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MN River Going to Die?


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Wondering what the MN DNR thinks the fate of the MN River and it's big cats and eyes will be this fall and winter if no rain occurs??

River was only about 15 feet wide at Granite Falls, MN under the bridge and that was 3 weeks ago! As a young boy I always wondered if I would see the day I could walk across the river in hip boots. Not proud to say it, but 25 years later it looks like I might.

I hope no one has seen any dead fish along the banks or stuck in any low pools of water.

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I think for the most part the fish are able to find deeper holes to hang out in, and what little current there is remaining keeps the water more oxygenated than an equivalently shallow lake. I think it'll be fine.

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I think for the most part the fish are able to find deeper holes to hang out in, and what little current there is remaining keeps the water more oxygenated than an equivalently shallow lake. I think it'll be fine.

+1

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Sounds like there might be some Catfish food coming down stream this spring.

If I remember right November is the wettest month of the year. Most cloudy days too. Hopefully we'll get some rain then.

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There's more of a problem with really low water in late July, August and early September as far as fish kills because warm water can't carry as much oxygen as cool water. Now that we're down into the 50's and 60's for water temp (and continuing to drop), the threat is decreasing. Remember too that MPCA has limited municipalities on their wastewater discharge when the river is a in a critically low stage during the summer and warmwater periods. That means there isn't more organic matter decaying and using up oxygen.

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This is good to hear. It's been a real bummer waiting for that river to rise the last few months! I suppose this could possibly make for some real good fall fishing with accessibility to the holes really easy now.

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This is good to hear. It's been a real bummer waiting for that river to rise the last few months! I suppose this could possibly make for some real good fall fishing with accessibility to the holes really easy now.

Well, some of the holes that would be EASILY accessible in a boat most years are now going to be almost impossible to get to without a jet boat, and even those might start to get tricky.

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Well, some of the holes that would be EASILY accessible in a boat most years are now going to be almost impossible to get to without a jet boat, and even those might start to get tricky.

What i meant is that you could take your time and walk the river bed to just about anywhere. By boat...No, they're not accessable.

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Just a heads up for ice fishing, shallow moving wate doesnt freeze well. So most of the river wont freeze hard enough to walk on, let alone riding sleds on this winter. Even though the flow is slow, the current will still be moving. What I think will hurt the river is if we dont have snow cover, and we get really cold, and it freezes the fresh water springs. Because right now, that is about all that is feeding the river, then it may just come to a halt, and we will have a 370 mile long 15 foot wide lake, that is frozen shut, except for 15 foot holes every few bends.

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I think the majority of water and flow right now is wastewater from cities. We were discussing this in the boat last night.

Take all the discharges and add up what they are putting in and there's your flow.

The gauges are all but flatlined and the river probably cannot get any lower than what it is now, unless for whatever reason cities quit putting water in.

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Between city discharge, and fresh water springs, that is about all that is keeping the river flowing right now. I dont see it dropping much more at all, unless we get a cold spell, that freezes the fresh water springs.

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I remember a college biology professor at MSU Mankato telling my class back in the mid 80's that we would live to see the Minnesota river only run in the spring due to global warming. I sure hope he was wrong...

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Speaking of springs. I was amazed the first time I fished at Henderson station. Most of my fishing had been up stream of there and when I moved down stream to H,S I couldn't believe how much faster the water was moving. Adding a Oz of led took care of that.

A few years ago I heard that something like 60% of the water in a river is from ground water. I wish I could remember the right #.

The less water there is the less places the fish have to hide! With cooler water the females put on the feed bag to make eggs and start to move up stream. Time to set up a milk run of deep holes and catch them as they move through. CPR if you would please. I do.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Yes, right now the feed bag is on and eyes are biting about as hard as they will.

They will this winter with lower oxygen levels if the snow gets deep. With the deep holes way less deep than normal and then a heavy coat of snow, I would guess there will be a winter kill fore sure, just a matter of how hard. Has always worked that way and I see no difference this season at all.

Just like all the state rearing ponds, very shallow and with alot of snow, itas all over for the fish in that lake. Guess thats why the DNR pulls all or as many fish out as they can before winter sets in.

River will fill up with eyes again.

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Just a heads up for ice fishing, shallow moving wate doesnt freeze well. So most of the river wont freeze hard enough to walk on, let alone riding sleds on this winter. Even though the flow is slow, the current will still be moving. What I think will hurt the river is if we dont have snow cover, and we get really cold, and it freezes the fresh water springs. Because right now, that is about all that is feeding the river, then it may just come to a halt, and we will have a 370 mile long 15 foot wide lake, that is frozen shut, except for 15 foot holes every few bends.

Sad but this could happen.

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Plenty of 20ft holes currently, and not many lakes that freeze out have cities feeding them water, 24/7.

Speaking only for the stretches I fish in, the river is low and slow, but still in good shape.

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Plenty of 20ft holes currently, and not many lakes that freeze out have cities feeding them water, 24/7.

Speaking only for the stretches I fish in, the river is low and slow, but still in good shape.

I know there are plenty of waste water discharges, but how healthy is that water? Is that water even a benefit to the fish? I know the one by me, they have a hard time getting the correct amount of chemicals mixed in, and when you drive by it, one time it will smell like poo, the next time like chlorine. I cant imagine, either of those are actually helping the water, or the fish out. I know the water flow is helped by it, but what about the actual benefit to the water? Is it better, or worse with the sewer water being drained in when the water is this low?

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I bet most of that water is much better than the ag runoff we normally see.

Most of them tbat will actually attract fish because the water is so clear wink

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Walked across the river at Hales bridge east of Franklin this past weekend. Knee-deep and less is all. Did find a hole 9-15 feet deep with the boat...no eyes biting for us in that hole on Saturday. Starting to feel better that the eyes and cats may survive if there are a few 15+ foot holes yet. Curious if anyone is finding fall walleyes and getting them to bite?

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I donated a few jigs and eventually caught a 3# channel cat on the river last night. Forgot the headlamp so evening was cut short at dark.

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  • 4 weeks later...

Progress on the muddy Minnesota

by Josephine Marcotty, Star Tribune

November 12, 2012

Nearly a decade of work to reduce pollution in the lower reach of the Minnesota River has paid off, state environmental officials announced Monday morning.

The river now has enough oxygen, even at low flows, to support fish, mussels, plants and other life, thanks to a gradual reduction since 2004 in phosphorous, a nutrient that can suppress oxygen and kill aquatic life.

Testing this summer, when the river was at its lowest point in years, showed the oxygen levels in the last 22 miles of the river now meet or exceed state standards, and that those goals were met two years early.

Phosphorus is also a culprit in blue-green algae growth, which can be toxic to people and animals.

The reductions are also good news for the Mississippi River south of Fort Snelling, where the two great rivers converge.

In 2004 the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (PCA) began tightening rules for wastewater treatment plants up and down the river. They gradually reduced their phosphorus emissions in a number of ways, including ponds to hold discharged water in the warm summer months when higher temperatures and lower flows would aggravate the problem. Treatment plants in 12 communities were upgraded, and others improved their treatment processes, state officials said.

In August, the PCA was able to test whether the changes were working. Surprisingly, they were working even better than expected.

"This happy discovery really emphasizes that environmental advances are long term and the resources dedicated are worth it," said PCA Commissioner Jean Linc Stine.

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The river now has enough oxygen, even at low flows, to support fish, mussels, plants and other life, thanks to a gradual reduction since 2004 in phosphorous, a nutrient that can suppress oxygen and kill aquatic life.

This is great to near, Scott. Thanks for the update. I'm not a big greenie by any means, as some may have guessed -- but even I can get behind common sense stewardship. Waste water treatment in the 21st century should be pretty good. They drink their own pee on the space station, for crying out loud. Granted I'm not advocating we go that far in general (can't imagine the expenses), but the cities should be mandated to update to latest common practices now and then. Glad to hear these upgrades are working.

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This is a great success to the municipalities across the river valley. It truely shows what the river quality is with the majority of water in it being from point source discharges-wastewater treatment facilities. It will be interesting to see when normal flows return what water quality does. At that time hopefully PCA and the Department of Agriculture will start having more productive conversations to regulate non point source dischargers.

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  • Your Responses - Share & Have Fun :)

    • leech~~
      Have you ever read the history of SPAM! It's very interesting! 🤭
    • leech~~
      Welcome to the forum and thanks for the ice report. I'm sure more reports on other lake will start coming in as more folks brave the ice. 
    • LakeofthewoodsMN
      On the south end... It is ice fishing time!  Some resorts (not all) have pulled out fish houses and it is game on.  Some ice trails are marked and open.  Check weight limits on each ice road as conditions can vary. Resorts who have fish houses on the ice will typically transport you out to their houses using light ice rigs for convenience and safety.   As we often say, ice conditions vary greatly on Lake of the Woods.  Some resorts have trails marked across Four Mile Bay out to fishing areas in front of Pine Island on the big lake.  Some resorts are not quite open as the ice where they go out still needs some time to thicken up.   Watch your favorite resort / outfitter social media pages for up to date info.   Work through resorts and outfitters on the ice, stay on the marked trails for safety, please don't exceed weight limits and drive slowly on the ice. Anticipation is high.  The early ice bite is normally very good!   Please remember to Keep It Clean, pick up everything around you and secure your garbage. On the Rainy River...   The Rainy River is frozen up.  Some locals who know the river have been checking ice and ice fishing with some walleyes and saugers in the mix.  As ice thickens, more areas will become accessible. Ice conditions vary and on the river there is current, so much like the lake, we encourage visitors to work through a resort or outfitter for safety.   Up at the NW Angle... Resorts have been monitoring ice conditions and starting to stake trails.  They are not ice fishing yet, but the ice is looking good and some guides scouting for fish give the thumbs up.  Stay in touch with your favorite NW Angle resort for further info.   Driving through Canada to reach the Angle no longer requires COVID vaccinations or the use of the ArriveCan App (which is optional).   For those looking to access the Angle while avoiding customs, there are few options.   1.  When ice conditions allow, the snowmobile trail will be groomed and staked from the south shore up to the Angle. 2.  The Lake of the Woods Passenger service provides round trip bombardier service across the lake.   3.  Lake Country Air provides air service to both the south end and NW Angle.    
    • thefishingpublic
      Any update on ice fishing? Was out on Green yesterday and there was about 5" of ice from the launch. Didnt push it too far. Really slow fishing.    Anyone fished Ann lake in the past year? Update? 
    • Coleman
      You're not fishing too far from home I see.  I was going to pop a couple holes on Saturday to check the status, I'm on the other side of the point.  Did you mark any fish on those bumps?  
    • smurfy
      no friggin way i'd let them worthless friggin pelicans do that. i'd make me a life size leech lookin scarecrow!!!!!!!!!!!🤣🤭   just joshing ya leech!!!!!!!!!!🤗 but i seriously wouldnt allow that  to happen!!!!!!!!
    • Mike89
      seem then birds do that too!!!   it is interesting the way they herd the fish and swoop in on them...  
    • smurfy
      yep, like leech said, best asking and going through a resort on the lake. i dont know anyone that would rent out there own personal house to someone else.   google Winnibigoshish resorts you'll get a bunch. i personally like highbanks!!!!!!!
    • leech~~
      Welcome to the forum.  Those are some pretty specific questions that are best answered by the resorts on the lakes that rent houses. Let us know if you find any good deals! 👍
    • gimruis
      I have a story about Elk Lake.  Last spring after ice out, I was crappie fishing out there in one of those shallow back water areas that hold dozens of puny crappies.  I caught over 100 in a couple hours.  I went back a week later, and one of the land owners came down to his dock and told me that a couple days earlier, a flock of pelicans was in there gulping up crappies as fast as they could.  Literally.  He said they would herd them into a corner and then other ones would swoop in with their gaping mouths/beaks and suck em down like a vacuum.  They did this for 2 days straight until there didn't appear to be any crappies left in there.   He said he considered putting a halt to it because they are gluttons and he could tell it was going to make a sizable dent in the crappie population, but he let it go because it was just "part of nature."  Needless to say, when I was back there fishing the second time, I didn't catch a single crappie and I had caught over 100 a week earlier.
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