BEST FISHING HOLE (URBAN) - 2000
By and large, Minnesotans have always displayed a fierce if somewhat pointless preference for lakes over rivers. Look at your license plate: It says "land of 10,000 lakes" (actually there are more than 12,000), yet nary a mention of the state's many lovely rivers and streams. Fine with us. Let the suckers fish the city lakes for crappie and bluegill so puny their fillets insult a saltine. That leaves the sweetest, most varied angling in the metro to those in the know. For our money, nothing in these parts beats the Mississippi River, particularly Pool 2, a blessedly underfished stretch of big river extending from the Ford Dam (just south of the 46th Street bridge) to Hastings. Maybe anglers avoid Pool 2 because they've heard of the terrible pollution that long plagued the river; in the early Sixties, gill net surveys found only two species--the emerald shiner and the white bass--hardy enough to survive the sullied water. The passage of the Clean Water Act of 1974, however, has led to a rebirth of the Mighty Miss--testament to the virtues of the benchmark environmental law and the resilience of nature. Today Pool 2 is the dim sum of Minnesota fisheries. In all there are some 33 species here--everything from trophy-size walleye to monstrous catfish to hefty northerns, not to mention a plethora of underappreciated, often maligned game fish: the freshwater drum, the carp, the mooneye, the bigmouth buffalo, the bowfin, and the gar, a prehistoric relic of a fish with a long toothy bill and armor so stout that you need tin snips to get at the meat. There's no shortage of prime spots along Pool 2, but the sandy beach at the confluence of the Mississippi and Minnehaha Creek is a good place to start. So plant your ass on a plastic bucket, admire the splendors of the gorge, and toss a night crawler into the current. One caveat: two of the major game species found in Pool 2--walleye and northern--are catch-and-release only.