Dean Lake is located 3.5 miles southeast of the city of Buffalo in southeastern Wright County. A public access with limited parking is located on the east side of the lake, adjacent to County Road 14. The lake is 173 acres, has an average depth of 10.4 feet and a maximum depth of 20 feet. The lake has poor water clarity and experiences heavy summer algal blooms. Dean Lake has experienced winterkills in the past, but not since 1997. Since 2002 aeration equipment has been available. It was used in 2009 and 2010 to prevent winterkill.
Walleye abundance was below average in 2011. This was a reflection of poor walleye fry survival from 2002 to 2004. The stocking of larger fingerlings and yearlings between 2005 and 2007 did not contribute appreciably to the fishery. Nonetheless, signs of an improving walleye fishery exist in Dean Lake. The 2009 fingerling stocking was successful. A large number of small walleye between 7 and 9 inches were sampled during spring electrofishing. However, these fish were too small to be effectively sampled by gill nets during the July netting. The average length and weight of walleye sampled was 15 inches and 1.5 pounds and growth was fast. The largest individual sampled was nearly 24 inches.
Few northern pike were captured, but the average size (25 inches, 3.5 pounds) was good and growth rates were high. Yellow perch were more abundant than expected for this lake type, likely resulting in the high growth rates observed for walleye and northern pike.
The catch rate of largemouth bass was over 1.5 times higher than the day-time electrofishing average for Montrose Area lakes. The average size was 11.5 inches and growth was faster than average. The largest individual was 19.5 inches.
Black crappie abundance was above average with over 1,300 crappies sampled. The average length was nearly 8 inches and the largest crappie captured was 11 inches. Bluegill abundance was above average. The average length of bluegill was 7 inches and growth was above average.
Smallmouth and white bass were sampled in low numbers. This is the second record of a white bass in Wright County. The first record was an angler-reported white bass in 2003, also from Dean Lake.
Sportfish have benefitted from the successful winter aeration in recent years and fishing should be good for walleye and panfish in the near future. Land and lakeshore owners within the watershed can help improve water quality by using best management practices to reduce run-off and nutrient input to the lake.