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Cottonwood River

May 26, 2013

On a whim, I decided last week on Tuesday to look up the Cottonwood River on the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources website since my family and I were heading to Lamberton, MN on Friday for my wife’s grandmother’s funeral.   My parents are also from this part of MN so I was well aware of the overall lay of the river, i.e., it is located in the heart of a vibrant agricultural region with threatened water quality and is a tributary of the Minnesota River.  What I didn’t know is were there any fish in it and if there were, where could you access the river.   According to my Minnesota Atlas and Gazetteer the Cottonwood contains: Walleye, Northern Pike, Smallmouth Bass, Catfish and panfish.  Furthermore, it showed that it flowed through a park in Springfield, MN, which is where we had rented a hotel for Thursday night.   Packing the van I decided at the last minute to give it a go and packed up my ultra-light spinning rod, a few lures, and my waders.

One of the culinary highlights along Highway 14 is Solar’s Real Food in Springfield, MN.  Having checked into the hotel we promptly headed for to Solar’s to nourish our tired and hungry children.  Discovered by my wife and kids a few years back, Solar’s is a family-owned restaurant, with excellent food, particularly their wraps.  I was somewhat skeptical on my first trip to Solar’s but the Chili Dogs, since removed from the menu, made me a believer.  If you are ever in the area, give it a shot and order a wrap.  I ordered the Gyros Wrap, which was very good, while my wife had the Pizza Wrap, which was even better.  My kids had chocolate shakes, which were creamy and delicious and burgers (also very good). Stuffed, we drove through downtown Springfield and found the bridge crossing the river and leading to the park.  Letting the kids out to run and play on the equipment, I grabbed my rod and headed for the river.

By no means am I am expert on river fishing but I know that bridge pilings provide current banks and this one had the added benefit of large boulders that had been placed along the bank to reduce erosion.  Casting my trusty blue, jointed Rapala, I had no idea what to expect.  Imagine my surprise when on my first cast I felt a faint strike as my lure approached the bank.  Setting the hook I realized it wasn’t large but a fish, a Rock Bass, nonetheless.photo

Even though it wasn’t a trophy, I was pleased (and surprised) to have caught anything.  I know from my limited trout fishing experience to watch and listen for rising fish. A few minutes later I heard a splash downstream to my right.  Casting in that direction, I felt a heavier strike after a few cranks and set the hook.  From a distance the fish looked to have an elongated body and I was thinking, catfish.  Nope, a smallmouth bass.

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It is either missing a portion of its dorsal fin, or it is genetically malformed, but you can see how far back its dorsal fin is positioned which gave it the elongated look.  After a few more casts, my daughter Katie decided that she wanted to catch a few fish so we made a few more casts and caught two more Rock Bass and one more smallmouth.

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I love the bright red eye on this smallmouth bass.  If you are ever in any of the towns along Highway 14 from Springfield to New Ulm, MN, I encourage you to give it a try.

– Hats

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