News release: Minnesota DNR focuses on lesser-known native fish at the State Fair fish pond

August 24, 2023

Agency also asking for public opinion in online questionnaire 

Meandering through the Minnesota State Fair for many visitors means stopping by the fish pond at the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources building and grounds, where visitors can see about 40 fish species up close.

This year, lesser-known fish are getting some special attention by the Minnesota DNR and others who are increasingly interested in these sometimes misunderstood fish — species that might get a “what’s that?” rather than high fives when caught by anglers.

“Here’s a challenge for any visitor at the fish pond or watching the live stream online: How many fish species can you name?” said Shannon Fisher, fisheries monitoring and regulations manager. “Learning more about all these fish is a great first step toward understanding their value and participating in how they are managed in the future.”

These fish, many of which are commonly called rough fish, include buffalo, bowfin (also known as dogfish), carpsuckers, freshwater drum (also known as sheepshead), gar, goldeye, mooneye, quillback, and several species of redhorses and suckers. These species are garnering renewed appreciation for the important role they play in aquatic ecosystems and the health of rivers and lakes.

“We’re shining some light on these fish and we have a questionnaire available online for people to let us know more about how they want these species managed in the future,” Fisher said. “We will have Fish and Wildlife staff at the fish pond daily to answer questions and talk to folks about these fish, so please bring your questions.”

In an online Minnesota DNR questionnaire, participants can share their thoughts on the importance of these species, how they should be managed and levels of protection the Minnesota DNR should be implementing. The online questionnaire is available on the Engage with DNR page through Friday, Sept. 15.

Minnesota DNR research is underway to track the populations of these species, with initial results expected in the latter part of 2024. Additionally, the Minnesota DNR formed a new work group with members of conservation organizations, members of the bowfishing community and interested stakeholders to identify conservation strategies for other lesser-known native fish.

For those who aren’t planning to be at the fair, the Minnesota DNR live stream of the fish pond is available online.

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