Albert Lea’s Fountain Lake – and its nice eater-size walleyes – on the menu for ’19 Governor’s Fishing Opener
Call it the quintessential walleye slot lake.
Nearly all of the walleyes netted in the most recent DNR survey on Fountain Lake in Albert Lea were between 12 and 19 inches, with most of those in the 15- to 19-inch category, and the average just under 16 inches.
Perfect eater – and keeper – size.
And it holds some bigger fish, too – the biggest walleye caught in the survey was a respectable 25.5 inches. The survey was conducted in 2015, so plenty of time between then and the 2019 Minnesota fishing opener for those fish to get even bigger.
And so the 2019 season will kick off May 11 on Fountain Lake – it was announced as the host lake for the 72nd annual Minnesota Governor’s Fishing Opener during festivities this past weekend at the ’18 opener on Green Lake near Spicer, in the Willmar Lakes Area. It marks the first time ever that the event will be held in Albert Lea.
— Alyssa Hayes (Ebel) (@ExploreMN_PR) May 12, 2018
About 75 minutes south of the Minneapolis-St. Paul area, Albert Lea, known as “The Land Between the Lakes,” is nestled between Fountain and Albert Lea lakes. The area has 13 lakes, many offering fishing, boating, kayaking and canoeing, Explore Minnesota said in a news release announcing Albert Lea as the host city.
In the heart of Albert Lea, 521-acre Fountain Lake features several bays and is home to 20 species of fish, including walleye, northern pike, largemouth bass, crappie, catfish and yellow perch. It’s a fairly shallow lake, with a maximum depth of 14 feet.
Two walleye year classes dominated the 2015 survey on Fountain – 2013, in which fish averaged just under 15 inches, and the 2011 year class, which averaged just under 19 inches. Walleye fry were stocked in 2015 and 2017, so those fish could approach the size of those in the ’11 and ’13 year classes during that ’15 survey – or around 15 and 19 inches, respectively. Numbers were up slightly from the previous survey in 2011, with a catch rate of 6.2 fish/gill net in ’15.
Although best known as the walleye opener, the fishing opener also kicks off the northern pike season on most Minnesota fisheries. And of the 70 pike netted in the ’15 survey on Fountain, 28 were 20 to 24 inches, two 25 to 29 inches, another two 30 to 34 inches and one between 35 and 39 inches.