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  • Rusty and Cindy Stimmel

Minnesota Fish: Rock Bass

Minnesota was a difficult state for us. We camped on Kabetogama in Voyagers National Park. The lake holds pike, walleye, smallmouth bass, perch and several types of sunfish. We expected to easily catch some fish on a fly and get the Minnesota fish. We rented a canoe, swamped it, then tried fly-fishing from shore without success.

We went to Ely Minnesota and planned to rent a canoe and visit Canoe Waters. We did not rent a canoe and I fished from shore. We stayed at Arrowhead RV Resort, a mistake. We walked to “Spirit of the Wilderness” an outfitter for canoe trips and other outings. I talked to a sales woman who was knowledgeable about fly fishing in the area. She recommended that I fish the Shagawa river below Shagawa Lake. There is a large pool, almost a pond were pike smallmouth and various sunfish are present. The pool is wadable with caution. The bottom is of varied composition. There are rocks, weed beds and muck. The muck is very soft, and your boots will sink and become imbedded in the mud.

Rusty fished the area for about 90 minutes with no success then called a break. We returned to camp and ate dinner and returned to fish more. The fishing was poor with no hits until about 45 minutes prior to sundown. Rusty had seen a few rock bass and smallmouth bass moving around in the water while he was wading. Finally, he had a hit and landed a rock bass. We took pictures of the rock bass and assumed that a pike or smallmouth would hit prior to dark, none did. Cindy was fishing for sunfish with her light weight spinning rod with no success. When it was too dark to wade safely, Rusty got out of the water. He put a small floating minnow imitation that ran about 2-3 feed deep during the retrieve on Cindy’s rod. Rusty removed his waders while she fished. When Rusty had finished putting away his fly gear, he took three cast with her rod and caught a 20-inch pike. We only caught one fish on a fly in Minnesota, a rock bass so that is the fish for Minnesota.

The only working cameras we had at this time were the gopro and our damaged phones, thus the poor pictures.