Minnesota Department of Natural Resource fisheries specialists were on the Cannon River last week conducting a periodic population assessment of types and numbers of fish in the river.
"I was really impressed with the diversity, number and size of the fish we were seeing," said Randy Binder of the DNR's Lake City office.
Binder and co-worker Dan Spence floated the river on Tuesday and Friday in a small boat with equipment that creates a current that attracts and then shocks and stuns fish. A quick spin of the boat and the shocker equipment in a few 100 square foot areas easily popped 20-40 fish to the surface in a quick demo of the boat near Hannah's Bend last week.
Some are stunned only momentarily before they splash and swim away, others remain floating for a few minutes before they revive. The DNR workers take a count, tagging or marking some fish to see if they get repeats.
Working primarily the Cannon River between Pine Creek and Trout Brook last week, Binder was especially impressed with the number of smallmouth bass. "We saw a pretty darn good number of 17 to 19 inch smallmouths; quite a few 12 to 14 inchers," said Binder.
Binder says they saw a decent number of walleyes, a few in the 20 to 30 inch slot, but says they tend to hang deeper in the pools in the river and sometimes aren't as susceptible to the electrical shock as other species.
Along the whole length, they were pleased to see good numbers of brown and brook trout, with some browns up to 20 inches.
Decent numbers of channel catfish were also seen. Binder, who used to live near Welch, says some of the best eating channel cats he's ever had came out of the Cannon.
The river survey also showed plenty of rough fish like suckers, redhorse, carp and sheepshead. Noticeable by their very few numbers were panfish like crappies or bluegills.