Wednesday, February 1st, 2023
Wednesday, February 1st, 2023

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Webb Lake, Cass County

Crappie numbers still strong in what’s now become Webb of pike

By Glen Schmitt
Staff Writer

There was a time when Webb Lake near Hackensack was known as a pretty good walleye fishery. But as its perch population dwindled and its pike numbers increased, maintaining a healthy walleye population became a difficult task.

The cupboard isn’t completely bare on the walleye front these days, but there’s no question that this Cass County lake is now more recognized for its panfish- and bass-fishing opportunities.

Crappies are often the main draw on Webb, and the lake can usually be counted on to produce a respectable mess of  fish for the table. Don’t expect to catch giant slabs from Webb, but crappies in the 10-inch class come pretty easily at times.

“There’s good crappie fishing out there, especially during the spring and winter, although summer can be good, too,” said Aaron Regier, of Swanson’s Bait and Tackle in Hackensack. “Crappies in the 9- to 10-inch class are typical, with some bigger fish mixed in. I’d say Webb is one of the go-to lakes in this area for crappies.”

Crappies up to 12 inches were sampled during a DNR survey last spring. There weren’t many of them, but the status of the lake’s crappie population seems to be on the usual trajectory: good numbers of keepers and plenty of short fish coming up.

Bluegills also are available in good numbers, although they don’t receive nearly as much attention from anglers as do the lake’s crappies.

The bluegills in Webb typically average about 6 inches in length with enough 7- to 8-inchers tossed in for people to keep. Bluegills over 8 inches are pretty rare.

“Bluegill numbers are good and you can pull some to keep, but most people target the crappies,” Regier added.

The lake’s healthy vegetation, both shallow and deep, provides ideal habitat for Webb’s largemouth bass. It also offers anglers an abundance of spots to catch them.

DNR electrofishing work this past spring produced an average of 99 bass per hour. That was the highest number of largemouth bass ever recorded on Webb.

Bass in the 10- to 15-inch range are most common, and although there weren’t many big fish sampled during the spring, 4-pounders are caught here.

“The lake has a very healthy bass population. Webb is a bass/panfish lake by design,” said Doug Schultz, DNR Fisheries supervisor in Walker. “We didn’t see (any) 18-inch bass this spring, but I know they’re out there.”

Northern pike numbers were extremely high during a standard DNR assessment this spring. Rising pike numbers have been the trend in past surveys of Webb as well. 

Gill nets averaged 20 pike per lift, and although 10 pike between 30 and 35 inches were sampled, the size structure was heavy on the hammer-handle type of fish.  

“You might catch the occasional 5- to 8-pounder, but there’s a good amount of short stuff to fish through,” Regier said. 

With the lake’s northern pike density as high as it is, it’s become increasingly more difficult for the DNR to manage and maintain Webb’s walleye population. 

There is some natural walleye reproduction that occurs, and the lake has been on an every-other-year walleye fry-stocking regimen, which was recently changed to fingerling stocking. 

The hope is that stocking slightly larger walleyes will allow more of them to escape the jaws of the northern pike. Gill nets averaged less than two walleyes per lift earlier this year.

“Webb has a low-density walleye population and we have some recruitment challenges out there,” Schultz said. “Stocking (walleye) fry clearly wasn’t working, so we’re trying to figure it out.”  

Webb Lake

Nearest town………Hackensack

Surface area………………720 acres 

Maximum depth………….84 feet

Shore length…………………7 miles

Water clarity………………….16 feet

Fish species present:

Black crappie, bluegill, largemouth bass, northern pike, walleye, pumpkinseed, smallmouth bass, hybrid sunfish, rock bass, yellow bullhead, yellow perch, white sucker. 

For information:

DNR area fisheries office (218) 547-1683, the DNR website or Swanson’s Bait and Tackle (218) 675-6176.

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