Doug Smith

Even if the fish aren’t biting, the ducks aren’t flying and the pheasants aren’t flushing, Doug Smith says any day spent outdoors is a good day. A Minnesota native, he’s been covering the outdoors for the Star Tribune since 1995. He considers walleyes fried over a campfire to be gourmet cuisine.

Iowa officials: Sunfish found in Mississippi River likely a rare one

Posted by: Doug Smith Updated: July 22, 2014 - 5:16 PM

Officials in Iowa recently found a fish species in the Mississippi River that possibly hasn't been seen there in more than 80 years.

State and national scientists are working to identify a fish, believed to be a longear sunfish.

Iowa Department of Natural Resources fisheries staff collecting fish for a fishing clinic in early July captured the fish.

“If this proves to be a longear sunfish it will be the first time since 1932 the species has been positively identified in Iowa,” said DNR fisheries technician Adam Thiese, who collected the fish.

 “How it got here and where it came from remains to be determined. For those that work in the fisheries field, both state and nationally, anytime an uncommon species can be documented, it’s an exciting discovery.”

Leading national ichthyologists believe it is a longear sunfish. A fin clip has been collected to verify. Once listed as common in bayous around Muscatine, they have been extirpated from the state for more than eight decades.

Longear sunfish are present in some Minnesota lakes.

Officials don't know how the fish got there, but one theory is it may have been the result of flooding. The fish was from a pond that had been inundated with floodwater from the Mississippi.

Historically, the longear sunfish was primarily found in backwaters, many of which no longer exist.

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