Effort under way to increase knowledge of Red River fishery

St. Paul — Anglers who fish the Red River this year may see fisheries management work under way as the Minnesota DNR and North Dakota Game and Fish Department conduct a fish population assessment and an angler creel survey. 

“The population assessment will target channel catfish, but will provide valuable information on other species, as well,” said Jamison Wendel, DNR Red River fisheries specialist. “We conduct the fish population and creel surveys every five years.”

The Red River is a destination fishery that attracts a significant number of out-of-area anglers – including those from the Twin Cities and other states – seeking trophy-sized channel catfish.

Some anglers may be interviewed by DNR personnel at access points along the river during the creel survey that began May 1 and will run through Wednesday, Sept. 30.

“The purpose of the creel survey is to measure fishing pressure and angler catch,” Wendel said. “Data collected from these surveys on the Red River will provide information to support fisheries-management decisions and develop future management plans.”

The population assessment will include sampling with trap nets and trot lines, and will begin in late May and continue for two to three weeks. Biologists will gather data on fish size, relative numbers, and age.

During this year’s population assessment, the DNR will collaborate with the province of Manitoba, assisted by the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, to mark channel catfish with small tags near the dorsal fin.

“The fisheries resources of the Red River are shared with our Canadian neighbors, and this study will help us understand migration and dispersal of fish between nations,” Wendel said. “It may also help us evaluate fish passage related to recent dam-modification projects along the Red River and tributary streams.”

The DNR is asking anglers who catch channel catfish to report any fish that are tagged. All tags will have a unique number to identify the fish, as well as a toll free number, (855) 207-7706, to call and report the tag.

When reporting a tagged fish, anglers should be prepared to provide tag number; date of capture; location of capture; fish length; whether the fish was harvested or released; and personal contact information (optional) if the angler is interested in receiving some background on the fish he or she caught.

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