Elbow is a 1,659 acre, class 7 lake located 7 miles SE of Orr, MN. Maximum depth is approximately 60 feet and 40 percent of the lake is less than 15 feet deep. The water is bog-stained and infertile. Bass, Northern Pike, Panfish, and Walleye dominate the sport-fish community, but the various fisheries investigations on Elbow Lake have generally indicated low abundance.
Fisheries management has primarily focused on species introductions and maintenance stocking. From 1933 to 1955 fry (Walleye) and fingerlings (Smallmouth Bass, Largemouth Bass and Crappie) were stocked in small numbers. Nine times between 1957 and 1980 Walleye fry or frylings were stocked with limited success. Beginning in 1977 until present, Walleye fingerlings were stocked on a biennial basis with better results and more contributions to recruitment.
Black Crappie trap-net abundance was below the normal range for this lake class. Length in trap nets ranged from 4.6 to 7.7 inches and the mean was 6.3. Only three year-classes were present and age ranged from 2 to 4. Eighty-eight percent of the sample was from the 2010 and 2011 year-classes. Only a small sample of fish were available for determining growth rate, but it appeared to be well below the area mean; which was not surprising as Elbow Lake has a history of slow-growing Black Crappie. The mean weight was 0.14 pounds, which was below the normal range for this lake class.
Bluegill trap-net abundance was near the top of the normal range for this lake class. Abundance was a slight decrease from the record set during previous investigation, but was still the second highest value ever recorded for Elbow Lake. Mean length in trap nets was 6.3 inches with a range from 3.2 to 8.9. Many year-classes were present and age ranged from 2 to 8. Thirty-seven percent of the Bluegill captured in trap nets were from the 2008 year-class. Growth was below the area average. The mean weight was 0.22 pounds, which was within the normal range for this lake class.
Northern Pike gill-net abundance was below the normal range for this lake class, but within the range observed in Elbow Lake since the mid 1980's. Length ranged from 20.0 to 34.7 inches and the mean was 26.3. The mean weight was 4.40 pounds, which was well above the normal range for lake class 7.
Walleye gill-net abundance was below the normal range for class 7 lakes, but was within the range historically observed in Elbow Lake. Mean length was 12.9 inches with a range from 7.1 to 19.3. Six year-classes were present and age ranged from 1-9 years. Age-5 fish were the most prominent and represented 39 percent of sample. Ninety-three percent of the Walleyes that were aged were from years that were stocked. Elbow Lake has benefitted from fingerling stocking; natural reproduction is likely not enough to maintain an acceptable sport-fishery. In 2012, growth was much lower than the area mean. The mean weight was 0.81 pounds, which was within the normal range for class 7 lakes.
Yellow Perch gill-net abundance was well below the normal range for this lake type and the second lowest level ever observed in Elbow Lake. Abundance has generally been low for several decades. In 2013, mean length in gill nets was 7.3 inches with a range from 5.7 to 8.7. Growth was similar to the area mean. Four year-classes were present and age ranged from 3-7 years. The mean weight was within the normal range for this lake type.