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Virgin Lake

General Information

County: Palo Alto
Location: 2 miles south of Ruthven
Acres: 222.00
Maximum Depth: 5.5 ft. (1973)
Motoring Restrictions: none


Amenities at Virgin Lake include:
  • Boat Access
  • Accessible Pier
  • Picnic Area
  • Beach
  • Accessible Facilities
  • Restrooms
  • Camping
  • Gravel Boat Ramp

Fishing Report

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Fishing Forecast

Spring 2010 Electrofishing Assessment - A comprehensive survey was conducted on Virgin Lake during the 2010 sampling season. This survey comprised of two components, spring D.C. electrofishing and fall fyke netting. This survey was conducted on Virgin Lake to document fish populations prior to lake renovation scheduled in the next few years. Spring D.C. electrofishing survey was conducted on May 17th, 2010 to assess the sub-adult and adult fish populations of Virgin Lake. Bullheads, consisting of black and yellow bullheads comprised the majority of the fish sampled at 98 percent of the total overall catch. These fish were sampled when a large school of bullheads swam by the D.C. electrofishing boat. Limited numbers of rough fish, comprised of carp (n = 2) and buffalo (n = 1) and game fish, comprised of yellow perch (n = 1) were sampled during the 45 minute sample. Reports of dead fish located by the boat ramp resulted in concerns by the Spirit Lake Fish Management Office of possible winterkill during the 2009 – 2010 winter season. The low numbers of fish sampled (n = 4, excluding bullheads) suggest that a partial to moderate winter kill did occur on Virgin Lake during the 2009 – 2010 winter season. Water clarity measured during the spring D.C. electrofishing survey was 55 plus inches, also suggests a significant winterkill occurred during the 2009 – 2010 winter season, which severally impacted the rough fish populations of Virgin Lake. Fall 2010 Fyke Net Assessment – Fyke netting was conducted on Virgin Lake during the month of October to assess the sub-adult and adult fish poplations. Yellow perch were detected during the 2010 fall fyke net assessment. A yellow perch catch rate of 8 fish per net was two times lower then Spirit Lake median value (16 fish per net; 5 – 28 lower and upper percentiles) from yellow perch lakes within the Spirit Lake District, suggesting a less then typical yellow perch population in Virgin Lake. A PSD value of 75 indicate a yellow perch population comprised of quality (8.0 – 9.9 inches) and preferred (> 10.0 inches) size fish at 54 and 21 percent; respectively, with stock (5.0 – 7.9 inches) size fish comprising the remaining 25 percent of the total yellow perch catch. This low catch of stock (5.0 – 7.9 inches) size fish suggests limited recruitment of the yellow perch population of Virgin Lake. Age and growth analysis from anal spines indicate three year classes exists in Virgin Lake in varying densities. Age II fish (2008 year class) dominated the yellow perch catch at 78 percent, with age IV fish (2007 year class) comprising 18 percent of the catch. Age II fish (2009 year class) comprised only 4 percent of the total yellow perch catch, implying limited yellow perch recruitment. Relative weight (WR), an index of body condition, was 96 which is within the target range of 95 – 105, reflecting a yellow perch population in good body condition. Rough fish, comprised of buffalo (n = 4), carp (n = 69) and white sucker (n = 2) were also detected in the sample. Small carp dominated the overall rough fish catch, with 97 percent of the carp catch comprised of 8.0 – 12.0 inch fish, indicating excellent recruitment of several carp year classes in Virgin Lake. Bullheads, a species that are very resilient to low oxygen, comprised the majority (49 percent) of the total Virgin Lake fyke net catch. These results of the 2010 fall fyke net assessment also suggests that a partial to moderate winter kill did occur on Virgin Lake during the 2009 – 2010 winter season. Since 1997, 127,200 pounds of rough fish has been removed under commercial contract from Virgin Lake with carp (60,450 pounds) and buffalo (66,650 pounds) comprising the majority of the total catch. During the 2010 season, buffalo (1,450 pounds) were captured in comparable numbers, (1,650; 343 – 4336 lower and upper percentiles) with carp (50 pounds) captured in significantly less, when compared to the Spirit Lake District median value (2,050 pounds per haul). The low poundage of carp harvested by the commercial angler provides more evidence that a severe winterkill occurred during the 2009 – 2010 winter season at Virgin Lake. The 2009 – 2010 winterkill appears to have had less of an inpact to the bigmouth buffalo population of Virgin Lake, due to the fact that this species is more tolarant to low dissolved oxygen levels.(2010)

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Fish Surveys

Lake Fish Survey Data Data from the most recent fisheries survey of this lake is provided on this external web site. This data may include information from various netting surveys and/or electroshocking surveys. Data includes numbers of fish sampled, and fish size ranges. Not all lakes are sampled every year.

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Water Quality

Iowa-Caught Fish Are Safe to Eat, In Almost All Cases

The vast majority of Iowa’s streams, rivers and lakes offer safe and high-quality fish that pose little or no threat to human health if consumed. Some limitations may apply for young children and pregnant women. Here’s a Fish Consumption Fact Sheet from the Iowa DNR and the Iowa Dept. of Public Health for more information. Here is a list of current fish consumption advisories for Iowa lakes and rivers.