Farm Island Lake, Minnesota, USA

Lake Locations:

USA - Midwest - Minnesota - Central -

With over 2000 acres of water hidden behind an unassuming name, Farm Island Lake is sheer Central Minnesota delight. The lake is named for the largest of its three small islands; 29-acre Farm Island was the site of large farm fields by the Ojibwa who first inhabited the area. Now, it holds a few exclusive private homes, accessible only by water. The other two small islands also hold a handful of homes. Wild, untamed space is one of the most striking features at Farm Island Lake; much of the shoreline is pristine with the few higher-end housing developments well-spaced and generously sheltered by trees. And under the clear, clean waters live that favorite prey of Minnesota anglers, the walleye.

Water fun is almost mandatory here, and the lake is large enough for water skiing and other fast-paced watersports. Two public boat launch ramps allow access to the lake from both north and south ends. Farm Island Lake is surrounded by other lakes both big and small (Mille Lacs Lake is only five miles away), so it gets less fishing and boating pressure than other, better-known lakes nearby. That makes the lake a quiet refuge for both homeowners and visitors to the two resorts nestled along the shore. Although there are fewer resort lodges at Farm Island Lake than years past, those that remain have been the vacation destinations of many families for generations. The resorts sell many of the necessary staples visitors will need. Both resorts offer housekeeping cabins, campground space, docks, boat rentals and a few groceries along with the ever-necessary fishing licenses. One offers seasonal RV spaces and RV lots for purchase. The other makes sure to have at least one cabin open for winter ice fishing guests. Both offer sandy swim beaches and provisions for anglers who arrive via float plane.

Farm Island Lake is probably best known as a fishing destination. The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (MDNR) stocks walleye fingerlings three out of four years. The waters also hold northern pike, largemouth bass, smallmouth bass, crappie, bluegill and yellow perch. A slot limit on walleye prevents fishermen from keeping those between 16 and 19 inches to encourage larger fish in the future. Because the uneven lake floor holds both relatively deep holes and shallow spots resembling sunken islands, there is plenty of structure for fish habitat. The lake is one of several located along the Ripple River (formerly Mud River) which winds its way through the many lakes in the area to empty into the Mississippi River near Aiken seven miles away. There are a couple of small towns along the north shore of Mille Lacs Lake, so bait, supplies, gas and food are just a short drive away.

Winter is nearly as popular as summer to visit the Farm Island Lake area. Ice fishing is a serious sport, with ice fishermen arriving to rent ice shanties, brave the cold and hopefully pull in a trophy fish. The sport is so celebrated locally that nearby Aiken hosts its “World Famous Fishhouse Parade” the day after Thanksgiving each year. Typical of the kind of humor often exhibited by people who voluntarily spend hundreds of hours living in a temporary shelter on the ice (although some actually have satellite TV, cooking facilities and rudimentary plumbing), the gaudily-decorated ice fishing houses are paraded through the streets on floats amid a festival dedicated to just plain silliness. Thousands of observers come from miles around to view the unusual sights.

Farm Island Lake has so far escaped the entry of most invasive species of aquatic plants. Years of eradication efforts have Curly Pond Weed down to a few small patches, considered as being under control. In recent years the MDNR has instituted boat inspections on arriving boats at both public boat ramps. The local Farm Island Lake Association trains and organizes volunteers from among its members to assist with inspections. The lake association also works to coordinate community events such as a boat parade each year and opportunities for members to get to know one another, promoting a sense of community. Other activities include boating safety, including necessary buoy placement, a loon nesting program, water quality and invasive plant monitoring, road clean-up and donations of needed funds to both local police and fire departments.

The only piece of public land along the shore is the 38-acre Farm Island Lake Wildlife Management Area at the south end of the lake. The WMA consists almost entirely of marsh and bog lands and harbors a large number of waterfowl. The area is only accessible from Farm Island Lake. There are no organized trails at the lake itself, but the quiet residential roads around the lake are ideal for walking, cycling and nature viewing. Those wishing to enjoy public lands are only a couple of miles or so from Wealthwood State Forest. A major snowmobile trail crosses Wealthwood diagonally and skirts Farm Island Lake on the east side at the main road. The trail can be used year round for hiking, cross-country skiing and snowshoeing. Dispersed camping is permitted in certain areas of Wealthwood, as are off-road vehicles. Two large campgrounds and many acres of public land are located at the south end of Mille Lacs Lake at Father Hennepin State Park and Mille Lacs Kathio State Parks.

No visit to the area is complete without a stop at the Mille Lacs Indian Museum and Trading Post. A partnership project between the Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe and the Minnesota Historical Society, the exhibits trace the history, culture and life issues of the local Mille Lacs band. The trading post sells authentic handcrafts made by residents on the nearby Mille Lacs Reserve. The reservation is private property, but the band has capitalized on the interests of visitors with a nearby full-service casino.

Only a hundred miles from Duluth and two hours by car from the Twin Cities, Farm Island Lake is accessible for either a short weekend or a longer stay. Motels, bed & breakfasts, guest cottages, private rentals and other lodging opportunities are available near the lake. These facilities and the local restaurants, cafes and family taverns are handy for meals and a good night’s sleep. Real estate is available in a wide range of prices. So, come experience Farm Island Lake.

Things to do at Farm Island Lake

  • Vacation Rentals
  • Fishing
  • Ice Fishing
  • Boating
  • Swimming
  • Beach
  • Water Skiing
  • Camping
  • Campground
  • Cabin Rentals
  • Hiking
  • Biking
  • Cross-Country Skiing
  • Snowmobiling
  • Wildlife Viewing
  • State Park
  • State Forest
  • Museum
  • Casino Gambling

Fish species found at Farm Island Lake

  • Bass
  • Black Bass
  • Bluegill
  • Crappie
  • Largemouth Bass
  • Northern Pike
  • Perch
  • Pike
  • Smallmouth Bass
  • Sunfish
  • Walleye
  • Yellow Perch

Farm Island Lake Photo Gallery

Farm Island Lake Statistics & Helpful Links

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Lake Type: Natural Freshwater Lake, Not Dammed

Surface Area: 2,054 acres

Shoreline Length: 15 miles

Normal Elevation (Full Pond): 1,256 feet

Average Depth: 18 feet

Maximum Depth: 56 feet

Water Residence Time: 5 years

Drainage Area: 39 sq. miles

Trophic State: Mesotrophic

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Trophic State | LakeLubbers

Trophic State measures the level of algae and nutrients in a lake.

An oligotrophic lake is very clear (blue in color) and does not support much plant or fish life. A hyper-oligotrophic lake is the clearest of all lakes, and is nearly devoid of plants and fish.

A mesotrophic lake is slightly green and supports a moderate degree of plant and fish life. A lake's most desired trophic state is generally this mid-point - the mesotrophic state.

A eutrophic lake is somewhat murky and supports a large amount of plant and fish life. A hypereutrophic lake is clouded with algae, plant life, and fish life. A eutrophic or hyper-eutrophic lake can be difficult to navigate by boat - and is often an unpleasant place to swim.

The use of phosphorus-rich and nitrogen-rich fertilizer on lawns and golf courses surrounding a lake can cause it to become eutrophic or hypereutrophic.


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Catchment or Drainage Area | LakeLubbers

This is the surrounding area that drains into a lake, including land, rivers and their tributaries. This is also known as the lake's "catchment basin".

Small lakes at the highest peaks of mountains have small drainage areas. The world's oceans have the largest drainage areas.


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Lake-Area Population | LakeLubbers

This is the estimated number of people who live in a house with a view of a lake, plus those who self-describe the lake as their home, for example: "I live at Smith Mountain Lake."


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Water Residence Time | LakeLubbers

This is the estimated time that it takes for an amount of water equal to the entire volume of a lake to flow out of - or evaporate from - the lake.

Residence Time can be as short as a few days for fast-flowing small lakes, and can exceed 100 years for slow-flowing large lakes.


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Completion Year | LakeLubbers

This is the year that a reservoir was first filled to the reservoir's normal elevation - or the year that a natural lake was first dammed. A large reservoir can take more than a year to fill after its dam is first closed.

The Grand Anicut in southern India is generally considered the world's oldest dam that still operates. Grand Anicut was constructed in the second century BC. It now impounds an irrigation network that includes roughly one million acres.

You can find many of the the world's newest reservoirs on LakeLubbers. Many of the world's oldest reservoirs appear on the last page of that list.


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Water Volume | LakeLubbers

This is the estimated volume of water that a lake contains -- measured at the lake's normal elevation. By this measure, the world's largest freshwater lake is Siberia's Lake Baikal.

You can find many of the the world's largest lakes (by water volume) on LakeLubbers.

Water Volume can be measured in acre-feet, in cubic miles, or in cubic kilometers. One acre-foot is the amount of water needed to cover one acre (43,560 square feet) to a depth of one foot. One cubic mile equals 3,379,200 acre-feet. One cubic kilometer equals 810,713 acre-feet.

1 acre-foot is equal to 325,851 US gallons. Siberia's Lake Baikal contains about 6,276,367,740,000,000 gallons of freshwater - nearly 1 million gallons for every living person on earth.

The other - and more widely used - measure of a lake's size is the lake's surface acreage. By that measure, the world's largest freshwater lake is North America's Lake Superior.


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Maximum Depth | LakeLubbers

This is the estimated greatest depth of the water in a lake -- measured at the lake's normal elevation. The world's deepest lake is Siberia's Lake Baikal; that lake's maximum depth is estimated at 5,314 feet.

You can find many of the the world's deepest lakes on LakeLubbers. If you select the last page of that list, you will find the (maximum depth of) the shallowest lakes in our database.


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Average Depth | LakeLubbers

This is the estimated average depth of the water in a lake -- measured at the lake's normal elevation. If the water volume and surface area of a lake are known, an estimate of the lake's average depth can be calculated:

Water volume ÷ Surface Area = Average Depth

Example: 1,000,000 acre-feet ÷ 20,000 acres = 50 feet average depth


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Maximum Elevation | LakeLubbers

This is a lake's highest water level, measured by the lake's surface distance above sea level, that can occur during flooding. A lake's highest possible maximum elevation is usually the top of the lake's dam or spillway.

At lakes that include residential development, government regulations usually forbid the construction of homes below a lake's maximum elevation.


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Minimum Elevation | LakeLubbers

This is a lake's lowest water level, measured by the lake's surface distance above sea level, that can be reasonably expected to occur. Low lake levels can occur due to deliberate seasonal draw downs for irrigation or impending snow melt, reduced water inflows, drought and evaporation, residential or commercial water demands, and hydropower generation.

Some lakes' minimum and maximum elevations are virtually the same. Lakes that generate hydropower may vary by several feet - according to power demand. Lakes whose primary purpose is to prevent flooding can seasonally vary by 100 feet or more.

When some lakes reach their minimum elevation, their boat ramps may not be long enough to permit boat access - and boats docked on shallow parts of the lake may end up on dry ground. In those cases, kayakers and shore-based anglers may be among the few happy recreational users of the lake.


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Normal Elevation | LakeLubbers

This is a lake's normal water level, measured by the lake's surface distance above sea level. For a reservoir, this water level is also known as "full pond" or "full pool".

You can find many of the world's highest-elevated lakes on LakeLubbers. Lakes with the lowest elevations (known by LakeLubbers) are shown on the final page of that list.


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Shoreline Length | LakeLubbers

This is the length of the exterior shoreline around a lake - measured at the lake's normal elevation. The shoreline length can be considerably shorter or longer when lake water levels are lower or higher than normal.

A lake with many coves has a much longer shoreline than a lake of similar surface area that is nearly circular in shape.

When known, the shoreline miles that we report in our statistics include only the lake's exterior shoreline, and exclude the shorelines of islands located within a lake's boundaries. In lakes with many islands, those islands' combined shorelines may exceed a lake's exterior shoreline.

You can find many of the world's longest-shoreline lakes on Lakelubbers.


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Surface Area | LakeLubbers

This is the area (acreage, square kilometers, etc.) of the top surface area of a lake - measured at a lake's normal elevation. The surface area can be considerably smaller or larger when lake levels are lower or higher than normal. North America's Lake Superior is the world's largest freshwater lake by this measure.

The other measure of a lake's size is the lake's water volume. By that measure, the world's largest freshwater lake is Lake Baikal in Siberia.

You can find many of the world's largest lakes (acres) on Lakelubbers. There is no widely-accepted minimum surface area that defines a lake. What Lakelubbers describes as a lake, you might call a pond. The smallest lake that Lakelubbers currently includes is Hawaii's 2-acre Lake Waiau.


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Water Level Control | LakeLubbers

This is the organization that controls water releases or outflows from the lake or reservoir. In the USA, this is often the US Army Corps of Engineers, a power company, a municipal water system, an irrigation district, or a paper manufacturing company. In the case of private or gated lakes, a homeowners' association may be the lake's controlling authority.

Many lakes cross borders, including North America's Great Lakes. The control of such lakes and their coveted freshwater may be amicably shared - or hotly disputed.

"Water wars" continue at many lakes as growing populations and crop irrigation needs compete for the freshwater that lakes contain.


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Lake Type | LakeLubbers

There are 3 basic types of lakes that are currently included on LakeLubbers. 2 types may be dammed or not dammed, producing 5 classifications.

- A Reservoir is a man-made freshwater lake that is usually created by damming rivers.

- A Natural Freshwater Lake occurs naturally - often by glacial activity - and has a salinity of less than 30 parts per thousand. It may be dammed to produce electricity or for other reasons.

- A Natural Saltwater Lake occurs naturally and has a salinity of more than 30 parts per thousand (ppt). It may be dammed.

"Brackish" water may be categorized as freshwater or saltwater, depending on its salt content (salinity). Oligohaline water has less than 15 ppt of salt. Mesohaline water has 15-29 ppt. Polyhaline has 30-335 ppt.


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