BEST FISHING HOLE - 2005
Yes, the Minnesota River is a sick river. Fouled by agriculture (it has the misfortune to run through the farm belt), the Minnesota is the most polluted waterway in the state. Despite some recent improvements, it still makes the lists of the country's most endangered waterways. This is a real shame. Stretches of the Minnesota--mainly, those west of Shakopee--are among the most beautiful and wild places in the metro area. (And we do mean wild; a few years back, a mountain lion was discovered hunting deer in the river valley near Savage). Because the water quality is so notoriously shitty, the Minnesota receives remarkably little pressure from anglers. And therein lie its great virtues. On a hot summer afternoon, you can launch at Shakopee, cruise 10 miles upstream (watch out for deadheads and sandbars), and only encounter a handful of humans. You might see a yahoo on a jet ski or a few kayaks, but mainly your fellow river users will be shore-fishermen. Catfish, both channels and flatheads, are the river's chief attractions. Yet the Minnesota also holds populations of some 70 other species of fish. There are the usual game fish: walleye, northern pike, white bass. But for the curious angler, the river also offers another enticement: a long-odds chance at laying into two of the strangest-looking, most prehistoric fish species found in all of Minnesota, namely the gar and the paddlefish.