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With 10,000 lakes dotting the state from north to south, one might think that finding a good place to catch catfish in Minnesota would be comparable to finding a needle in a haystack. But when it comes to Minnesota catfish, it's actually Minnesota's rivers that dominate, with the state record for all three species of MInnesota catfish being caught in the state's rivers.
Types of Catfish
There are three main types of catfish that can be taken out of Minnesota waters. Blue catfish, channel catfish and flathead catfish. While all three of the state record fish were caught in the murky rivers of Minnesota, lakes are excellent locations for finding schools and catching your limit for a tasty fish fry. All three of the catfish are considered bottom feeders but can be hooked on a variety of live baits and lures.
St. Croix River
The St. Croix River creates the eastern border between Minnesota and Wisconsin, from the middle of the state to where it runs in to the Mississippi just south of Minneapolis/St. Paul. The water of the river is murky brown and it is home to a variety of fish, including sturgeon, muskie, northern pike and catfish. The state record for flathead catfish was caught in the St. Croix in 1970, a whopping 70-pound monster. On the St. Croix, 20-pound flatheads are not uncommon, with the best territory being by the bridges that span the river near the town of Stillwater. Public access to the river can also be sought in Afton, Lakeland, St. Croix Falls and Taylors Falls, among others.
The Minnesota River
The Minnesota River meanders across the southern part of the state, starting at Ortonville to the extreme west and ending just south of the city of Mankato in the southern middle of the state. The Minnesota state record for blue catfish was caught in the Minnesota River in 2002 and weighed just over 58 pounds. That may sound large, but the world record for the blue is 124 pounds. Because the Minnesota River is wide and has a fast-moving current, the river is an ideal habitat for blue catfish. Head for the 77 bridge off of Black Dog Road just outside of the Minnesota State Park for a great place to cast your line.
The Mississippi River
The Mississippi River has its birthplace in the north center of Minnesota. Fisherman can find all types of game fish in the river, including the channel catfish. The state record for channel catfish was caught in the Mississippi in 1975 and weighed in at 38 pounds. Surprisingly, the state record fish was caught in Hennepin County, which forms along the western side of Minneapolis/St. Paul. Here, the water is murky, with shipping traffic from the Twin Cities helping to stir up the water. The Mississippi River Pool 2 is located above the dam at Hastings. Catfish abound in this prime location and can be found in all sizes. Shore fishing can be sought at a number of prime locations, including: Lion's Park, Crosby Farm Park, Harriet Island Park and Hidden Falls Park, North and South.
While the state record for all three of the main catfish varieties in Minnesota were all from rivers, there are many lakes throughout the state that hold schools of smaller catfish, perfect for frying. Fishing in northern lakes like Cass Lake, Lake Vermillion, Rainy Lake and Leech Lake may yield results -- and you can also try your luck closer to the Twin Cities, with Lake Minnetonka being one of the most heavily populated southern Minnesota lakes.
- Minnesota DNR: State Fish Records
- Fishing Minnesota: St. Croix Flathead Catfish
- All About Fishing: Minnesota Catfish
- Land Big Fish: Blue Catfish State Record
- St. Croix River Fishing: Public Access to the St. Croix River
- Minnesota DNR: Mississippi River Pool 2
- YouTube: The Best Fishing Spots on Black Dog Road on the Minnesota River
Patrick Cameron is a freelance writer with 10 years of diverse experience in consumer goods branding, promotions and retail communications. He works out of his home in Denver, Colo. He received his Bachelor of Arts in mass communication from the University of Minnesota.