To celebrate the history-making return of great fishing in Granite Falls, the Chamber of Commerce is sponsoring a unique contest, said Nicole Zempel, director. Beginning with the Minnesota fishing opener on May 11, the first person to catch a flathead catfish in the stretch of the Minnesota River from Memorial Park to the dam in downtown Granite Falls will be awarded a prize befitting the importance of this occasion.
A hand-carved wood sculpture by award-winning artist Curt Soine of Granite Falls will be presented to the successful angler. Soine is one of western Minnesota’s most celebrated artists for his wood-sculptured fish decoys, waterfowl and other wildlife.
“We want to let people know that one of Minnesota’s best fishing destinations is now the scenic, and easy-to-access portion of the Minnesota River in Granite Falls,’’ said Zempel.
The removal of the Minnesota Falls dam about three miles downstream of Granite Falls has re-opened this section of river to the natural migration of fish. For over a century, the Minnesota dam served as a substantial disruption to the annual migrations of flathead catfish, walleye, sauger, paddlefish, shovelnose and lake sturgeon to this stretch of river.
The Minnesota River is famous for its trophy, flathead catfish population. But for more than a century flathead catfish have not been found above the Minnesota Falls dam.
Now, fisheries biologists are confident that these and other game fish will be drawn upstream to the Granite Falls area. There is an approximate, 17-feet gradient change in the river from Granite Falls to the Minnesota Falls rapids, creating riffles and other desirable fish habitat.
It’s also a great section of river to paddle, said Zempel.
To participate in the contest, all that is necessary is to document the catching of the first flathead catfish. Mark down the time and date, and take a picture of yourself with the flathead catfish showing a recognizable portion of the river in the Granite Falls area and have a witness available to confirm the accomplishment.
The fish can be safely returned to the water.
Bring or email the photograph and information to the Granite Falls Chamber of Commerce office in downtown Granite Falls. firstname.lastname@example.org
Remember: The award goes for the catching of a flathead catfish, not a channel catfish. Flathead catfish are the top predators in the river system.