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St. Louis River - Safe to eat fish?

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Does anyone know how safe it is to eat fish from the St.Louis River? How polluted is the
river today, and do zebra mussels help
clean up the water?

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The water quality has dramatically improved over the years. I remember big chunks of foam that used to float due to the Potlatch paper mill. The paper industry has really cleaned itself up. There are be several areas of concern from industrial discharges. First, there is a mercury advisory on fish in the river, but many Minnesota also waters have a mercury advisory due to power plant emissions. Second, there are some bays (like Stryker Bay) that have coal tar sediments which are known carcinogens. But these seem to be stable and I'm unaware of any contaminaiton into walleyes. They've been covered by organic sediments for years and are not migrating. Third is the WLSSD sewer treatment discharge. Every day water is sampled under the Blatnik Bridge to check for bacteria such as coliform, etc. and Duluth's discharge permit requires that the bacteria level readings are within guidlines that the health department would allow for an open public swimming beach. I personally have fished and know many who have fished at the discharge and know of no one suffering any ill consequenses. Still, I don't keep any fish from that area because there are higher levels of bacteria there than at the sampling point under the Blatnik bridge. I know this information because I maintain the pollution control permit for my company and have contact with WLSSD and have asked them some of these questions, as well as following some of the controversy around Stryker bay. Zebra mussels are abundant in the river by the billions. They filter organic material out of the water and must leech calcium out for their shells. They are helping to clear up some of the naturally occuring tannin stain in the river but are doing much more harm than good. Undoubtedly there are other areas that I'm unaware of. One thing I know, a walley caught from the St.Louis River tastes just as good as any walleye caught from Winnie or any other good Minnesota Lake and I can't wait for my first fresh meal. Just follow the consumption guidelines.

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Well, I don't know all that tchnical stuff, but, I've been eatin' 'eyes from the St. Loui for over ten years, and I aint glowin' yet. Surface Tension, you oughtta try it, Yum!!!!....Hehehehe

Set the Hook!!


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musky hunter - thanks for the information, I
only eat the 15 & 16 inchers, they are the
safest. If you only eat 1 meal a week, I think people will be ok.

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  • 'we have more fun' FishingMN Creators

musky hunter that was some good info.

Lundman Im just ribbin ya on the river.
I started fishing it about 27 years ago. There was hardly any one fishing the river then. At that time not a lot was known about the river. I can tell you for sure there was a definite funky taste to the walleye's. Wasnt long till we figured out the lake run eye's and the resident river eye's taste differant. Any thing we thought that looked like a resident we threw back. Ive seen the average size walleye go way done from that time. In fact it was hard to find eater's. It was common to release a dozen fish every trip between 5-12 lb's.

About 5 years after the river was let out of the bag there was a flood (about 20) years ago). The DNR came out with a statement saying the river took a big FLUSH and it's now clean? There's still raw sewage dump's that happen up stream and every hard rain the storm sewer's fill up and WLSSD cant handle the flow so untreated sewage goes into the bay. Does this hurt any thing I dont know. This is just me but If I wont swim in the bay I surely wont eat a fish that was swimming in it either. smile.gif
You got to admit looking at industrial parks,grain elevators and the S__t plant sucks. grin.gif Not to mention the STINK! lol
But for a great place to fish in a town you cant beat the river.

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Lets compare the St. Louis river with another industrial fishery. I was in Green Bay last week for business, but was able to pull my boat along and pitched for walleyes. While the Fox does take a great run of walleyes, the heat wave last week warmed the water to 62 degrees, and thousands of walleyes backed out into Green Bay. You should see the scum stain on my boat! As far as industrial fisheries, I'll take the St. Louis over the Fox any day, and that river takes much more pressure than the St. Louis. The St. Louis isn't perfect, but it's good enough to hold walleyes most of the year. That in itself is a testament to how much it has improved and how good it is. Enjoy you're walleye meals!

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