Wednesday, February 8th, 2023
Wednesday, February 8th, 2023

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Minnesota Lake Profile – Lake Edward, Crow Wing County

Like weeds? Fishing Edward means gettin’ in the thick stuff

 

By Glen Schmitt
Staff Writer

 

Although Lake Edward in Crow Wing County is easily recognized by local anglers, it’s by no means the most popular fishery in the Brainerd lakes area. 

 

While everyone knows where it’s located and that Edward has a strong walleye population, quality largemouth bass, and opportunities for respectable panfish, this 2,574-acre lake near Merrifield just doesn’t get fished that hard.

 

It might simply be the fact that this entire area is littered with lakes and there are plenty of other, very good fishing options that exist. It could also be that Edward is a clear lake with an abundance of weed growth that makes fishing it difficult at times.

 

“Edward just doesn’t get much fishing pressure, even from the locals,” said Glen Belgum, a member of the Nisswa Guide League. “Once the weeds come up – and many of them are undesirable weeds – it’s a hard lake to fish.”

 

Lake Edward doesn’t get choked out by vegetation, and there is plenty of quality cabbage (good vegetation) to work, but Belgum says there’s an abundance of what he calls “skunk weed” that’s not much fun to fish.

 

Unfortunately, that’s where many of the fish, especially walleyes, head to, and they become hard to catch once it starts to grow.

 

“A lot people, including me, don’t like fishing walleyes in weeds,” Belgum said. “It’s just tough to pinpoint them, and those spots hold an abundance of other fish that constantly bother you.”

 

This much is fact: Lake Edward has no shortage of walleyes to be caught. It’s stocked with 2 million walleye fry every year (except this year), the most recent DNR gill-net samples produced 4.4 walleyes per lift, and those fish averaged 17 inches in length.

 

According to Belgum, the key to catching walleyes on Edward is to work the hard-bottom areas in 18 to 25 feet. The quality cabbage weed that exists also is worth looking at in less than 15 feet of water.

 

“Those sand humps or points – and there’s all kinds of those spots – are good now through the fall,” he said. “There’s a beautiful run of 18- to 22-inch walleyes in the lake, so when you get into them, Edward produces nice fish.”

 

The shoreline of Lake Edward is mostly lined with bulrushes, which makes it a good bet for catching largemouth bass, too.

 

The lake holds good numbers of bass, as well as plenty of large bucketmouths. Expect the average length to be somewhere in the vicinity of 13 inches, but Belgum points out that fish over 17 or 18 inches are caught regularly.

 

Ironically, the largemouth in Edward don’t receive much fishing pressure, either. Despite plenty of opportunity, anglers seem to gravitate toward the other bass lakes in this area.

 

“If you like to fish shallow-water bulrushes, the entire lake is lined with them and they hold a lot of bass,” Belgum said. “But it doesn’t get fished for bass at all. Edward is a very under-fished lake for bass in my opinion.”

 

The current status of the panfish population is one of good numbers with some quality fish in the mix. Crappies receive more angler attention than bluegills, with an emphasis on increased fishing pressure this time of year.

 

The bulrushes also attract crappies during the late spring. Once the spawn is done, they head to the cabbage and become more difficult to locate.

 

“Most people don’t fish for them once they’re out of the bulrushes,” Belgum said. “Edward has nice bluegills, too, and 12-inch crappies are very common.”

 

Northern pike are abundant, but most are small. Belgum says you can expect pike bite-offs while you’re fishing for other species.

Lake Edward

Nearest town………….Merrifield

Surface area……………2,574 acres 

Maximum depth………….75 feet

Shore length……………….11 miles

Water clarity……………….12.5 feet

AIS present……….Zebra mussel

 

Fish species present:

Walleye, largemouth bass, black crappie, bluegill, northern pike, pumpkinseed, hybrid sunfish, green sunfish, rock bass, yellow perch, bullhead, white sucker, common carp, bowfin (dogfish). 

 

For information:

DNR area fisheries office (218) 203-4301, the DNR website http://www.dnr.state.mn.us/lakefind or Nisswa Guide League (218) 829-7010.

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