When it comes to fishing in Minnesota, there is a wide variety of common fish that anglers can now reel in such as walleye, trout, Northern pike, bass, lake sturgeon, and many more.

However, there is also a rare migratory fish that if caught, could be a bit shocking to anglers who are unaware that they are in Minnesota and the long journey that they are on.

Recently, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources posted a reminder that these fish are here and what anglers should do if they happen to catch one.

Ocean Fish Swimming In Minnesota Lakes

According to the DNR, the American eel is a unique, migratory fish and all American eels in Minnesota were born in the Atlantic Ocean.

The females of this species make an incredible journey swimming up the Mississippi River to its headwaters, while the males stay close to the streams along the Gulf of Mexico and Atlantic Coast.

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These fish are strictly nocturnal and they tend to stay close to deep riprap and snags near the shore within moderate-sized to large rivers and streams.

What Do American Eels Look Like?

The American Eel is described as having a long flexible and snake-like body that is dark brown to olive, with a cream or white belly. Its scales are small and inconspicuous and there are paired side fins behind the head. The low and long many-rayed dorsal fin begins about one-third the way down the back and is continuous with the caudal and anal fins.

The mouth has jaws with teeth, and the gill opening is a single small slit. The species is often confused with members of the lamprey family.

The largest American Eel reported from Minnesota waters was 1.05 meters (3.44 feet) in total length.

What Anglers Should Do If They Catch An American Eel

American eels are listed as a species of special concern in Minnesota and are extremely rare. Therefore, the Minnesota DNR says that if you catch one, you should handle the fish carefully and release it back into the water as soon as possible so it can complete its lengthy migration cycle.

While American Eels make their way to Minnesota from the Atlantic Ocean, Minnesota also has fish with origins in another Ocean.

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The rainbow trout or steelhead is an introduced exotic species that is native to the West Coast and some of the streams west of the Rocky Mountains. Rainbow trout have been introduced into many of Minnesota's streams and lakes, especially in the northern half of the state.

Long ago, a migratory strain that normally lives in the Pacific Ocean was introduced into Lake Superior and has become naturalized. They're called steelheads and they now begin and end their lives in streams and live in Lake Superior during their major growth period.

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Gallery Credit: Hannah Lang

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