West Crooked is managed primarily as a walleye, northern pike, and panfish fishery.
Walleye were sampled at a rate of 3.5/gillnet, similar to past surveys and within the range typical for lake class 25. Walleye were a quality size, with an average length and weight of 16.6 inches and 2.0 pounds. Walleye up to 27.0 inches were measured. West Crooked receives walleye fingerling stockings every other year in even calendar years. Seventeen of the 23 walleye that were aged (74%) corresponded to years of walleye stocking. Walleye growth rates began to slow after age three when compared to other class 25 lakes.
Northern pike were sampled in high numbers (10.2/gillnet), above the typical range for class 25, but similar to past surveys on West Crooked. Sizes of northern pike were fair, with an average length and weight of 20.1 inches and 2.1 pounds. Northern pike up to 35.5 inches were sampled. Northern pike growth rates were slow when compared to class 25 lakes.
Both the black crappie catch rate of 2.4/trapnet and the bluegill catch rate of 21.6/trapnet are within the typical range for lake class 25. Past surveys have had higher bluegill catches, while black crappie catches have been stable. Sampled bluegill were an average length of 6.5 inches, with fish measured up to 8.0 inches. Black crappie averaged 8.6 inches in length with fish measured up to 10.9 inches. Both bluegill and black crappie exhibited growth rates typical for lake class 25.
Yellow perch were sampled in low numbers (2.5/gillnet). The previous survey in 1992 had a similar yellow perch gillnet catch (1.0/net), while historical catch rates have been much higher ranging from 25.7/net (1962) to 75.3/net (1982). The yellow perch population in West Crooked not only provides a forage base for the walleye and northern pike populations, but are an acceptable size for angling. Yellow perch up to 12.6 inches were sampled.
Other species sampled during the 1997 survey were pumpkinseed and yellow bullhead. Average size of pumpkinseed was small (5.1 inches), with fish measured up to 6.9 inches.
Anglers can help maintain or improve the quality of fishing by practicing selective harvest. Selective harvest allows for the harvest of smaller fish for table fare, but encourages release of medium to larger fish. Releasing these fish will help maintain the fish population in West Crooked and provides anglers with opportunities to catch more and larger fish in the future.
White's General Store (for fishing tackle)
218-732-8380, RR 4 Box 72, Park Rapids, MN 56470-9218
Bear Creek Bait & Taxidermy
218-732-7337, Hc 6 Box 432, Park Rapids, MN
Northern Bait Company
218-732-5113, 614 Main St S, Park Rapids, MN