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

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Man Lake, Cass County

Oh, Man: This Cass County lake has almost everything

By Glen Schmitt
Staff Writer

What if you had the opportunity to fish an excellent multi-species lake that’s loaded with big fish and that doesn’t receive a whole lot of angling pressure? It really sounds too good to be true.

But such a lake exists, and it’s located just west of Longville. It’s called Man Lake. 

While Man is only 491 acres in size, this Cass County fishery includes everything from panfish to muskies and you might see more loons than people when fishing it.

The thing is, getting to Man is difficult. There isn’t a public access on Man, but there is one on connected Baby Lake. However, the channel connecting the two lakes is big enough only for small, low-profile boats.

In addition, that channel is pretty dicey during the winter, so ice-fishing activity is even more limited. Basically, if you don’t have a small boat or access via private property, Man is not an option.

“You can’t get in there with a big boat, so fishing pressure has always been very minimal,” said Doug Schultz, DNR Fisheries supervisor in Walker. “But that’s probably a good thing and one of the reasons the fishing is so good.”

With a small enough vessel, you’ll have the opportunity to cash in some excellent bass fishing. Man has solid numbers of both smallmouth and largemouth bass, and they grow big.

During DNR electrofishing work in 2019, an equal number of both bass species were sampled, about 20 each per hour. Smallies up to 20 inches and largemouths up to 18 inches were in the mix, which is not unusual for Man.

“It’s a really good bass lake that’s really under-fished,” said Wil Neururer, of The One Stop in Longville. “The smallmouths in there are freakishly big.”

Walleye numbers are currently strong as well. DNR gill nets averaged almost eight fish per lift in 2019, which was the second-highest total ever recorded on Man.

Walleye fingerlings are stocked in even-numbered years, and there is some limited natural reproduction that also occurs. Walleyes averaged 21 inches in length during the last survey, walleyes up to 30 inches were sampled, and the 2014 and 2016 year-classes were especially strong.

“Those 2014s are probably 20 inches at this point, and the 2016s should be between 17 and 19 inches,” Schultz said. “It’s in a pretty good place for walleyes right now.”

The panfish in Man are respectable, with an edge to its crappies as far as size goes. Crappies tend to be targeted a bit more than do bluegills as a result. 

The majority of bluegills are around 7 inches in length, but fish up to 9 inches were sampled in 2019. Crappies over 12 inches are common and expected from Man.

“There’s potential out there for bigger bluegills, but most of what we saw in 2019 were under 8 inches,” Schultz said. “The crappies are good-sized. Fish in the teens are pretty common.”

While Man’s muskie population is considered low density, it is a fine muskie fishery with fish over 50 inches present. Man simply has the right ingredients to grow large muskies: deep, cool water and an abundance of tullibees for forage.

According to Schultz, those characteristics force muskies to migrate out of Baby Lake into Man during the summer months, which means some quality fishing opportunities exist.

The lake’s northern pike also have shoulders, again aided by deep water and plenty of tullibees to eat. The pike sampled in 2019 averaged 24 inches in length, but fish over 30 inches are quite common.

“Man has really big muskies and smallmouths, but honestly, everything runs big in there,” Neururer said. “You really can’t ask for much more than that out of a lake. It’s the land of giants.”

Man Lake

Nearest town…………..Longville

Surface area………………491 acres

Maximum depth………….93 feet

Shore length……………..4.5 miles

Water clarity…………………..2 feet

AIS present…………..None listed

Fish species present:

Smallmouth bass, largemouth bass, walleye, black crappie, bluegill, muskie, northern pike, pumpkinseed, hybrid sunfish, tullibee (cisco), yellow perch, bullhead, rock bass, white sucker. 

For information:

DNR area fisheries office (218) 552-2338, the DNR website or The One Stop (218) 363-2252.

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