Crawford Lake is a small (109 acres), shallow, recreational lake which had a history of winterkills. The lake was reclaimed with rotenone in 1998 and restocked with walleye, yellow perch, largemouth bass, bluegill, and black crappie. Subsequent netting revealed that black bullheads had not been eliminated, but that sport species which had been stocked were reproducing. Angling regulations went into effect March 1, 2000 which limit the daily and harvest possession to 5 sunfish, 5 crappie, 2 walleye and 10 yellow perch per day. Only catch and release is allowed for largemouth bass. Walleye and largemouth bass are the primary management species and aeration equipment is now available to prevent winterkill. This was the first assessment since the 2004 survey, though electrofishing for largemouth has occurred annually since 2001.
Walleye fingerling/yearling/adult stocking occurred in 2002, 2005 and 2007. This stocking has resulted in a modest population.
The catch rate of yellow perch was below the normal range, and less than 2004. Approximately 75 pounds of adult yellow perch were removed both in 2003 and 2004 (1,586 perch total). The perch were used to establish populations in School Section Lake, Stearns County, and Slough Lake, Wright County, respectively. Northern pike have not been present in Crawford Lake since the reclamation so it is not clear why the perch population has declined.
Electrofishing for largemouth has shown increasing catch rates and proportional stock size since reintroduction. The catch per unit of effort has increased nearly every year and was above the average catch for Wright County lakes. The average length of largemouth bass has increased as well. The growth of largemouth is near the statewide average. Bass grow to a length of 12 inches in five years. Anglers have reported excellent catch and release fishing for largemouth bass.
Bluegill were abundant but somewhat less so than the catch of 2004. All of the bluegill were less than 6.8 inches. Despite the special regulations a memorable sunfish fishery has not developed. Hybrid sunfish and pumpkinseed were both less abundant than in 2004 also. Growth of bluegill was similar to the statewide average and bluegill reached a length of nearly six inches in five years.
The catch rate of black crappie was below the average range for the lake class. In fact no crappie were taken in trap nets and only two in gill nets. This was similar to 2004 when the catch was also low. The crappie fishery has never developed since the reclamation. Prior to aeration stocked crappies flourished and provided a memorable fishery.
Black bullheads exhibited a profound change (2.8/trap net) since 2004 (92.2/trap net). Of the 14 bullheads taken in trap nets the average length was 11.1 inches.
Adult channel catfish were stocked in 2005 and 2006 (84 and 79, respectively). It is possible that catfish are displacing bullheads. Other factors have also influenced the decline. Two channel catfish were taken with trap nets and one in gill nets.
Overall, were pleased with the direction of the fishery. A quality largemouth bass population exists. Bullheads and hybrid and pumpkinseed sunfish have declined. The next years will show if bluegill will grow to larger sizes.