Blackduck fishing rivals that of its popular neighbors
By Glen Schmitt
Beltrami County’s Blackduck Lake has always been a consistent walleye producer. It’s also one of the more popular fisheries in the area, providing walleye-fishing action throughout the year.
The panfish that swim in Blackduck’s 2,711 acres of water are worth fishing for as well. They’re highlighted by trophy-caliber bluegills and crappies, along with some pods of jumbo-sized perch.
But Blackduck’s walleyes remain the primary draw. It’s a fish population that’s maintained through intense fry stocking and some natural reproduction. The walleyes tend to grow fast, which simply means there’s always a batch of respectable ’eyes to be caught.
“I think Blackduck is near the top for walleyes in this area, especially on a year-round basis,” said Carl Adams, of Timberline Sports and Tackle in Blackduck. “We have Red Lake and Winnie not too far away, but locally, Blackduck is probably the best.”
Based on the most recent DNR survey, conducted in 2021, Adam’s evaluation appears to be spot-on. Gill nets averaged almost 13 walleyes per set, which was the fifth consecutive assessment with walleye numbers well above the statewide average for this type of lake.
The mean length of the walleyes sampled was an impressive 16 inches, which seems to be the norm for this lake. There also were good numbers of short fish mixed in, and walleyes up to 28 inches were included.
According to Adams, Blackduck has a reputation for producing eating-size walleyes, and he’s noticed better numbers of larger fish, those over 24 inches, in recent years. He also says there’s currently a batch of small walleyes coming up that should be provide excellent fishing not too far down the road.
“The lake normally has a whole bunch of 16- to 18-inch walleyes in it and right now, there’s a group of walleyes about 9 inches (in length) along with them,” Adams said. “Blackduck is known for nice, eating-size walleyes – we never used to see big fish. But now we’re catching a fair number of 24- to 28-inch fish, too.”
Blackduck also has a lengthy history of kicking out quality panfish. Crappies tend to be more numerous than bluegills, but both are quite impressive in the size category.
The relatively low abundance and good size of its bluegills led the DNR to implement a reduced bag limit of five bluegills in 2005, which remains in place and seems to be working. Adams says 10- and 11-inch bluegills are pretty common, and that even bigger fish exist.
Crappies in the 13-inch class also are common, with fish around 15 inches not out of the question.
“My first thought when the regulation started was, no. But the bluegill fishing has gotten obviously better since it’s been on,” Adams said. “Right now, we probably have the most bluegills we’ve ever had in the lake, and if someone brings a 2-pound crappie in here, I know it came from Blackduck.”
Blackduck has long been known as one of the better perch fisheries in the area, but there’s been a noticeable decline in recent years in overall size and numbers.
The cupboard isn’t empty as far as jumbo perch; there just seems to be fewer of them. Only 10% of the perch sampled in 2021 were longer than 9 inches, which was down from 21% of the catch in the 2018 survey.
“I’m not sure what’s going on with the perch, but it’s not as good as it used to be,” Adams said. “They still get big, but now you might only catch eight to 10 good ones on a good day.”
Northern pike numbers are high in Blackduck, and most are around 20 inches in length. Some pike over 30 inches exist, but they are the exception.
Surface area……………2,711 acres
Maximum depth………….28 feet
Shore length……………….13 miles
Water clarity……………………6 feet
AIS present………….Faucet snail
Fish species present:
Walleye, black crappie, bluegill, yellow perch, northern pike, pumpkinseed, largemouth bass, hybrid sunfish, bullhead, rock bass, freshwater drum, white sucker.
DNR area fisheries office (218) 308-2339, the DNR website http://www.dnr.state.mn.us/lakefind or Timberline Sports and Tackle (218) 835-4636.