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Lake Wakanda near Willmar open to liberalized fishing starting Dec. 18

For a second ice season in a row, Lake Wakanda is open for liberalized fishing as a drawdown takes place.

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The water level on Lake Wakanda has dropped by just about one foot since the drawdown began Nov. 9. Newly-installed control structures make the drawdown possible in an effort to induce a winterkill to knock down the populations of carp and other undesired fish. The control structures include fish barriers to prevent carp from returning. Photo courtesy of Josh Kavanagh, shallow lakes specialist Minnesota DNR

WILLMAR — The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources is liberalizing fishing regulations on Lake Wakanda south of Willmar in Kandiyohi County from Dec. 18 through Feb. 27, 2022. The liberalized fishing rules are in response to a lake rehabilitation project that will temporarily draw down water levels.

According to a DNR news release, Minnesota residents with a fishing license may take for their personal use all species of fish in any quantity and in any manner; except they are not allowed to use seines, hoopnets, fyke nets or explosives. Carp, buffalo, bullhead and suckers that are taken from Lake Wakanda may be sold.

Anglers must obey all private property trespassing laws. It is against the law to discard fish on shore or on lake ice.

The Lake Wakanda rehabilitation project included the construction of four fish barriers that are designed to limit the migration of rough fish into the lake. Drawing down water levels is intended to reduce the lake’s existing carp population and improve water quality. The two-year drawdown has lowered lake levels by two and a half feet, consistent with the lake’s management plan, according to the DNR.

Drawdowns mimic drought conditions, which act as a reset to a lake ecosystem by consolidating sediments, establishing vegetation and reducing rough fish populations. The practice also creates conditions conducive for winterkill, which can occur with lowered oxygen levels. Removal of rough fish improves fish and wildlife habitat and helps sustain a more diverse fishery.

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Lake Wakanda will remain in drawdown through the winter of 2021-2022 before DNR managers allow it to naturally refill in 2022. Fisheries crews will then stock a diversity of game species in order to control rough fish populations and maintain desirable fish habitat.
For the latest information, contact the Spicer DNR fisheries office at 320-409-2044 or spicer.fisheries@state.mn.us . For a statewide listing, go to the DNR website at mndnr.gov .

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Walter Scott is an outdoors enthusiast and freelance writer from Drakesville, Iowa.
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