If you’ve ever walked along the Cannon River in the Lower Arb, you will certainly have seen at least one group of fishermen stationed along the beach. You might also see students fishing the portion of Spring Creek across Highway 19, or at nearby Lyman Lakes. The popularity of fishing in Minnesota attests to the abundant and seemingly sustainable fish community in our region.
The cold, relatively nutrient-rich waters of the Cannon River and its tributaries, like Spring Creek, support a productive fish fauna. Many of our native fish species are so hardy and adaptable, you can find them even in the smallest pools. Sunfish (colloquially termed “bluegill”) and basses, for instance, are rather abundant in all Arb waters, even in small ponds that are isolated from the Cannon river during low-flow periods of the year. Sunfish are by far the easiest to catch, given their bold behavior and omnivorous diet; bass require some more experience and patience to reel in. Largemouth, smallmouth, and striped bass are highly predatory, capable of taking down a variety of animal prey including crayfish, frogs, and even other fish! Whereas bass are partial to vegetation overhangs near the waters’ edge, areas of algae or detritus accumulation attract large populations of channel catfish. When waters are clear, aggregations of more than 30 bullhead catfish– smaller, darker cousins of the former– can be seen from the Lyman Lakes bridge. In the deeper, cooler waters of the Cannon, much larger carnivorous species lurk about– pike, walleye, and muskellunge, rarely seen yet prized by fishermen. These can grow to very large sizes in rivers and large lakes, feeding on everything from fish to insects, and even small mammals and birds. In the spring, ducklings and young muskrats are particularly vulnerable to predation by these relatively giant, voracious fishes.
Whether you are new to fishing or an experienced angler, our local waters are great place to hone your skills. Just remember to get a Minnesota fishing license and follow proper catch limits!
–Reed Ebbinghaus ’21, for the Cole Student Naturalists