Harris Lake is a 67 acre lake within Superior National Forest with 44 (65%) acres of littoral area and a maximum depth of 38 feet. The lake is located east of Whiteface Reservoir. The lake is accessible by a rugged 3/4 mile long trail off of the Northeast Grade. Walleye fingerlings have been stocked in odd years since 2003. Harris Lake was last assessed in 2003. Harris was surveyed during 2010 to update information about fish populations and to evaluate the success of the walleye stocking program.
Walleye abundance of 3.7 per gillnet lift was up from 2003 (1.7) and was average compared to other Minnesota lakes of similar type. Walleye average length was 15.1 inches and growth was average when compared to other Duluth Area lakes. All year-classes from 2002 to 2009 were represented except 2004, 2005 and 2006. One exceptionally old individual was captured from the 1989 year-class. Seventy percent of the walleyes aged were from the 2007 year-class. Ninety-three percent of the walleyes aged corresponded to stocked year-classes.
Northern pike abundance of 1.8 per gillnet lift was up from 2003 (0.5) and average compared to other Minnesota lakes of similar type. Historically, the northern pike CPUE has been low in Harris and has ranged from 0.3 (1996) to 4.0 (1974). Average length was good at 28.6 inches and growth was very fast compared to other Duluth Area lakes. Growth rates of northern pike from Harris are currently the fastest documented in the Duluth Area. All year-classes from 2004 to 2007 were represented, with one exceptionally large fish (45 inches) from the 2000 year-class sampled.
Bluegill abundance of 23.4 per trapnet lift was up from 2003 (12.4) and average when compared to other Minnesota lakes of similar type. Average length of sampled bluegills was 4.9 inches and growth was slow compared to other Duluth Area lakes. All year-classes from 2001 to 2007 were represented. Special 1/4" trapnets captured 1 YOY bluegill with a length of 1.0 inch.
Yellow perch abundance of 37.3 per gillnet lift was up substantially from 2003 (2.8) and was above average compared to other Minnesota lakes of similar type. Average length of perch was 6.4 inches and growth was average when compared to other Duluth Area lakes. Perch from all year-classes from 2003 through 2009 were represented, except 2008. The 2005 and 2006 year-classes were strong, contributing to 92% of the overall sample size. Special 1/4" trapnets captured 1 YOY yellow perch with a length of 1.9 inches.
Other fish species sampled included blacknose shiner, golden shiner, hybrid sunfish, pumpkinseed sunfish and white sucker.
Information was collected on aquatic vegetation, substrate and water quality. Twenty-three aquatic plant species or species groups were identified along 10 transects. Bushy pondweed, large-leaf pondweed and sweetgale were the most frequently found plant species (90% of transects) followed by floating-leaf pondweed, ribbon-leaf pondweed and the sedge group (80% of transects). The most common substrate types were boulder, rubble and detritus which were identified along 100%, 80% and 60% of the transects, respectively. Results of laboratory water analysis indicate Harris is an alkaline, moderately soft water lake with low fertility.
Harris Lake was included in an index of biotic integrity (IBI) assessment in 2010. In addition to standard gillnets and trapnets, beach seines and backpack electrofishing equipment were used to index species richness of the nearshore lake habitat.