Special Regulations For Smallmouth Bass Limited To Mississippi River Between St. Cloud and Crow River
An experimental regulation credited with turning the Mississippi River between St. Cloud and Anoka County into a world-class smallmouth bass fishery will become permanent but will not be expanded to a 15-mile stretch of the Mississippi between the Crow River and Coon Rapids dam, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) has announced.
Statewide, anglers may keep six smallmouths with no size restrictions. The new special regulation, which limits anglers to three fish and requires the immediate release of all smallmouth bass from 12-to 20-inches in length, will apply to a 45-mile stretch of the Mississippi between the St. Cloud dam and the mouth of the Crow River, including tributaries up to the first road crossing or dam. Only one fish longer than 20 inches will be allowed.
Prior to 1990, when an experimental smallmouth regulation was implemented between Clearwater and Elk River, small fish dominated the river, with very few larger than 16 inches. In 1999, the experimental portion of the river was extended up to the St. Cloud dam and down to the confluence with the Crow River. The opportunity to catch quality-sized fish improved significantly since implementing the regulations, and the river has achieved a national reputation among smallmouth anglers.
A 2001-2002 radio telemetry study that showed smallmouth regularly migrating from the regulated to the unregulated stretch of the river led DNR fisheries staff earlier this year to propose applying the harvest restrictions to the entire pool between the St. Cloud and Coon Rapids dams. A 2007 creel survey also indicated that many anglers were in favor of extending the regulation to the Coon Rapids dam. But that proposal was met with strong local opposition, prompting the DNR to exclude that 15-mile section of river from the new regulations.