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Minnesota River offers mystery, diversity


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MN DNR Release

Looking to add more diversity, mystery and excitement to your fishing outings? Head for the Minnesota River.

At last count, 63 different species of fish were known to inhabit this 334-mile long river that begins at Big Stone Lake in western Minnesota and eventually joins the Mississippi River at Fort Snelling in St. Paul. From trophy-size flathead catfish to walleye and sauger, shovelnose sturgeon, white bass and more, anglers never know what type or size of fish might latch onto their bait when fishing this historic river.

Lee Sundmark, Department of Natural Resources Fisheries (DNR) supervisor at Hutchinson, said the Minnesota River has become increasingly popular with anglers and boaters in recent years.

“We have seen a tremendous amount of work by local citizens, organizations and agencies devoted to improving the river’s water quality in recent years,” Sundmark said. “As a result, more people realize what an outstanding resource the Minnesota River is and they’re taking greater advantage of it.”

From short stretches of white water to longer stretches of quiet water, the personality of the Minnesota River can change often. From Granite Falls to North Redwood, the river flows through an area of granite outcrops that date back some three billion years.

Stretches of the Minnesota River are included in the Minnesota Wild and Scenic rivers system. To be eligible for inclusion, the river or segment of a river and its adjacent lands must possess outstanding scenic, recreational, natural, historical, scientific, or similar values. Two segments of the Minnesota River between Lac qui Parle and Franklin are classified as scenic and one as recreational.

Anglers can fish by motorboat, by canoe or from shore and there are campsites and boat launching sites at various locations all along the river. Other than an occasional town or farm, long stretches of the river remain secluded and undeveloped.

“Years ago, the Minnesota River was basically a sewer system for towns built on its banks,” Sundmark said. “But eventually people discovered how wrong that was and what a valuable asset the river could be. Today, those same communities are embracing the river. They are building parks and trails and other amenities next to it, even holding festivals to celebrate the river.”

The Minnesota River was a major transportation route for Indians, settlers, explorers and fur traders. During the late 1800s, the Minnesota River was used to float logs and power sawmills and steamboats were once a common sight. For those interested in Minnesota history, there are numerous historical and cultural sites located along the length of the river, as well as the Minnesota River Scenic Byway for the auto traveler.

There are six state parks situated along or near the Minnesota River between Ortonville and Mankato. They are Big Stone Lake, Lac qui Parle, Upper Sioux Agency, Fort Ridgely, Minneopa and Flandrau.

The Minnesota River Valley Birding Trail includes 132 birding locations with the river’s watershed.

As with any river, high water currents can be potentially dangerous and navigation hazards can arise during periods of low water. However, during most of the summer and fall, the river is mild-mannered and peaceful.

Information about current water levels, accesses, and camp sites can be found on the DNR Web site.

“The Minnesota River is truly an amazing fishery,” Sundmark said. “It’s not uncommon for people to land 30 or 40-pound flathead catfish, along with some dandy walleyes. Spending a few hours in a lawn chair on a river sandbar or bank can be a great time.”

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This sounds like a great place to fish, I should try it sometime wink

Great article! I can verify the river is a lot cleaner today then 20 years ago, and hopefully we will continue working on cleaning it up in the future as well. It is my favorite fishery

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Nice write-up. I hear ya Wandering, it amazes me everytime I see the 1st bend upstream from Henderson landing...the bank/riverbed looks to have been a dumping ground at one time. I am sure this was common practice "back in the day" in other communities along the river; definitely is a resilient body of water.

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great write up and thats why I love the river it changes daily and there is always something to see be it wildlife, flowers trees the list goes on and on and lets not forget about the fishing. Ive met alot of river folk that are unforgetable and some of the nicest people on the face of the earth.

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I am very thankful to live on the Minnesota River. It's a 5 minute drive max to spots that can produce huge fish. I'm going to miss it in August when I move back to Long Lake. I guess I'll just have to drive a little farther and fish near Chaska.

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This is all just a lie. There are no fish in this river. Plus it's stinky and there are too many bugs....

wink

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and really muddy, and the only people that fish it are dirty unshowerd people with mullets grin

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always welcome in my little honey holes.

I'm leaving this one alone gringrinconfusedlaugh

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LOL Wow ya I should've seen that one coming WELL before typing it!!!!!!!

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and really muddy, and the only people that fish it are dirty unshowerd people with mullets grin

I might be dirty and unshowered but I definitely don't have a mullet.....

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You may have to show me the ropes up there here-kitty-kitty

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  • Your Responses - Share & Have Fun :)

    • partyonpine
      Opener and the week after were good.  Not the numbers we normally get but better quality in the East End.  Not surprised on the weights for the Auto City a.  Usually for us we only catch a few slot fish but we averaged 3 a day for 10 days.  2 overs, biggest 27 inches.     Our best luck was 12-16 feet for quality.  When we went deeper we caught more but smaller.  Bass were really starting to heat up.  For me little earlier than normal.  Found some nice Bluegills the day we went after some panfish.  Dock fishing was as many as we wanted per usual.
    • Shulsebus
      We will be up on June 8th for the week. It will be our 13th year in a row staying on the lake.  I hope the walleye are hitting the bobbers by the time that we get there. 
    • SkunkedAgain
      Those are some fine specimens. Great job
    • gimruis
      I'm quite shocked to hear that a walleye tournament is still doing a live weigh in.  Virtually every event these days around here is doing a catch, photo, and release format.   Regardless, nice work.  Congrats.
    • LakeofthewoodsMN
      On the south end...   A great week of fishing with walleyes and saugers caught in good numbers.   The go-to presentation, again, was a jig and frozen emerald shiner.  Emerald shiners are a staple in LOW and walleyes love them.  Other minnows worked also, but emerald shiners are a favorite of anglers for good reason.   The Lighthouse Gap area, Morris Point Gap and just in front of Pine Island held nice fish in 17 - 21' of water.  Various schools of walleyes and saugers across the south shore.     A quarter ounce jig in gold, glow white, pink, orange, chartreuse, or a combo of these colors tipped with a minnow worked well again.   Some big pike and jumbo perch being caught by walleye anglers. On the Rainy River...  Some nice walleyes were caught on the river this weekend, although most anglers normally head to the lake.  12 - 15' of water is holding some nice fish.   Sturgeon fishing on the Rainy River is closed until the keep season starts up again July 1st. Up at the NW Angle...  Some nice walleyes being caught along with a mixed bag.  12 - 25 feet of water.  Points, neck down areas and bays with warming water were holding good fish this week.    The go-to presentation was a jig and minnow as on the south shore.  A mixed bag as is common around the Angle.  
    • leech~~
      Nice work!   Here's two words you hardly ever hear anyone say anymore.  "grateful and humbled"   
    • Brianf.
      RLG, thanks for the shout-out!     Jeff and I are still trying to wrap our heads around what happened this past weekend.  We are humbled and full of gratitude  for having won 'The Classic' for a second time.     We practiced through all the rain on Thurs and the wind on Friday and found six different spots holding big fish.  Fishing was good on both days with several 'overs' in our catch...but would it hold up for another day?   We didn't know.     On tourney day, we made a long run to our first spot where I lucked out on a 26.5"er on my second cast.  Jeff followed up with a thick 27" er a few minutes later, which turned out to be the big fish for the event at 7.26lbs.  We finished out our limit and weighed-in at 10:30 am for the welfare of the fish in our livewell.    There were some big weights in this event which would have won in most other years, but - for whatever reason - this was our day.  Everything just went our way.  Again, we are just super grateful and humbled by this success.  We also want to congratulate all the other anglers who did well and give a big 'thank you' to the tournament organizers who put on such a great event!  
    • SkunkedAgain
      I had a good start to the season on opener. Fishing was slow but consistent. I had four eaters in the box by lunch dragging perch raps. Crappies were biting. I haven't been up since so don't know how things have changed since then, but I'm sure the walleye continue to migrate out into the main basins.
    • redlabguy
      Let’s start this by congratulating Brianf and son for winning their second City Autoglass Walleye Classic last weekend. These guys know how to fish.  We just got to the lake for the season. Chores are almost done and I’m ready to fish.  red(new dog is more yellow)labguy
    • Jetsky
      I tried starting a 2024 Lake Vermilion Fishing Report topic but it doesn't show up on this board.   Maybe somebody else knows how to do it?
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