Aug. 7, 2006

A look at Cokato area lakes

By Roz Kohls
Staff Writer

Cokato Lake and Brooks Lake are the main lakes in the Cokato area.

Cokato Lake is between Wright County roads 3 and 4, northeast of Cokato. It is a 539-acre lake with a maximum depth of 52 feet and water clarity up to 10 feet. The dominant bottom is silt, sand and rubble, and the maximum depth of plant growth is four feet.

In 2004 the Department of Natural Resources stocked Cokato Lake with 276 pounds of walleye fingerlings and about 4,700 fish. By 2007, these fish will provide good angling, according to Paul Diedrich, DNR fisheries manager.

According to a gill net catch study conducted in 1998, the mean weight per walleye increased to 3.46 pounds from 2.44 pounds. Also, the growth of walleye was above average for Minnesota lakes, with the 6-year old fish reaching more than 24 inches in length, according to the Montrose area fisheries.

Systematic stock of walleye began in 1952, every second or third year, Diedrich said.

The trap net catch for black crappie significantly increased also. Growth of the younger bluegills also was above the statewide average, up to more than six inches in length for 3-year olds.

Electro fishing in 1998 showed a mean catch rate of 86 small mouth bass, an abundant quantity, according to Diedrich.

Cokato Lake has a state-owned concrete public access, constructed in 1986, on the east shore. In 2005, the ice-in date was Dec. 2. The ice-out date was April 6 this year.

At the annual Rainbow Sportsmen’s Club of Cokato ice fishing contest in 2005, the first place winner, Josh Harmala, won $300.

In the summer, Cokato Lake Camping and RV Resort hosts 2,000 guests on a big weekend, such as Fourth of July. It is one of the largest campgrounds in the state, if not the largest. It has 225 sites, a boat launch, marina, rental boats, fish cleaning house, picnic tables, bait shop and firewood.

Usually the campground, on the east shore at 2945 County Road 4 SW, is open from April 15 to Labor Day. It is owned by Mark Weber and Joe Blanck of the Twin Cities, and operated by Aimee and Bruce Michaelson.

Property owners around Cokato Lake are organized into a lake association. Joel Hillman of Cokato is president. His residence is on the east shore.

The association is monitoring the run off in Sucker Creek, which flows from Cokato in the south, along County Road 4 to the north and empties into Cokato Lake, to keep the lake clean and clear. The association also is conducting a study to keep the lake as free of pollutants as possible.

Land use in the Cokato Lake watershed is estimated to be 77 percent cultivated, 5 percent forested, 5 percent residential and 9 percent pasture.

Many of the lots around Cokato Lake are undeveloped, so the area has great potential for growth, Hillmann said.

Brooks Lake is a 97-acre lake next to the north side of Cokato. It has a maximum depth of 21 feet and water clarity to 4.6 feet.

Brooks Lake does not have a formally organized lake association, but it is a good fishing lake. Bluegills were abundant in a 1989 gill net catch study, according to the Montrose fisheries. Also, Northern Pike had increased significantly over the 1983 catch. They ranged from 15 to 33 inches with a median length of 21 inches. Growth was good for both sexes.

In addition to Northern Pike and bluegills, the lake has many crappies, bullheads, and sunfish.

Brooks Lake has a city-owned gravel public access.

Also on the shore is Veterans Memorial Park. It is sponsored by the Cokato American Legion Post 209 and its auxiliary, and honors all veterans. The park has softball fields, playground equipment above pea rock for safety, and picnic shelters. The shelters can be reserved by calling (320) 286-5505.

Brooks Lake also features a fishing pier. The handicapped-accessible pier was constructed about 13 years ago in a cooperative project between the city of Cokato and the MnDNR. Sport restoration is funded by federal taxes on fish equipment, license fees and other state funds from the DNR.

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