OAK ISLAND FISH SPECIES
Sportsman’s Oak Island Lodge
The walleye is the king of fresh water game fish and Lake of the Woods, the walleye is renowned for it’s flakey white fillets. The walleye is the most sought-after fish in Minnesota. Each year, anglers in Minnesota keep roughly 3.5 million walleyes totaling 4 million pounds. The average walleye caught and kept is about 14 inches long and weighs slightly more than 1 pound, however it is not uncommon to snag a trophy between 8lbs and 13lbs on the Lake of the Woods. The walleye is named for its pearlescent eye, which is caused by a reflective layer of pigment, called the tapetum lucidum, that helps it see and feed at night or in murky water.
Most northerns caught by fishing run 2 to 3 pounds, though trophies over 20 pounds are caught each year. A close cousin to the muskellunge, the northern pike lives in nearly all of Minnesota’s lakes and streams.The quickest way to tell a northern pike from a muskie is to note that the northern has light markings on a dark body background, while muskies generally have dark markings on a light background. A foolproof method is to count the pores on the underside of the jaw: the northern has five or fewer; the muskie has six or more. Northerns also have rounded tail fins, compared to the pointy tail fins of a muskie. This fish is best enjoyed baked, pickled or smoked.
The muskellunge is one of the largest and most elusive fish that swims in Minnesota. A muskie will eat fish and sometimes ducklings and even small muskrats. It waits in weed beds and then lunges forward, clamping its large, tooth-lined jaws onto the prey. The muskie then gulps down the stunned or dead victim head first. Muskies are light colored and usually have dark bars running up and down their long bodies. That’s the opposite of northern pike, which have light markings on a dark body. Muskies are silver, light green, or light brown. The foolproof way to tell a muskie from a northern is to count the pores on the underside of the jaw: A muskie has six or more. A northern has five or fewer.
Black Slab Crappie
Crappies bite readily and produce sweet-tasting fillets. There are actually two types of crappies: the black and the white. They are tough to tell apart, but Lake of the Woods is home to mainly the Black Crappie. Both travel in schools and feed on small fish and aquatic insects. The black crappie prefers deeper, cooler, clearer water than the white crappie does. This fish can get up to 5 lbs and 25 inches in length. Most caught are between 1-3 lb and 12-18 inches in length.
With its slimy skin and tendency to wrap itself around your arm, the burbot is considered by many anglers to be the “fish” of fish. But in fact this beautiful cousin to the saltwater cod, commonly known as eelpout, is a remarkable predator that is excellent to eat. Boiled to perfection and dipped in drawn butter, it is said to be a “Poor Man’s Lobster’! The burbot looks like a cross between an eel and a catfish. It has a long body with smooth skin and a single whisker under its chin.Up to 30 inches, but average length is about 16 inches. Average about 2 pounds but can reach up to 18 pounds. It is has a brownish back and sides with black and dark brown splotches.
The yellow perch is one of the most commonly caught fish in Minnesota, however on Lake of the Woods really only seen the warmer winter months of February & March or early Spring. This smaller cousin of the walleye is good to eat and eagerly bites worms, but it often is so small that anglers throw them back into the water. Like sunfish and bluegills, perch are considered “panfish,” or fish commonly caught to be cooked in a frying pan and eaten. The perch is a a small fish that is usually yellow on the sides with wide dark bands coming down the sides from its back. It’s average length is about 6 inches but some reach a foot or more and average about 1/3 pound.
The Smallmouth Bass sometimes called a “bronzeback” for its brassy brown hue, the smallmouth is one of the strongest fish for its weight. Many anglers who hook a 2-pounder will swear it’s twice that big until the fish is in the boat. It is on average found to be 10 – 12 inches long and 3lbs in weight.