Whatever fish you choose, you likely can find in Andrusia
By Glen Schmitt
Lake Andrusia is a prolific link in the popular Cass Lake Chain of Lakes in Beltrami County. It’s an excellent multi-species fishery that’s noted for a consistently strong walleye population, with panfish, pike, and muskies providing excellent secondary angling options.
The Mississippi River runs in and out of Andrusia, and fish move between the various lakes within the chain. The lake has ideal spawning habitat for walleyes, so natural reproduction tends to be strong.
The DNR also strips walleyes each spring upstream from Andrusia, and a percentage of those hatched fish are returned to the lake. That annual stocking regimen along with natural recruitment bode well for maintaining a healthy walleye population.
“It’s a dandy little lake to fish for walleyes, and it’s not as pressured as Cass. It has really nice crappies and jumbo perch, too,” said Bemidji-area fishing guide Dick Beardsley. “I always seem to do well out there for good numbers of eating-size walleyes – 15- to 18-inchers.”
That seems to be the lake’s reputation as a walleye fishery: a consistent producer of fish fit for the table. The bite starts early in the season, often with elbow-to-elbow fishing at its inlet and outlet areas, but holds up throughout the main lake the rest of the year as well.
In the most recent DNR survey, conducted in 2019, gill nets averaged just over five walleyes per lift. Not surprisingly, they averaged just under 15 inches in length, which means the lake currently has plenty of eaters in it.
“Our walleye catch rate was actually down a bit compared to previous assessments, but the lake is still set up pretty good,” said Andy Thompson, DNR assistant fisheries supervisor in Bemidji. “We also have a lot of short fish coming up and they grow quickly, so Andrusia is in good shape.”
Along with Andrusia’s walleyes, anglers can expect to find plenty of quality perch in the lake. Perch numbers were at a record high in the 2019 survey, with fish up to 12 inches sampled.
While perch likely are a bigger benefit as a forage option for the lake’s predators, enough of them reach maturity to provide more than a bonus catch for anglers. The right pod of fish can yield excellent perch-fishing opportunities.
If you can find them, crappie fishing also can be good at times. The pencil reeds hold bigger concentrations of fish in the spring, while Andrusia’s weedbeds are worth a look during other times of the year.
Bluegills are less numerous than crappies, but fish over 8 inches are caught. The population in 2019 consisted of quite a few small fish, but they grow fast, and with a five-fish limit now in place, Andrusia has the potential to kick out even better numbers of bigger bluegills during the next couple of years.
“Andrusia has nice crappies in it, fish over 11 inches, and good crappie habitat,” Thompson said. “It also has a lot of good sunfish habitat and we saw fish up to 91⁄2 inches in 2019.”
Northern pike numbers have been steadily increasing in recent years. Nets averaged just over nine per lift in 2019, which was the highest ever recorded from the lake.
But the size structure of Andrusia’s pike seems to be hanging in there, likely due to its abundance of perch and tullibees that are utilized as forage. Pike over 35 inches were sampled in the last survey.
Muskies are native to the system, and fish over 48 inches are common throughout it, including in Andrusia.
“We don’t like to see pike numbers going up, but in this case, the average size is tracking really well,” Thompson said. “Muskie recruitment rates are strong and they’re not as pressured on Andrusia as we see on Cass.”
Surface area……………1,589 acres
Maximum depth………….60 feet
Shore length……………….10 miles
Water clarity……………………6 feet
AIS present……….Zebra mussel
Fish species present:
Walleye, yellow perch, black crappie, northern pike, bluegill, muskie, largemouth bass, pumpkinseed, tullibee (cisco), green sunfish, hybrid sunfish, rock bass, burbot (eelpout), bullhead, white sucker, redhorse, bowfin (dogfish).
DNR area fisheries office (218) 308-2339, the DNR website http://www.dnr.state.mn.us/lakefind or Dick Beardsley Guide Service (218) 556-7172.