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Lake Zumbro: What are you seeing?

  • Tom Sawvell
    Inactive
    Posts: 9559
    #1910290

    The big dredge has all but been wrapped up now and last summer’s weather played games for the whole open water season. High water persisted well into the ice up and the water level is now 4 feet lower than when ice was forming, thanks to a timely fix to the dam’s generators. There’s been hardly a peep about the winter fishing and I’m curious what people are finding this winter.

    For the last two springs I’ve seen some changes. First there were high water events while the spawn was happening. Last year was bad for silt at spawning time. Personally I haven’t seen any of the larger crappies that were so common only five or so years ago. Sunfish seem to be there yet with some real chunks occasionally. Over the last two years I’ve personally caught only a couple true 12″ fish, a few 11’s but mostly the 9 1/2″ to 10″ stuff.

    I had the occasion today to chat with Kevin Staufer of the Lake City Fisheries Dept and we took a look at how test nettings have been showing more small fish as the rule of late, but a number of factors can be at play in this observation and I’m not sure what a couple years previous showed. I shared with him my observations and we pretty much agreed on them.

    Right now is not a good time to get all worried about this because we have no idea just how well the fish community will deal with the new environment created with the dredging, especially for the spring spawning period. And of course our weather seems to have thrown us a mess of curve balls and will probably get some more throws in next spring. Right now is a great time to start paying attention though: are you seeing the big crappies at all and are they there in numbers or just one here and there? I know that prior to the dredging’s onset the typical spawning habitat of the upper lake was showing a real decline in fish numbers and size.

    I’ve fished that lake for almost 55 years and have seen it falter several times. Every time though it came back and the large crappies led the pack. But this time I’m not so certain a rebound of big fish is going to happen. It just feels like something has come unhitched in the lake’s fish balance. I think the next couple years are going to be important ones for the lake and we all need to be paying attention to what might be on the horizon. With Fishermans now a county property and a new ramp and park set to be put in place on that property most certainly the lake will see a super-sized increase in all types of water usage so a lot of challenges are coming. I’m wondering if what I am not seeing anymore is going to be the norm or if these changes are going to make the whole fishing venture out there worse?

    I’d like to hear what people are catching and if they’re seeing a size deficit from past years. Anybody that’s been out there?

    haleysgold
    Participant
    SE MN
    Posts: 934
    #1910339

    I talked to a buddy that went out last Friday. They never caught a fish. Not sure where they were other than on the lake.
    I assume you heard that the dredging holding pond blew the dike last Fall?
    All the water, silt and slop went down the valley towards Ryans bay. It’s deep and all of it is sitting there waiting to finish the trip back to the lake! The Spring rains and snow melt will wash it all right back in. Will be interesting to see if Ryans bay has big problems when it does. Can’t imagine it being good especially if it flows back in with a lot water pressure.

    Tom Sawvell
    Inactive
    Posts: 9559
    #1910356

    The “lagoon” you’re referring to on CO12, I think everyone’s heard about it and last fall’s fun. I won’t even comment on it Brian.

    Not a single fish? That isn’t promising at all. Normally I’d have taken a couple drives around the lake by now to see what it looks like with ice but haven’t done so yet. Do you know if your friend drove out?

    haleysgold
    Participant
    SE MN
    Posts: 934
    #1910365

    I’m pretty sure he didn’t drive out there.
    Not even sure where he fished but he was bummed they didn’t even get a bite. Nothing.
    He didn’t say if others were out either. I’ll get some more details as I’d like to try it myself. Except for the walk which is usually long.
    Another guy on Pepin said don’t bother walking out there. Crust of ice and slush below it would make walking through it, tough. Wheelers with studs or chains unless you stick close to shore.

    eyeguy507
    Participant
    SE MN
    Posts: 3218
    #1910404

    Fished it a dozen times 2 years ago all sodt water. I try for any species, just depends on my mood. Most times I like to vertical jigging raps when I mark fish, other times cast plastics or cranks. I think I have caught 3 crappies, but one was a 14″ white that my kid picked up. Gills no problem and even an occasional walleye. I just figured I sucked at finding them?

    Tom Sawvell
    Inactive
    Posts: 9559
    #1910420

    Thanks eyeguy. The lake can be a challenge for some who don’t fish it often. A 14″ white would be an exceptional white out there. The lake is primarily an black crappie fishery but whites play hide and seek there too.

    Zach Peterson
    Participant
    Austin, Mn
    Posts: 275
    #1910636

    Not sure what they’ve been catching but there sure has been plenty of traffic near the markers for the dam. With the bubblers on and flow it’s hard to believe there is enough ice to fish where they are.

    I did see a few pictures of decent crappies that were caught but never got specifics.

    Tom Sawvell
    Inactive
    Posts: 9559
    #1910677

    The flow right now is quite low. Deep water where you’ve mentioned. Straight across from the Pondy restaurant along the shore there’s deep drops that hold fish too.

    I need to take a spin around the lake to see what the traffic is like.

    Thanks for the input Zach.

    shockers
    Participant
    Rochester
    Posts: 1008
    #1910715

    If you get a report, please share, Tom. A friend of mine just moved out to Zumbro and wants to try ice fishing (he’s never done so) so wanted me to “guide” him on Zumbro. But I rarely fish there anymore, and had heard ice was pretty sketchy so haven’t gone out there yet.

    Tom Sawvell
    Inactive
    Posts: 9559
    #1910730

    I’m going to take Ma for a ride today ….around the lake. I’m taking the spotting scope so I can check things out a bit and will get back to this yet today.

    Where on the lake did he move to? He might be sitting on fishing off his dock.

    Tom Sawvell
    Inactive
    Posts: 9559
    #1910869

    Here you go Luke. Fishermans landing/lot has not been plowed and entry o the ice can be done with 4wd but could still be a bad idea. People are driving on at the north access and from the Pondy restaurant access.

    The bay in from of Fishermans has several pockets of open water. As in wide open. Not sure if the dredging has created current spikes or what. I saw only two spots where people had drilled but I’m sure there are more that snow hid. The open water would concern me at this location.

    Nobody was on Rattlesnake or the high banks that I could see from a couple vantage points, but the barn had maybe a dozen perms sitting on it. There are a couple full-sized trucks parked out there and a could snowmobiles/atvs.

    We didn’t drive down into Ryans Bay due to time constraints so I cannot say yea or nay what is happening inside the bay or at the high banks where I couldn’t see from the south. There was nobody on the deep wall and shelf across from the Pondy restaurant. There was nobody at the dam.

    Whether anyone is catching I have no idea. While vehicles were at the barn, nobody was out and about otherwise I may have wandered down to ask how the bite was.

    This is the quietest I have ever seen the lake at this time of year. I think it was a perfect storm of continual high water, then the lake being lowers after ice formed that has put people off. Maybe poor fishing. Maybe its just a typical Weds and nobody is out. No idea….but it sure was quiet.

    crawdaddy
    Participant
    St. Paul MN
    Posts: 824
    #1910889

    What is the bass fishing like out there in the open water periods?

    Tom Sawvell
    Inactive
    Posts: 9559
    #1910935

    They run a small weekly bass tourney out there and the guys generally do pretty well. I see some ugly nice smallies in the early spring/late winter when I’m fishing an open water stretch between two ice sheets. In recent years that bite has been dwindling due to sedimentation issues but hopefully the dredging got back into where these nice fish would show up in the cold water and make for favorable conditions again.

    On the over-all, the lower lake has quite deep water adjacent to a lot of docks. There can be a lot of sunken/submerged wood too. Not much for weed cover. Crappies and sunfish love to suspend in the deep water and use the docks for shade at times in the heat of summer and the large mouths will follow those fish. Pike too. The Zumbro has some sumo pike to be had. Muskies have been planted but not much is heard of any real success. The river below the dam seems to be the best for muskie. Bass fishing is really not all that bad. Some days they all but jump in the boat, others a guy has to work for them.

    Early weekday mornings on Lake Zumbro can be absolutely treasurable. By about 10 or 11 though the troops with the water scooters and dopes on sticks show up and the party time begins. Honestly, I’d love seeing a permanent no-wake on the lake for ALL watercraft.

    shockers
    Participant
    Rochester
    Posts: 1008
    #1911018

    Thanks, Tom!
    I think my buddy moved near Fisherman’s inn. But yeah. Sounds like sketchy ice to me.

    Tom Sawvell
    Inactive
    Posts: 9559
    #1911023

    After seeing open water pockets there today I’d avoid the area. There’s no way of knowing what the dredging in that basin did to the underlayment or how it has affected current/water flow. I’ve never seen open water in the winter in at least three of the areas having open water now and its very near to where significant dredging took place.

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