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Fish Ladder on South Fork Crow River


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went fishing to the crow river today in hutchinson. usually can manage to catch a limit of channel cats outta there but not today, only 2 little ones. i figured out why when i went to where the dam once was and took a closer look at the fish ladder. i have read bout it a bit in the outdoor news. basically is just a tiered set of rocks creating rapids where the fish can go back up into the body of water where the dam had been. only problem is they are to high and big. the water doesnt run over them but rather around them and there is no rapid or current. i'd be impressed if a catfish or carp could make it down or up that ladder. but i have high doubts that a walleye would go through it. also the work with backhoes in the river really messed up the bottom structure of the river. mayb im just not the type of guy to accept change but i think this area of the crow that use to be really great has been seriously messed up. wut r ur thoughts? anyone else tried it since the construction and came out with even marginal succes?

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On the Red & Red Lake Rivers in NW MN where these Rock/Riffle dams have been installed to replace the lowheads, the fishing has changed quite a bit.

The lowheads always acted as a barrier to upstream movement of fish. When the rock/riffle dams were installed, this allowed the fish to move through the area. What happened on the Red Lake in Crookston was areas that typically weren't fished above the dam now held good numbers of fish. Took a bit to get used to.

The rock/riffle dam also affected the current flow over the dam and really changed the bottom structure of the river. Holes that were present were filled in with sediment. Sand bars popped up in new areas. The eddie currents changed.

During the construction period, fishing was very poor IMO. The fish moved elsewhere until the commotion settled down.

My guess is the good fishing will return, but it might change a little with the change to the river. During high water events, fish can move easily over these structures where they couldn't with a lowhead.

Additionally, channel cat fishing during these cold water periods can be very difficult. They are not aggressive at all. You may get lots of taps and bites but connecting with a solid hookset can be tough. Your success (or lack thereof) may or may not be construction related but rather seasonal and water temp related.

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Is it possible the construction isn't complete and there's more work to be done? I'm asking as I'm not familiar with this area.

For the record, low level, aka drowing dams, are absolutely horrible for the ecology of a river, not to mention the numbers of people who have been killed in them. Low level dams stop natural movement of fish up stream, and the create huge silt back-ups up stream. While the downstream area of a low level dam may be good fishing, on a temp basis, the long term effects of these types of dams are not good.

The rock/riffle dams allow sediment to flow, and fish to move upstream, just as mother nature has intended. I agree that the downstream area of a rock/riffle dam probably doesn't hold catfish like a low level dam would, but what would you rather have, a healthy river or one good fishing spot? Once a low level dam is removed and a rock/riffle dam is installed, mother nature starts healing herself. This is not an immediate process and it may take a few years to heal the many years of damage the low level dam created.

To back up Hanson's post, a poor bite may have a lot to do with time of year, weather, bait, blah, blah, blah also.

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The construction is complete. They may move a boulder here and there to change some of the flow, but it is essentially complete. The lake behind the dam was drawn down to allow for the construction and is still empty for the most part. It will have to fill up before any water runs over the new dam.

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