inches. Bluegill growth was good, with mean length at age estimates being 3.5 inches at age-1, 6.0 inches at age-3, 6.9 inches at age-4, and 7.5 inches at age-5.
Black crappies were captured at a rate of 23.7/gill net, which is high when compared to similar lakes Past black crappie catch rates have been variable with gill net catch rates ranging from 7.3/gill net in 2007 to 39.0/gill net in 1983. Gill netted black crappie size was small, ranging in length from 0.9 to 8.9 inches and averaging 7.2 inches. Three year classes were sampled (2009, 2010, and 2011), with age-3 (2009 year class) black crappies being the most abundant, representing 52% of the crappies in the sample. Black crappie lengths averaged 4.8 inches at age-1, 6.6 inches at age-2, and 7.6 inches at age-3.
Secondary management species on Hunt Lake include northern pike and largemouth bass. Historically, northern pike have occurred in low numbers in Hunt Lake, as catch rates had not exceeded 2.8/gill net dating back to the 1950's. In 2012, northern pike were very abundant, as they were captured at a rate of 13.5/gill net, which high when compared to similar lakes. Five year classes of northern pike were present in the sample (2006, 2008, 2009, 2010, and 2011), with age-2 and age-3 (2010 and 2009 year classes) northern pike representing 88% of the sample. Since northern pike were stocked as unknown age adults, it cannot be identified which stockings were successful or if natural reproduction has occurred.
The 2012 yellow perch catch rate (17.0/gill net) decreased from the 2007 survey (31.7/gill net), but was more consistent with past catch rates, and was slightly above what is expected for similar lakes. Four year classes of yellow perch were sampled including 2007 (age-5), 2008 (age-4), 2009 (age-3), and 2010 (age-2). Yellow perch were small ranging in length from 6.1 to 9.8 inches and averaging 7.7 inches.
In 2012, black bullheads were very abundant and were caught at a rate of 313.2/gill net, which is high when compared to similar lakes. Historical catch rates of black bullhead have been highly variable as catch rates have ranged from 2.8/gill net in 2001 to 130.0/gill net in 1988. The 2012 catch rate is the highest observed catch rate of black bullhead on Hunt Lake. The majority of black bullheads were small, as 85% of them were less than 7.0 inches in length.
Past surveys have indicated the presence of freshwater drum; however no drum were sampled in 2012. One green sunfish was sampled, the first time their presence has been documented. Bigmouth buffalo, common carp, golden shiner, largemouth bass, walleye, white crappie, yellow bullhead, green sunfish, hybrid sunfish, and pumpkinseed were also present in this survey, but occurred in low numbers.
Anglers can help maintain or improve the quality of fishing by practicing selective harvest. Selective harvest allows for the harvest of smaller fish for table fare, but encourages release of medium- to large-sized fish. Releasing these fish can help maintain balance in the fish community and provide anglers the opportunity to catch more and larger fish in the future.
Shoreline areas on the land and into the shallow water provide essential habitat for fish and wildlife that live in or near Minnesota's lakes. Overdeveloped shorelines cannot support the fish, wildlife, and clean water that are associated with natural undeveloped lakes. Shoreline habitat consists of aquatic plants, woody plants, and natural lake bottom soils.
Plants in the water and at the water's edge provide habitat, prevent erosion, and absorb excess nutrients. Shrubs, trees, and woody debris such as fallen trees or limbs provide good habitat both above and below the water and should be left in place. By leaving a buffer strip of natural vegetation along the shoreline, property owners can reduce erosion, help maintain water quality, and provide habitat and travel corridors for wildlife.
- Eurasian Watermilfoil
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.