Beltrami’s Pimushe: a prolific producer of panfish
By Glen Schmitt
There are select locations in the state to which hardcore panfish anglers gravitate in their quest to consistently catch quality bluegills and crappies. The Blackduck area is on that list, and one of the best lakes in that area is Pimushe, which has been kicking out good numbers of picture-worthy panfish for decades.
Pimushe is a 1,230-acre fishery that just seems to have all the right ingredients to grow large panfish. Bluegills over 9 inches and crappies in the 12-inch class are common, and it doesn’t matter what time of year it is, either.
Those fish have received heavy fishing pressure over the years, but a reduced bag limit – five bluegills – has been in place since 2010, and that seems to be maintaining their quality size structure. Pimushe was one of the first lakes in the state to implement such a regulation.
“It’s definitely a destination lake for bluegills and crappies. They’re just a nice average size,” said Carl Adams, of Timberline Sports in Blackduck. “We have some good panfish lakes up here, but Pimushe is known as one of the very best.”
The DNR conducted a targeted bluegill survey on Pimushe in the spring of 2021, which involved setting 22 trap nets on consecutive days. Those nets captured 463 bluegills from 3 to 10 inches in length, with a mean length of 8 inches.
In addition, 52 crappies were captured in spring nets, which is a solid number for this type of survey. A standard survey last July also produced higher numbers of crappies than typically show up in summer test nets.
“In just two days of netting, we captured 463 bluegills with an average length a bit over 8 inches. That’s a quality bluegill population,” said Andrew Wiering, DNR Fisheries specialist in Bemidji. “And we saw a lot of nice crappies in those summer nets – 12- to 13-inch fish. More than 40% were over 10 inches.”
According to Adams, the panfish in Pimushe are still highly pressured. But he says the reduced bluegill bag limit has, without question, played a part in maintaining the quality and overall numbers of the larger bluegills in the lake.
“The fish don’t get bigger, but there are more of them. Bluegill numbers are as good as they’ve ever been,” he said. “I mean, 11-inch fish are rare, but there are a lot of 10-inch bluegills in that lake.”
Walleyes garner much less angler interest on Pimushe. There are plenty of lakes in this area, and many of them are simply better walleye-fishing options, or at the very least, they’re more popular walleye lakes.
But the walleye population might be as good right now as it has been in a long time in Pimushe. Gill nets averaged almost four walleyes per set in this summer’s survey, which was the highest number seen since the 1990s.
There currently are two strong walleye year-classes worth noting. The 2018 class is most prevalent, and those fish are currently about 15 inches long. The 2019 year-class was also strong, producing high numbers of walleyes that are about 12 inches long right now.
Pimushe is not stocked with walleyes, but it has a decent population maintained only through natural reproduction and fish movement from connected waters – the Turtle River and nearby Cass Lake.
“It’s a lake that’s always been known for eating-size fish, and it looks like that will continue,” Wiering said. “But Pimushe kind of gets put on the back burner to the area’s other walleye lakes.”
Largemouth bass are abundant and do run good size, but they receive little attention. The northern pike in Pimushe are numerous, but the vast majority are small.
“Not a lot of guys target bass out there,” Adams added. “Pimushe is a good bass lake, but very underutilized.”
Surface area……………1,230 acres
Maximum depth………….40 feet
Shore length……………….17 miles
Water clarity……………………9 feet
AIS present………Zebra mussel, starry stonewort
Fish species present:
Bluegill, black crappie, walleye, largemouth bass, northern pike, pumpkinseed, hybrid sunfish, yellow perch, tullibee (cisco), bullhead, rock bass, white sucker, bowfin (dogfish).
DNR area fisheries office (218) 308-2339, the DNR website http://www.dnr.state.mn.us/lakefind or Timberline Sports and Convenience (218) 835-4636.