Fly fishing enthusiasts take note. On Saturday, September 8, help celebrate Duluth’s restored section of the St. Louis River and future protection by competing in the 2nd annual “Paddle the Pads” fishing contest at the Fond Du Lac campground. More than a quarter mile of essential spawning beds and fish habitat were recreated thanks to the State of Minnesota’s Outdoor Heritage Fund.
Prizes will be awarded for the five longest bass:
1st: Scott Tidal 9ft 8wt Fly Rod
2nd: Waterworks-Lamson Speedster 2 Reel
3rd: Fishpond Green River Bag
4th: Echo Fly Rod 9’ 8wt
5th: Assorted Bass Flies
Hosted by Great Lakes Fly Shop, the contest has an entry fee of $25 and is limited to the first 100 paid participants. Proceeds benefit the Minnesota Land Trust. The fee includes entry to the tournament, Coffee and Donuts from Amity Coffee Shop, and Yker Acres Brat Social at 6:30 Saturday night, after the tournament closes.
If you don’t want to fish but still want to join in the tournament fun, come to the Brat Social (a donation of $5 is suggested).
To register for the tournament and find the complete contest rules, go to www.mnland.org. Additional contest support is provided by Scott Fly Rods, Waterworks Lamson, Fishpond, Echo, Amity Coffee Shop, Bent Paddle Brewing Company, Yker Acres Pork, and Skihut.
Extensive improvements to this section of the river were completed in 2016, part of a larger project to restore the St. Louis River Estuary as it runs between Duluth, MN, and Superior, WI. A 1,000-foot steel retaining wall at Chambers Grove that had been installed years ago had the unintended consequence of eroding the shoreline, preventing boat access to the river and destroying important fish spawning habitat.
The Minnesota Land Trust, Minnesota DNR and City of Duluth recognized the opportunity to replace this hardened shoreline with walleye and sturgeon spawning beds by removing the wall, redirecting the current and establishing the gravel and rock bottoms necessary for reproduction in the St. Louis River. This project was funded in part by Minnesota’s Outdoor Heritage Fund as approved by the Minnesota Legislature.
Fortunately, small gains in spawning habitat have large results for fish populations throughout the river and Lake Superior due to increases in larvae and fry survival.
“We’re thrilled that this fishing tournament is coming back for the second year to highlight the restoration” said Minnesota Land Trust’s Restoration Program Manager Daryl Peterson. “Not only did the project significantly improve the fish habitat, but it also improved recreational access to the River, making the investment pay off in multiple ways for the public.”
The Minnesota Land Trust is a membership-based non-profit organization. Its mission is to protect and restore Minnesota’s most vital natural lands in order to provide wildlife habitat, clean water, outdoor experiences and scenic beauty for generations to come. The organization has completed 553 conservation projects statewide, permanently protecting over 55,000 acres of natural and scenic land and over 300 miles of fragile shoreline.