Minnesota River Virtual Tour - Franklin


Stop 6 - Franklin (River Mile 193)
Big Catfish at Catfish Derby Days Photo: Ron Bolduan Catfish Derby Days Photo: Minnesota Department of Tourism City of Franklin entrance sign Emerald Shiners Photo: USGS
On the last weekend of July, the tiny river town of Franklin hosts an annual Catfish Derby. Contestants bring their catches in, sloshing in old clawfoot bathtubs, even flopping around in a bed of straw in the back of a pickup. After the fish are entered in the derby, most of the cats are released, seemingly none the worse for the wear, to again prowl the deep, dark holes of the Minnesota River.
Catfish Derby Days
Meandering downstream from Redwood Falls, you might catch the town of Franklin celebrating the catfishthe predominant species sought by most river fishermen. Along with the fishing contest, the town throws a huge party complete with a parade, pageant, and food and beers stands. River fishermen routinely catch 30-pound catfish, occasionally a 50-pounder, and then there is the, perhaps legendary,
153-pound historic state record. Besides catfish, the coveted walleye is frequently caught in the 14-pound range throughout the river.

Actually, a great variety of fish live in the Minnesota River. Other species include sheephead, northern pike, small mouth bass, and bullheads, among many others. A recent Department of Natural Resources fish survey found 70 fish species representing 18 families in the Minnesota River. Scientists consider the Minnesota River one of the most naturally productive fisheries in the state. However, fishermen need to take heed of the Minnesota Department of Health Fish Consumption Advisories. River fish could contain mercury and PCBs that can be harmful to human health. The advisories provide site-specific consumption advice that suggests limiting certain types and sizes of fish.

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