In spring and early summer of 2019, the National Park Service (NPS) and Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (MN DNR) staff will perform a study to estimate the population size of the native and genetically-distinct muskellunge (Esox masquinongy) that live in Shoepack Lake.
To enable this study, backcountry campsites and boats on Shoepack and Little Shoepack lakes will be closed to public use from April 20 to May 24, 2019, and also from July 1 to July 14, 2019. Canoes and campsites on both lakes are expected to remain open for all other summer dates in 2019. The fishing season for muskellunge begins June 1, 2019.
In 2001, a beaver dam at the outlet of Shoepack Lake failed, leading to a 47% reduction in lake area. Models that incorporated this reduction in lake area predicted a decrease in population to a potentially unstable level. The lake level and area have recovered since then, and the effects of this reduction on the muskellunge population are still unknown. The 2019 study will help the NPS and MN DNR assess whether current management in Shoepack Lake is adequate to maintain this unique strain of native fish.