ORTONVILLE — It’s no secret that Big Stone Lake has been producing a record number of nice-sized perch this ice fishing season.
In the process it is attracting anglers to this border water lake like never before.
“I tell you the economic impact of that perch population to the Ortonville community is pretty amazing, you get that many people coming out here,’’ said Norm Haukos, fisheries supervisor with the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources in Ortonville.
He’s had calls from Baudette in northern Minnesota to locations in Iowa. And, he suspects by the amount of orange clad anglers he sees that there are folks coming from Wisconsin too.
The good news is that the good fishing should continue, and is likely to pick up as we move in March.
There are four, possibly five good year classes of perch in the lake. Haukos and his fisheries crew saw what was coming a couple of years ago, when they sampled the population by lifting nets. The nets held as many as 256 perch in a lift, as compared to a normal range on the lake of 60 to 80.
The back story is this: The great fishing is all about improved water quality, according to Haukos.
In recent years the fisheries staff has been seeing a marked increase in the amount of rooted, aquatic vegetation in the lake. Water clarity has improved too, he explained.
Many years of efforts to reduce run-off into the lake are starting to show.
Haukos is optimistic that the good fishing should continue for years to come since it is made possible by improved water quality and habitat.
The south end of the lake near Ortonville is the most popular area to fish, but Haukos said the perch are fairly well distributed. Many of the locals have found success by going up the lake and escaping the crowds, he said.
The best bet always is to check in with the local bait shop, or give the fisheries office in Ortonville a call ahead of time.