Minnesota on my mind

I was walking past the lakes yesterday morning looking at the patches of ice . I started to think … where are all the fish?

These lakes along the Nene valley are full of fish and through the summer we have spent a lot of time being amazed by the numbers and variety. We have seen fully grown and young pike. Had encounters with anglers with huge carp . These lakes have carp of up to 45lb

This small amount of ice made me think about the amazing lakes in Minnesota. We lived there for 18 months and experienced two winters. The ice on the lakes is incredible. They drive trucks onto it !. They cut holes in it to go ice fishing. The fish of choice is Walleye.

Walleye is a member of the Perch family. It has a large mouth with sharp teeth.They have low light vision , they are named after their pearlescent eyes. It hunts its prey at night, eating small fish and invertebrates.These fish can be 0.75-0.90M in length and can weigh 4.5/9kg. They live for about 10’years, spawning in spring/summer in gravel bed rivers.

The Walleye is native to most of Minnesota and is a popular game fish and a food fish. It occupies 2 million acres of lakes , warm water streams totalling 3000 miles !

Walleye is the state fish of Minnesota.

Ice fishing is certainly a very popular pass time in this amazing state.

Minnesota is known as the land of 10,000 lakes there are 11,842 . If all the lake basins over 2.5 acres were counted there would be 21,871 !!

These lakes were formed by the glaciers that until 12,000 years ago covered the state. They gouged out the lake basins.

Back to the question where are all the fish?

Obviously they are still there in the lake, they have gone to the bottom of the lake. Most fish slow down in the winter months, their heart rate slows therefore they need less food and oxygen.The fish often gather together to stay warmer at the bottom of the lake.

In fresh water lakes a temperature inversion takes place as autumn turns to winter. Warm water sinks, at 4 degrees Celsius water is denser and sinks, colder water moves to the surface and ice forms .

In Minnesota we also loved to watch the muskrats who would sit on top of the ice , we spent a lot of time watching them at Lake Elmo.

All this thinking about fish , lakes and glaciation brought me back to my everyday lake at Rushden, part of a system of lakes along the Nene valley, a large area which is very important for wildlife and designated SSSIs.

These lakes along the valley have been created by the extraction of gravel and sand. The river Nene flows along a broad valley from Northampton. This valley was formed by enormous quantities of water from melting ice during the ice age towards the east coast.

These gravel pit lakes contain carp 30-45 lb in weight. Reading more about fish and gravel pit lakes I was amazed to read about one near Leighton Buzzard called Tidenfoot Pit. This is an older pit next to the Grand Union Canal. It has a range of depths but goes down to 20ft. It contains up to 40lb carp and amazingly catfish weighing 80 lb measuring 6ft. These sound more like monsters of the deep.

A great connection between Minnesota and Rushden, fish, glaciation and lakes!

Minnesota – always somewhere on my mind .


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