Fishing the North Country

In late April, 2016 both nature writer Sam Cook and photographer Christian Dalbec published photographs of steelhead jumping the falls in the North Shore rivers to spawn.  The photographs thrilled me, and I regret that I didn’t drop what I was doing to go witness it for myself.  Ever since then I have been thinking about the wide array of fishing pleasures for the local angler.  Where besides here in the North Country can you choose between big lake fishing from a boat or from shore, go fishing in one of the many tributaries that feed Lake Superior, or experience fishing an inland lake, only to arrive at your chosen spot in minutes rather than hours?

The Minnesota portion of Lake Superior encompasses 1.4 million acres of fishing space.  Most of what can be caught are from the class of fish called Salmonids that includes coho, king and pink salmon as well as brown trout, steelhead and Kamloop rainbow trout.  Duluth has a vibrant charter boat business that serves both newcomers and old hands at big lake fishing.

So just what is a Kamloop?  Locally known as “loopers” they are a domesticated strain of West Coast steelhead that are bred and stocked by the Minnesota DNR.  Key to this program is our local French River Hatchery.  The program stocks over 90,000 yearling fish each year divided between stocking sites at the Lester River, McQuade Harbor, French River, Sucker River and Stoney Point.  Kamloops have a clipped adipose fin to distinguish them from the steelhead that must be released and not harvested.  If you come to enjoy the three-season Kamloops fishing, you may wish to join the Kamloops Advocates, a membership of North Shore anglers who support fish stocking to create recreational fishing opportunities.   

I regularly visit the Lake Walk and often my walk takes me along and over the Lester River.  During the right seasons, it is fun to stop and watch the anglers in waders testing their skills against the wily fish, especially the brook, brown and rainbow trout.  There are dozens of rivers and trout streams along the North Shore.  At Kiviranta we have Palmer Creek winding through our private trail area.  The DNR has designated it a trout stream. Our neighbor (a retired fisheries scientist) tells us it is a nursery stream rather than one for active fishing.  I’m looking forward to paying closer attention once we are living there.

The St. Louis River is in a class by itself.  The estuary runs 18 miles from Thompson Dam to the Superior Entry to Lake Superior and is home to over 45 native fish species.  Most anglers delight in the large plump walleye, musky and crappie fishing. Lake sturgeon are making a comeback in the St. Louis River, but are still catch and release.  The river is a success story for environmental cleanup, but it is not complete yet.  Be sure you check health advisories before consuming these fish.

Many prefer the calmer fishing of inland lakes where walleye, smallmouth bass, northern pike, perch and sunfish can all be fun to catch and delicious to eat. 

Ready to buy your fishing license and join us at Kiviranta?

Photo Credit: Sam Cook Outdoors Facebook 

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