A portion of the St. Croix River forms part of the state boundary between Minnesota and Wisconsin. The remainder of the St. Croix River and the entire Namekagon River are in Wisconsin. Regulations vary depending on where you fish and what state your fishing license is issued from. It is important to study a map of the area and to know which regulations apply to the area you are fishing. The Saint Croix National Scenic Riverway includes the St Croix River and a major tributary, the Namekagon. Within the St. Croix watershed are numerous lakes, rivers and streams, most of which include fine fishing.
Generally, fish are divided into two categories, warm water and cold water species. Cold water habitat is critical for the support of trout. Warmer water will support those species that cannot thrive in colder water.
The Namekagon River upstream from Hayward is a cold water habitat and has received national recognition for it’s quality fishing. Naturally reproducing brown and brook trout are plentiful. The section from Hayward down river to its confluence with the St Croix is a transition zone. Here trout become fewer and smallmouth bass begin to dominate, while walleyes and northern pike begin to increase in numbers.
The St Croix River is a warm water habitat. The stretch from Danbury down stream to St Croix Falls is recognized as one of the finest smallmouth bass fisheries in the country. The section from Taylors Falls to Stillwater is truly a river filled with warm water species; bass, walleyes, saugers, northern pike, muskellunge, catfish, suckers, sturgeon, carp and pan fish abound. The river from Stillwater to the Mississippi has slowed its flow and is now called Lake St Croix. Located close to the Twin Cities, this section is popular for watercraft sports; yet fishing remains productive.
Minnesota and Wisconsin Boundary Waters
Boundary waters of the St. Croix River extend upriver from the confluence of the Mississippi River in Prescott, Wisconsin, to an area approximately 2.5 miles downstream from the confluence of the Namekagon River. Anglers may fish from either shoreline in the boundary waters with a license from either state. An area downstream of the hydroelectric dam at Taylors Falls – St. Croix Falls is closed to fishing and is identified by signs and fences.
Bait and Lines in Boundary Waters
Two lines with a single lure or bait on each are permitted. If fishing with one line you may use two baits. Live crayfish may not be used for bait on the St. Croix or Namekagon.
The entire Namekagon River and the St. Croix River, from Gordon Dam to an area approximately 2.5 miles downstream from the confluence of the Namekagon River, are
Wisconsin inland waters.
The St. Croix River is divided into northern (N) and southern (S) zones regarding open seasons for bass in boundary waters. Northern bass zone waters are upstream from the
hydroelectric dam in Taylors Falls – St. Croix Falls. The entire Namekagon River is located in the northern bass zone.
The St Croix River is for over 100 miles the boundary between Minnesota and Wisconsin. The river contains all the species of fish common to the upper Mississippi drainage. The state size records for several of these species are listed below. Note that four of the Minnesota records are from the St Croix and one from a tributary, the Kettle and one Wisconsin record is from a tributary, the Yellow.
Smallmouth——–8lbs- 0oz———- 9 lbs-1oz
White—————4lbs- 0oz SCR—–4 lbs-6oz
Channel———– 38lbs-0oz———- 44lbs-0oz
EEL, American—– 6lbs-9oz SCR —
GAR, Longnose– 16lbs-12oz St Croix R —
MUSKELLUNGE –54lbs- 0oz——– 69lbs-11oz
N PIKE————-45lbs-12oz——- 38lbs -0oz
SAUGER ————6lbs- 3oz———-5lbs-13oz
STURGEON ——94lbs-4oz ——170lbs-10oz
Lake, Kettle R Yellow R
Fish Consumption Guidelines
Most fish are healthy to eat and are an excellent source of protein. However, some fish could contain serious contaminants such as mercury and PCBs that can harm human health especially in children and fetuses. Both Minnesota and Wisconsin have fish advisories for the St. Croix and Namekagon rivers. Consult these advisories for more information.
Minnesota Hwy 95 and Wisconsin Hwy 35 parallel the lower stretches. Wisconsin Hwy 63 the upper stretches. Crossings at I-94, Hwy 8, Hwy 70,and Hwy 77/48.