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Unusual Discovery in Southwest Minnesota Lake

Minnesota DNR photo
Minnesota DNR photo

Undated (KROC AM News) –  Minnesota DNR fisheries workers conducting a survey on Cottonwood Lake a few weeks ago snagged something unusual – a three foot long American eel.

They spawn in the northern Atlantic Ocean but normally spend their lives in freshwater.

It’s speculated this eel made its way to the Gulf of Mexico, up the Mississippi River, then up the Minnesota River and somehow, travelled another 30 miles to the lake where it was found, which is in southwest Minnesota in the Marshall area.

“It’s not unheard of to find an American eel in the Mississippi or Minnesota River,” said DNR southern region fisheries manager Jack Lauer. “The interesting aspect to this particular eel is that it was caught in a lake a good distance from the river. It was well in excess of 30 river miles upstream from the confluence of the Yellow Medicine and Minnesota rivers.”

This particular eel was a first for Spicer area assistant fisheries supervisor Brad Carlson.

“I’ve been conducting surveys since 1992 and have never seen an eel during a survey,” Carlson said. “At first I thought it was a bowfin because of the wavy dorsal fin. But, I quickly realized that it was an American eel. It was a surprise because you don’t expect to find them in a shallow lake like Cottonwood – especially one so far from the Mississippi River.”

Carlson said he released the eel back in to Cottonwood Lake.

The DNR says this is only the second American eel found in a Minnesota lake during a  fisheries survey in the past 25 years. The other one was found in Spring Lake, which has a direct connection to the Mississippi River.

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