NANFA-- Snorkeling Leech Lake Area

Mark Otnes (
Fri, 3 Aug 2001 20:28:23 -0500

I finally made it to the Leech Lake area today to try some big water
snorkeling. I started at the Boy River just to the east and it was
wonderful. Visibility was about 15 feet and the water was 6 to 12 feet
deep. The edge of the river was lined with wild rice and there was all
kinds of other vegetation rising up from the deep waters. Occasionally
there would be a large bolder lying in the deep (glacial erratics I'm
guessing). There were Yellow Perch of all sizes all over the place.
Golden, Spotfin, Blackchin and BlackNose Shiners were very common, logperch
were uncommon, and there was the occasional sunfish or rockbass, and one
Northern Pike about 4 inches long. There may have been Pugnose Shiners too,
but I don't know how to identify them. Konrad Schmidt is studying them this
summer in this part of the state, so I know they are present.

Next I headed north to the Leech River just below Federal Dam which flows
out of Leech Lake. Big fish were abundant here, especially Northern Pike
ranging from 6 inches to 2 feet long. Visibility was at least 10 feet and I
could see walleyes under a couple of bridges near the bottom. There were
also large walleyes in the main channel of the river in rather shallow
water. Largemouth Bass, Rock Bass, and Yellow Perch were abundant and the
same cyprinids at the Boy River were present here. The highlight was an
otter frolicking in the water and chowing down on a fish. I wanted to get
close enough to see it swim under water, but was only able to get within
about 15 yards of it.

Finally I hit 3 different spots on the south and west sides of Leech Lake.
The lake is very large so it was a bit intimidating. On the south central
part it was mostly sandy flats with an occasional Johnny Darter. The wind
was blowing from the south, so I didn't want to get blown out to sea, so I
stayed shallow.

The west side of the lake was excellent with about 10 to 12 feet of
visibility. There was a lot of weed growth hosting the usual abundance of
sunfish, bass, and perch. I went through a channel into Kabetegoma Bay and
in one spot under a bridge there were at least 8 good sizes walleyes.

Altogether it was a good trip and well worth the two hour drive.

Mark Otnes

Fargo ND

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