Sunday, January 29th, 2023
Sunday, January 29th, 2023

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Lake Lizzie, Otter Tail County

Bassin’: largemouth, smallmouth anglers keep busy on Lizzie

By Glen Schmitt
Staff Writer

As part of the Pelican River system, you can be sure Lake Lizzie near Pelican Rapids offers a wide range of fish species in its 1,913 acres of water.

Lizzie’s southern basin is mostly featureless and is suited more to duck hunting than fishing, but it offer produce panfish and bass. The north basin is deeper and more structure-rich, so that’s where the majority of angling opportunities exist. 

Lizzie’s physical characteristics – an abundance of bulrush and cattail stands, along with plenty of submerged vegetation – provide the ideal situation for its bass and panfish to flourish. 

“Lizzie is a great smallmouth (bass) lake that also has a good largemouth (bass) population,” said Jim Wolters, DNR Fisheries supervisor in Fergus Falls. “It’s a really good crappie lake, and it does have nice bluegills, too.”

Largemouth bass reproduction has always been strong in Lizzie, and that trend continues. It’s one of those lakes that consistently kicks out good numbers of largemouths, including plenty of quality fish. 

Smallmouth bass numbers are on the rise, aided by some manmade half-log spawning structures that were placed in the lake in 1999. Those structures still are being used and continue to help build an impressive smallmouth bass population.

“The lake has a lot of bass, and if I were to fish it, that’s what I’d go there for,” said Mickey McCollum, of Lakeland General Store in Pelican Rapids. “Our local bass guys like fishing Lizzie because they can catch largemouth and smallmouth bass. It’s great combo lake with good habitat for both.”

According to Wolters, smallmouths have done so well that they’ve become a primary target among local bass anglers in recent years.

“These are good-sized smallmouths, and it’s at the point now where people are targeting them more than largemouths,” he added.

The lake’s panfish seem to consistently produce strong year-classes as well. Again, an abundance of main-lake and shoreline habitat provide ideal spawning and growing opportunities for Lizzie’s crappies and bluegills.

Bluegill abundance has remained stable in DNR surveys of Lizzie, including the most recent in 1999. Nearly a quarter of the bluegills sampled three years ago were over 7 inches long, with fish over 8 inches in the mix. Crappies don’t show up well in traditional summer surveys, but fish over 12 inches were sampled.

Walleye numbers hit a record low mark during the 2019 survey with gill nets averaging just two walleyes per lift. Historically, Lizzie has been an excellent walleye lake, so the lack of fish is an area of concern for Wolters.

The 31 walleyes netted during the 2019 survey ranged from 10 to 25 inches in length and averaged about 21⁄2 pounds – but there just weren’t a lot of them. The lake is now stocked annually with walleye fry.

“Gill-net catches have been going down since 2010, and Lizzie has kind of turned into a bass/panfish lake,” Wolters said. “It was a good walleye lake in the past, and we’re working on getting their numbers back up.”

Northern pike aren’t overly abundant, and the majority of them in Lizzie run small. The lake also has a few muskies in it – fish that trickle into Lizzie from the other lakes that are part of the system.

McCollum says people do go to Lizzie and fish for muskies. It’s by no means the best muskie lake in the area, but he does hear about a fish being caught occasionally.

It’s also worth noting that the access on Lizzie has been improved in recent years. It was tough to utilize the lake due to poor access conditions, but upgrades have been made to its ramp and parking area.  

Lake Lizzie

Nearest town….Pelican Rapids

Surface area……………1,913 acres 

Maximum depth………….66 feet

Shore length……………….10 miles

Water clarity………………….15 feet

AIS present……….Zebra mussel

Fish species present:

Largemouth bass, smallmouth bass, black crappie, bluegill, walleye, northern pike, muskie, pumpkinseed, hybrid sunfish, tullibee (cisco), bullhead, yellow perch, freshwater drum, white sucker. 

For information:

DNR area fisheries office (218) 671-7954, the DNR website http://www.dnr.state.mn.us/lakefind or Lakeland General Store (218) 863-5703.

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