Horseshoe Lake is a small, 118 acre lake east of Browerville with a maximum depth of 24 feet. The lake resides in a watershed that is predominantly agricultural. Water clarity was good in the middle of June with a secchi disk reading of 15 feet. The lake has some shallow water bays as well as weedlines to look for fish. Some anglers were observed fishing from docks both at the public access and the swimming beach. Fisheries management focus on the lake is for northern pike, largemouth bass, walleye, and bluegill.
Northern pike abundance showed an increase since the last survey and anglers can expect high catch rates of small to medium size pike. While the pike population is dominated by "hammerhandles", some nicer fish can be found. The majority of the pike sampled were between 15 and 19 inches in length with the average size being about 17 inches or around 1 pound. Anglers should consider keeping northern pike less than 24 inches as a harvestable surplus of small fish exists. Reducing the population of small pike could be beneficial to the entire fish community.
Horseshoe Lake has a healthy largemouth bass population. As in many lakes, small to medium size fish are the most common, but bass up to 18 inches were documented. Walleye stocking sustains the fishery in the lake and usually occurs in odd-numbered years if the fish are available. Presently abundance appears to be at a lower level than desired for the lake but for those anglers lucky enough to hook into one, it's likely to be of decent size. The average walleye captured in the survey was about 19 inches or around 2.8 pounds. High pike numbers can reduce survival of juvenile walleye as well as suppress yellow perch abundance. Yellow perch can be an important prey species for both northern pike and walleye and have also been found to be instrumental in helping maintain a well-balanced bluegill population with fast growing, quality individuals. Yellow perch abundance appears to be about the same as in the last survey, which was near the lower end of the normal range for this type of lake.
Bluegill are abundant in Horseshoe Lake and small fish dominate the population as the average size was about 5 inches. There were some bluegill over 7 inches noted in the survey but finding them could be a challenge. Black crappies are also present in the lake but few were seen in the summer survey which was not that unusual. Crappies can be difficult to catch with standard lake survey gear. Other panfish species found in the lake include pumpkinseeds and hybrid sunfish. The pumpkinseed sunfish were not as abundant as the bluegills but some nice size fish up to 8 inches were measured.
Brown bullheads were the only bullhead species caught in this survey with some quality individuals over 12 inches sampled. Bowfin or dogfish are present and can provide anglers with a good fight when hooked. Bowfin can be an efficient predator on small bluegills and help to reduce stunting.
Neascus or black spot was common on the bluegill and northern pike which may make the fish less desirable to anglers. Neascus is a trematode or parasite that is usually found in the skin of the fish. The life cycle of the parasites also includes snails and fish-eating birds, such as herons and bitterns. Skinning the fish removes most of the parasites and cooking will kill the rest. Humans cannot be infested.
Protecting the lake's water quality should be a high priority of the lakeshore owners and lake association. Buffer strips along the inlets and around the lake would help reduce nutrient run-off to the lake. Keeping grass clippings and raked leaves out of the water and the common sense use of lawn fertilizers would also help sustain good water quality by reducing nutrients entering the lake.