Christopher Smith

Mississippi River Smallmouth Bass Fishing In Minnesota

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Mississippi River smallmouth bass fishing in Minnesota is getting better every year thanks to a revitalized river that is home to many thriving fish species.

By reducing pollution in the river, the once “dead” Mississippi has become a wonderful resource and is being enjoyed by more and more anglers.  As seen in the recent study by the National Park Service, the Mississippi River in Minnesota is the healthiest it’s been in a generation.

Revitalized Mississippi

“The river was dead in 1926,” said Trevor Russell, watershed program director for the river advocacy group. Old surveys show that only two living fish were recorded downstream of St. Anthony Falls. Decades of sewage, industrial pollutants and dam construction destroyed the fisheries.

All the way through the 1970s, the river was in essence a conduit for sewage.

“That was the practice,” said Tim Scherkenbach, a retired deputy commissioner of the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency. “The river was seen as a natural flushing system.”

Putrid mats of solid waste used to build up behind the Ford Dam, he said, and nothing lived at the bottom of river…

Once the pollution stopped, the river began to heal itself.

Today, it supports quality fisheries for catfish, walleyes and smallmouth bass. The number of walleye catches has tripled since 1979, according to data from the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources. Of the 120 native species of fish that used to ply the water below St. Anthony Falls, a natural fish barrier, 119 are back.

The bald eagles, once endangered, are now commonplace, thanks to the Endangered Species Act and bans on destructive pesticides such as DDT. Today, there are 36 active nests along the 72-mile stretch of the river, and each produces on average two nestlings per year, according to the Park Service counts.  Source

Mississippi River Smallmouth Bass Fishing In Minnesota

The Mississippi in Minnesota is really three distinct rivers: the relatively shallow upper section north of the Twin Cities, the metro river flowing through the cities and the gargantuan lower Miss from Hastings down to the Iowa border. While the lower river suffers ongoing abuse from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ dredging activities, plenty of smallmouths still swim in this portion of mighty Old Man River.

In fact, in recent years, smallmouth numbers in the lower river seem to have increased, according to DNR surveys and angler reports. This is likely due to clearing water, plus an increasing catch-and-release ethic among anglers. Most smallies caught are under the Mississippi’s 14-inch minimum size regulation, but serious bassers are also landing and releasing 18- and 19-inch lunkers.

The river’s hundreds of wing dams and miles of riprapped banks are the prime places to find smallmouths, and a few lunkers will also be found in side channels around wood cover. Crankbaits are the most popular big-river lures, but jigs and 1/4-ounce spinnerbaits often do a better job when the fish are sluggish.   Source

With the natural habitat so favorable to smallmouth bass and the recovery of the mighty river, Mississippi River smallmouth bass fishing in Minnesota is better than ever.

If you have some stories to tell about fishing the Mississippi, please post them here.  You can upload pictures as well here and they will be placed in a gallery devoted to Minnesota smallmouth bass fishing here.

Tight lines everyone!

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