On Minnesota’s North Shore of Lake Superior the Knife River system is the crown jewel of migratory trout streams. The Knife system contains over 70 miles of stream accessible to migratory trout from Lake Superior; this is 40% of Minnesota’s stream habitat available to migratory fish. All other North Shore streams have a barrier falls close to the lake that limit migratory fish habitat.
The middle and upper sections of the Knife system hold the prime spawning and rearing habitat for trout. Migrating fish on the Knife must pass two sets of falls in the lower river in order to access the fertile headwaters. The first falls, not far upstream from the mouth is the site of the MN DNR fish counting station where up bound adult and down bound young trout have been captured and counted since 1996.
The second falls two miles upstream was altered back in the 1970's and repaired with a concrete wier that deepened the jumping pool restoring migratory fish passage upstream. The wier worked well for thirty years until high water and ice took it out. The shallow pool remaining did not give fish enough depth to make the leap needed to pass. LSSA members who watch over and keep the river discovered the failure in 2005 (shown above by Seaquest) and a seven year long odyssey ensued to restore fish passage.
The Minnesota Legacy Act, through the Lessard-Sams Outdoor Heritage Fund provided LSSA with the ability to again repair the jumping pool and restore fish passage. During the summer of 2012, large boulders were pinned into the bedrock. Steelheads are no longer held back from their mission to reproduce in the best water the river system has to offer.