Flooding not a disaster for St. Louis River estuary

  • Article by: DOUG SMITH , Star Tribune
  • Updated: June 26, 2012 - 9:45 PM

The St. Louis River estuary in Duluth remains clouded with red silt, a fresh reminder of last week's flooding.

But what impact will all that water -- and the tons of clay and sand still suspended in it -- have on the walleyes, sturgeon, muskies and other fish there?

Possibly not much, said John Lindgren, senior fisheries specialist for the Department of Natural Resources in Duluth. He doesn't believe the estuary ecosystem has been permanently damaged.

"Heavy sediment events in this estuary are not uncommon, because of the clay soils," he said. "Certainly this is as dramatic as I've ever seen it, but fish are used to it. I think the adult fish are fine."

The eggs from late spawners such as bluegills, crappies and bass could be buried in silt and die, he said. But walleyes that hatched earlier this spring likely were big enough to survive the onslaught of water, silt and debris.

DNR biologists probably won't know the storm's true impact until fish populations are sampled this fall. But Lindgren acknowledged that the flood broke new ground.

"It's mind-boggling the amount of mud," he said. Normally such sediment settles out within a week or so, but this might last longer. The DNR will watch to see if fish die from the event, though Lindgren doubts that will happen.

And the flood brought some benefits: Many trees and limbs were washed down the river.

"There's lots of new woody debris that has been deposited in shallow areas," Lindgren said. "It's good cover. That's a positive for the estuary."

But an unanswered question is whether the floodwaters damaged the sturgeon habitat restoration work that occurred in the St. Louis in 2009, part of a continuing effort to restore sturgeon there.

About 1,500 tons of rock were placed below the Fond du Lac Dam in a $150,000 project to recreate a spawning area for sturgeon (and walleyes). It was a success; officials found spawning sturgeon there last year.

"We have no idea of what that area will look like [when water recedes]," Lindgren said.

The sturgeon likely survived the onslaught, he said.

Meanwhile, few anglers are out on the river or St. Louis Bay because of the silt. Lindgren said he expects fish will be dormant until the sediment settles. Out on Lake Superior, charter boats have shifted farther up the North Shore to escape the cloud of sediment.

"People are fishing," said Russ Francisco of Marine General in Duluth. "There's a lot of wood in the water. You just have to be careful, and don't go out after dark.''

Doug Smith • dsmith@startribune.com Twitter: @dougsmithstrib

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions

Click here to send us your hunting or fishing photos – and to see what others are showing off from around the region.

ADVERTISEMENT

Houston 10 2nd Qtr 13:29
Pittsburgh 0
San Diego 10/23/14 7:25 PM
Denver
Detroit 10/26/14 8:30 AM
Atlanta
Buffalo 10/26/14 12:00 PM
NY Jets
St. Louis 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Kansas City
Houston 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Tennessee
Minnesota 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Tampa Bay
Seattle 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Carolina
Baltimore 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Cincinnati
Miami 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Jacksonville
Chicago 10/26/14 12:00 PM
New England
Philadelphia 10/26/14 3:05 PM
Arizona
Oakland 10/26/14 3:25 PM
Cleveland
Indianapolis 10/26/14 3:25 PM
Pittsburgh
Green Bay 10/26/14 7:30 PM
New Orleans
Chicago 94 4th Qtr 1:53
Cleveland 101
New Orleans 81 4th Qtr 3:30
Washington 68
Milwaukee 64 3rd Qtr 9:01
New York 68
Philadelphia 50 3rd Qtr 8:16
Brooklyn 56
Charlotte 66 3rd Qtr 3:26
Atlanta 72
Sacramento 31 2nd Qtr 12:00
San Antonio 27
Memphis 27 1st Qtr 0:16
Dallas 27
Tampa Bay 8:30 PM
Edmonton
Arkansas State 10/21/14 7:00 PM
Louisiana
Connecticut 10/23/14 6:00 PM
(18) East Carolina
Miami-Florida 10/23/14 7:00 PM
Virginia Tech
So Florida 10/24/14 6:00 PM
Cincinnati
Troy 10/24/14 6:30 PM
South Alabama
BYU 10/24/14 8:00 PM
Boise State
(6) Oregon 10/24/14 9:00 PM
California
North Texas 10/25/14 11:00 AM
Rice
UAB 10/25/14 11:00 AM
Arkansas
Rutgers 10/25/14 11:00 AM
(16) Nebraska
Maryland 10/25/14 11:00 AM
Wisconsin
Texas 10/25/14 11:00 AM
(11) Kansas State
Minnesota 10/25/14 11:00 AM
Illinois
Memphis 10/25/14 11:00 AM
SMU
North Carolina 10/25/14 11:30 AM
Virginia
San Jose St 10/25/14 12:00 PM
Navy
Northern Ill 10/25/14 12:00 PM
Eastern Mich
(25) UCLA 10/25/14 1:00 PM
Colorado
Akron 10/25/14 1:00 PM
Ball State
Massachusetts 10/25/14 1:00 PM
Toledo
Ohio U 10/25/14 1:00 PM
Western Mich
Ga Southern 10/25/14 1:00 PM
Georgia State
Kent State 10/25/14 1:30 PM
Miami-Ohio
Oregon State 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Stanford
Fla Atlantic 10/25/14 2:30 PM
(23) Marshall
Louisiana Tech 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Southern Miss
(1) Miss State 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Kentucky
Georgia Tech 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Pittsburgh
(22) West Virginia 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Oklahoma State
Texas Tech 10/25/14 2:30 PM
(10) TCU
Michigan 10/25/14 2:30 PM
(8) Michigan State
Boston College 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Wake Forest
Central Mich 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Buffalo
Vanderbilt 10/25/14 3:00 PM
Missouri
Old Dominion 10/25/14 3:00 PM
Western Ky
UNLV 10/25/14 3:00 PM
Utah State
Temple 10/25/14 4:00 PM
UCF
(15) Arizona 10/25/14 5:00 PM
Washington St
Texas-El Paso 10/25/14 6:00 PM
TX-San Antonio
Wyoming 10/25/14 6:00 PM
Colorado State
Syracuse 10/25/14 6:00 PM
(21) Clemson
Texas State 10/25/14 6:00 PM
ULM
(3) Ole Miss 10/25/14 6:15 PM
(24) LSU
(4) Alabama 10/25/14 6:30 PM
Tennessee
So Carolina 10/25/14 6:30 PM
(5) Auburn
(13) Ohio State 10/25/14 7:00 PM
Penn State
(20) USC 10/25/14 9:00 PM
(19) Utah
(14) Arizona State 10/25/14 9:45 PM
Washington
Nevada 10/25/14 10:59 PM
Hawaii
Ottawa 6 FINAL
Hamilton 16
Montreal 20 FINAL
Toronto 12
Calgary 33 FINAL
Winnipeg 23
Edmonton 24 FINAL
Saskatchewan 19
Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

question of the day

Poll: Should the lake where the albino muskie was caught remain a mystery?

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close