What’s that critter in the photo? A sturgeon! Cool! Lake Sturgeon were re-introduced into the Ottertail Lake and river system about 12 years ago. They are a great addition to the lakes residing along the Ottertail River. Even though most of the stocking occurred close to Ottertail Lake, the sturgeon have been making their way up and down the Ottertail River and now can been seen “breaching” the surface on most lakes between West Lost and Big Pine Lake. A question I get often is wether or not they are “good?” Or why were they planted in Ottertail Lake? The best answer I have for those questions is that they are a welcomed species (they are not predators so they don’t eat walleye or other game fish). They eat clams, snails, crayfish, aquatic insect larvae and will even eat Zebra Mussels—I love these fish. Lake Sturgeon can live to be 100 years old. I feel they positively contribute to the diversity of fish species in the lakes on the Ottertail River system. A week ago, an angler aboard my boat had a 60 inch on, but we lost it at the landing net (my net was too small!). All of the sturgeon that I’ve seen caught on Ottertail Lakes Country’s lakes are accidental catches, which is great fun. You just never know what you’re going to catch on the lakes here! They really add to our already-great fisheries in Ottertail Lakes Country! If you catch one, quickly take a photo and release it as soon as you can. They are a catch-and-release only species—you can not keep them. Please read up on your MN fishing regs for more information if you’re interested.
As for the other species in Ottertail County this week. Go get them. Sunfish and crappies are in good summer form located in and around tall vegetation on the edge of flats near deeper water. Use 1/16 oz bladed jigs tipped with 2-3 inch Berkley Gulp fry and minnows. While bass occupy many different parts of our lakes right now, don’t forget about those dandies in deep water on weedy and rocky island tops. Fish them with Texas rigged worms, Carolina rigged slugs, deep diving crank baits or live bait like leeches and crawlers (again look for Berkley Power Baits and Gulp baits). Walleye are tucked into weed stands on many of Ottertail County’s lakes. For easier walleye to pursue, look for the ones on shallow flats with spinners or crank baits, or the walleye situated on deep sandy or rocky islands. Enjoy Lakes Country this week! Don’t forget to drain and inspect your watercraft for weeds and critters when you get off the lake—it’s everyones duty. It all helps. By Ross Hagemeister