How to Use

Open the Fishes of Minnesota Mapper

Quick overview of the tab interface

See also: Detailed instructions (below)

Filters tab

Allows you to query and view the fish distribution data records based on various criteria.

  • Use drop-down lists to filter (query) the data.
  • Choose tabular records to see a table view of records matching your criteria
    • Sort data by clicking on any underlined column heading in the table
    • Jump to a spatial location on the Map by clicking on a UTM x,y pair in the table
    • NOTE: There is a known issue when using Internet Explorer to interact between Tabular Results and the Map Display (see Troubleshooting below)
      • Scroll to the table page bottom to choose the first, next or last pages; jump to a specified page (bottom right)
    • Download data as:
      • Table (.csv, open in Excel or save to disk)
      • Shapefile (.shp, save to disk for use in GIS software)
      • Species list (.csv, open in Excel or save to disk)

Map tab

Displays the fish occurrences data according to your Filter criteria; the Map automatically refreshes with Filter criteria changes and turns layers on/off.

  • Turn on layers of interest.
    • Note: The Fish data: Occurrences layer must be turned on to see species distributions. The maximum number of fish records displayed in the map window is 100,000. Use filters to reduce the number of forms. If records still exceed 100,000, zoom into the Map to display a portion of the records.
  • Use Map Icons to pan and zoom around the Map. Click the Zoom to Full Extent icon to return to a statewide extent.
  • Use the Identify Tool to draw a box around one or more fish occurrence points to access the associated tabular records.
  • Enable Quick Info (click on quick Info disabled) and hover over a location with the Identify Tool to get information about visible background layers.
    • Layers of interest must be turned on; you may need to zoom in to identify a lake or stream.
    • Note that Quick Info does not work on fish occurrence point features (because there are often many stacked points at one location).
  • Search for a Place by type; zoom to place
    • Search for a city, lake, stream, USGS map name, public land
    • Click on the result to zoom to that place on the Map
  • Download Image (generates an image of the map display window without title or legend)
    • Choose Download Image; right-click on the image, Save Image/Picture As .png or .bmp
    • You can insert the image into a document, slideshow, etc.
  • Print Map (generates a map of the display window with the title, legend, SQL filter query, locator map, and scale bar)


  • File: Print to a specified printer or Microsoft XPS Document Writer; open.XPS in Adobe Acrobat Reader  OR
  • Right-click on the image, Save the Image/Picture As .png or .bmp

Help Tab

Access How to Use the Fishes of MN Mapper, Map Icon guide, Frequently-Asked Questions (FAQs), related website links (at the bottom of FAQs), GIS metadata, and Data Sources and Dates.


  • You can work back and forth between the Map and Filters tabs; the Map will refresh with each change of criteria in the Filters tab. Note the number of records matching your criteria under Matching records:
  • A new table window will open when you choose tabular results from the Filters tab. After changing Filters, choose tabular results again to update/refresh the records to match the new query.
  • Use reset to set all filters back to the default (i.e., all criteria selected/all records shown).
  • Although you can't display all records at one time in the Map Window, you can view them in tabular results and download them all as a .csv, shapefile, or species list.
  • See Detailed instructions below to refine your queries and searches.

Detailed instructions

Quick links

Filters Tab:

Map Tab:


Filters tab

Filter (query) criteria

  • Choose from the following filters:
    • Species Name (common or scientific) OR Family Name (common or scientific)
    • Habitat Guild - Adult
    • Protection Status
    • Waterbody type (lake, stream or wetland)
    • Drainages (DNR Level 01,02,04 watersheds - same as HUC02,04,08)
    • Administrative Boundaries (state/province, county or fisheries office)
    • Other Criteria
      • Date Range
      • Gear type
      • Source (collector)
      • Voucher (true = vouchered/preserved specimen exists)
  • Note the number of matching records

Note: If all Filter Criteria are left blank, results will include all records from the database (N=350,000+). Note that you can view and download all tabular records, but you must filter to < 100,000 records to display fish occurrence points in the Map Window.

If the chosen criteria are mutually exclusive, no records will be returned. (e.g., selecting the Bemidji Area Fisheries Office in Winona County will return zero records because this combination does not exist)

Waterbody 'Name.'

Waterbody 'ID'

Note: The DNR Division of Waters (DOW)# consists of 8 digits, e.g., 01 0157 00

  • The first two digits represent the alphabetical county # (01-87)
  • The following four digits represent the lake # in that county (0001-9999)
  • The last two digits represent the sub-basin #. If there is only one basin, the sub-number will be 00. If there are multiple basins, the sub-numbers will be 01,02,03 etc.

Note: When searching for a lake or stream using a Filters search, only those waterbodies having fish data in the Fishes of Minnesota database will be returned as results in the Tabular Results. This differs from searching via the Place window in the FishMapper display, which returns all matching results from the GIS layers (whether fish data are present at these locations).

  • To search for a particular lake or stream, choose the correct Waterbody type and enter any part of the following:
    • Entering Sun for Waterbody Name will return all lakes having 'Sun' in its name (e.g., North Sunrise Pool, South Sunrise Pool, Sunfish, Sunken, Sunrise, Sunset, West Sunburg, Zumbra-Sunny)
    • Entering ^Sun for Waterbody Name will return all lakes starting with 'Sun' (e.g., Sunfish, Sunken, Sunrise, Sunset )
    • Example: Big Pine Lake in Aitkin County DOW# 01015700
    • Entering 01 for DOW# will return all lakes beginning with '01' (i.e., all lakes in Aitkin County)
    • Entering the first six digits will return records for all sub-basins if they exist. Example:
      • For Island Lake, entering 090060 will return records for both the upper north basin (09006001) and the lower south basin (09006002)
  • (use #-000-000-000-... format)
    • Example: Sullivan Creek M-009-001-002

    Note: In 1978, the DNR Section of Fisheries created a unique stream numbering system called the Kittle Number. The kittle # consists of a letter (H, I, M, S) followed by a string of digits in 3-digit spans (e.g., M-###-###-###)

    • The letter represents one of four major drainages:
      H-Hudson Bay (Red/Rainy River), I-Iowa River (Cedar/Des Moines/Missouri), M-Mississippi River, S-St. Lawrence (Great Lakes).
    • The DNR Level 01 Watersheds on the Map illustrate these four drainages (although they have slightly different names).
    • The main river systems are numbered within Minnesota, starting at their mouths and continuing upstream, giving increasing consecutive numbers to tributaries as they enter the mainstem river.
    • All tributary streams are numbered from their junction with the main river upstream; this number is added after a hyphen to the number of the stream to which it joins.
    • Example:  M represents the Mississippi River. M-001 is Winnebago Creek (the first named stream entering the Mississippi as you head upstream from the Minnesota border (considered to be the "mouth" within Minnesota). M-50 is the St. Croix River (i.e., the 50th tributary to the Mississippi River upstream from the mouth). M-50-46 is the Kettle River (the 46th tributary to the St. Croix), the 50th tributary to the Mississippi River, etc.
    • See pages 20-21 and 234-241 in the MN DNR Fisheries Stream Survey Manual.
    • Entering M-009 for ID will return the Root River (M-009) and all streams having Kittle #'s beginning with M-009 (i.e., all tributaries to the Root River)
    • To restrict your search to the Root River (M-009) only, enter ^Root River under Waterbody Name.
  • To clear the Filter Criteria and start over, choose reset
  • If you have entered criteria that return 0 matching records, select reset before choosing new criteria

To view records in tabular results

  • After Filter criteria are chosen, choose tabular results; a new browser window will open showing the tabular records matching your filter criteria.
  • To sort by a particular field, click on any underlined Column heading
  • To scroll through records, use the 'first, prev, next, last' links at the bottom of the table; to go to a specific page, use 'jump to page' (at the bottom of the table, lower right)
  • To modify your results, go back to the Filters Tab and use reset to undo all criteria settings, then select new filter criteria; choose tabular results again to update results in the table window

To download data from tabular results

  • To download the data records that match your Filter criteria, choose (in the Tabular Results window): Download as:
    • (NOTE: Downloads can take a while if the number of records is large)
    • table (.csv,comma-delimited text) - Open in Excel (default) and then save the .xlsx spreadsheet or Save as .csv to open in Microsoft Word or any text editor
    • shapefile (.zip) - Save to open in GIS software such as ESRI ArcMap
    • species list (.csv,comma-delimited text) - Open in Excel (default) and then save the .xlsx spreadsheet or Save as .csv to open in Microsoft Word or any text editor

Tip: To generate a species list for a specific lake or stream, search for and zoom into the waterbody in the FishMapper display, and use the Identify tool to select the dots associated with that lake or stream (draw a box around the desired points), and then download the species list under Tabular Results.

Map tab

(See also: Map icons)

To display fish occurrences in the map window

  • After choosing the Filter criteria, open the Map tab and turn on the GIS data layers you would like to display.
    • The Fish Occurrences, Streams, Lakes and DNR Level 01 Watersheds are displayed by default.
  • The map window displays the fish distribution data according to your Filter criteria (be sure that the Fish: Occurrences layer is checked ON)
    • The Map will automatically refresh with changes in Filter criteria or when layers are checked/unchecked.
  • Every circular 'point symbol' refers to a record in the Fishes of Minnesota database that matches the criteria specified in the Filter tab.
    • Each record holds information about the catch of a particular species (maybe one or more fish) from a specific survey sampling event.
  • Points are symbolized according to whether vouchered specimens exist for the record (red symbol) or not (white symbol). Vouchers refer to specimens that have been preserved, frozen or otherwise documented and are usually stored in museum collections.
  • For lakes, all point locations having Source = DNR Fisheries Lake Survey are displayed at the lake center; for streams and other sourced lakes, actual sampling locations are used if known.

    Mapping of protected species: As of 5/29/15, the locations of protected species are removed from or obscured within the map display, although they can still be queried under the FILTER tab and will appear in the Tabular Results window. See Fishes of MN Mapper: Species Protection Status for more information.

    • Note that multiple points may be stacked on top of one another, indicating that multiple records occur at that location (especially for lakes)
    • Use the Identify Tool to draw a box around one or more point symbols on the Map; this will open the Tabular Results to show the records associated with the point locations
  • Use the Zoom in and Zoom out tools to zoom into/out of an area of interest
  • Use the Zoom to full extent icon to zoom to the statewide extent

To use quick Info

  • Click on quick Info disabled to change it to enable
  • Zoom in and hold the cursor over any geographic feature to get the name of that feature
    • Quick Info is available for the following layers: Lake/River, Province, Major Watershed, Minor Watershed, Dam, County, DNR Region, DNR Fisheries Areas
    • Quick Info does not work on the Fish Occurrences points
    • Layers must be checked ON to display their Quick Info attributes
  • Click on quick Info enabled to change it to disabled

To find a specific place in the map window

In the Place box above the map display:

  • Choose a place 'Type': e.g., lake [choose from city, lake, stream, USGS map name, public land]
  • Enter any part of a place "Name" and click 'go': e.g., Rat
  • Results will include all place names of the chosen type having the entered text as part or all of the name

Example: The above query returns a list including these lakes: Big Rat, Crato, Marathon, McGrath, Muskrat, and Rattle...

  • To restrict the results to lake names starting with 'Rat,' enter ^Rat
  • Click on one of the place names in the results pop-up window to zoom into that location
  • To close the Results, click the 'X' in the upper right corner of the pop-up window

To download a map image

  • This option generates an image (.png format) of the current map display, suitable for inserting into a Word document or slideshow.
  • The image contains no title or legend, just the features in the display window.
    • Choose download map; Right-click on an image, Save Image/Picture As .png

To print the Map or save it as an.XPS or. PDF document

  • This option generates a color map of the current display, including title, legend, SQL query, locator map and scale bar; the user cannot edit the settings on this Map
  • The Map can be sent directly to a printer or saved as a PDF document for distribution
    • Choose a print map:
      • Using File: Print, send the Map to a printer or to Microsoft XPS Document Writer (if available)
      • Open.XPS document in Adobe Acrobat Reader


GIS Metadata

Complete GIS metadata, including field descriptions and domains, is available at FOM Metadata.


The Fishes of Minnesota Mapper has been tested in current versions of Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox and Google Chrome browsers.  Known issues:

About this data

The Fishes of Minnesota Mapper displays information on fish species stored within the MN DNR Fishes of Minnesota database. Records contain information gathered by both DNR and non-DNR agencies. Although this database is considered the complete collection of fish species distribution in Minnesota, additional data may be held by other parties not included. Data from DNR Fisheries Lake Surveys and MPCA stream surveys will be updated at the end of each survey season (late fall/winter). Data from other sources and more recent survey dates will be added to Fishes of Minnesota Mapper as it becomes available.

SeeFishes of Minnesota Mapper: Data Sources and dates

Contact Information

For questions regarding Fishes of Minnesota Mapper data or to report problems with this web application, please get in touch with [email protected]

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