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Learn about safe water levels for kayak fishing on the Mississippi River near Clearwater, MN

Mississippi River Smallmouth Bass Kayak Fishing

Every spring brings different water level conditions on the river. Knowing when it’s safe to get your kayak on the river is important. Clear Waters Outfitting has the experts and years of experience to know when it’s safe for kayak anglers to venture out and chase smallmouth. Dan Meer owns Clear Waters Outfitting and has been fishing the area for decades. He shared important information for safely planning a river kayak fishing trip.

What kayak anglers need to know regarding water levels and fishing the Mississippi River

Kayak fishing a river requires a mixture of fishing and boat control ability. When the river is high, and flowing fast, it can be much more difficult (and dangerous) for people to fish. You need to pay more attention to water flow and obstacles while your fishing. Our criteria to start operating shuttles early in the season is based on the ability for people to float and paddle, but it can still be difficult and dangerous to fish the river at higher levels even after we start shuttles.

Know what safe water levels are, we monitor at the St Cloud Dam

USGS Current Conditions for USGS 05270700 MISSISSIPPI RIVER AT ST. CLOUD, MN

We monitor the volume of water rather than feet. As of this article date (May 25, 2022), it is 22,700 cfs. About 9 days ago, it crested at about 33,200 cfs. We start doing trips when the water is warm enough and it gets to about the 20,000 cfs mark. This water level is not appropriate for all users, you should be an experienced river kayak angler and a  strong swimmer. No small children or pets allowed at the higher levels.

We like to use 10,000 cfs as a mark for when the fishing gets easier, and it is safer for small children and pets.

We’ve had some experienced kayak anglers (myself included) fish the river when it was higher than that, but you have to be very careful and look for specific areas of the river to fish. If you want to fish the river when it’s between 10,000 – 20,000 cfs, contact Clear Waters Outfitters to go over the concerns and challenges that go along with that.

Modern weather patterns seem to be more random than they used to be. What really affects the river levels is when we get storms that dump a lot of water in a short period of time. In the past, we usually see these high river levels early in the season, but in recent years we’ve had some cases where the river got to flood stage with large storms hitting as late as the end of June. We keep our fingers crossed each year that highest water occurs early in the season and subsides for the rest of the season.

Tight lines and MONSTER Smallie wishes!
Dan Meer, Owner, Clear Waters Outfitting

Clear Waters Outfitting Company

About Clear Waters Outfitting

Minnesota’s Premier Mississippi River Outfitter and kayak fishing shop. Whether it’s spending the day on the water with family and friends, fishing for monster smallies, tenting overnight on the banks of the Mississippi, or looking to reconnect with nature, we have the “Perfect Day” in store for you! Complete kayak fishing outfitting services.

  • River fishing trips
  • Paddling classes
  • Fishing kayak rentals
  • Kayak Repairs
  • Fishing kayak sales

Clear Waters Outfitting runs a kayak bass fishing tournament. Learn about the BronzeBack Classic Kayak Bass Fishing Tournament.

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