Hennepin Canal Pre-Season Prowls

I am not much of an ice fisherman, so in the “off season”, I find other ways to scratch the fishing itch. For many years, that has involved writing on the blog but for various reasons this winter I ended up taking a two-month break from November to January. Upon resuming blogging the posts have still been few and far between compared to the first seven years of my own blog and many years of previous writing gigs. Regardless of whether I am posting or not, I spend a lot of time thinking about fishing.

The past several months found me engaging in a fair amount of prowling on the Hennepin Canal. Both on the internet and on the ground. Concerning the latter aspect, I racked up over forty miles walking at multiple locations between Colona and Mineral starting with a New Year’s Day hike. These walks were multi-purpose jaunts. For starters, it is always good to get some fresh air. The hikes also help me to get into better shape for this year’s strip mine hikes to commence shortly. And finally, they are invaluable in scouting areas for future fishing trips on The Canal.


After fooling my first pair of bass on The Canal back on June 5, 2021, near Geneseo, I decided that the historic fishing hole was worth a return visit. Several return visits later, I was further convinced that I should make it a regular destination. As I expanded my range on The Canal, I eventually came up with a couple more goals. One goal was to catch a four-pounder and I am still in pursuit with a 3-10 as my Top Canal Bass to date.

The next goal started with breaking The Canal into sections divided by various landmarks or features. Rather than just logging that I caught a bass on The Canal, I could make my log entries much more specific by noting something along the lines of Lock 24/Bridge 36 to Bridge 35. From there, the goal of catching a Top 5 limit in each section from the Rock River to the Sheffield Visitor Center came to mind. To date, I have fished twenty of the thirty-one sections I have designated and established Top 5 marks on sixteen of those stretches. Perhaps I will delve into those numbers another day.

Regarding today’s topic, my off-season aim was to observe some of the unseen sections during the winter to gather information before ever making a cast. Such exploration consists of evaluating aspects such as spots to drag in my boat, passable tubes beneath county roads, and what sort of structure/cover is available. An added bonus when onsite is crossing paths with folks who have fished the area and swapping fish stories. I also spend plenty of time on the internet perusing reports, pictures, and videos. Comments, landmarks, or clues in those posts can also be helpful while out gathering information.

Thanks to these off-season prowls, my ever-expanding collection of notes and videos include the following commentary: “Looks good”, “Fish this”, “large beaver lodge”, “solid lilypads, impossible to fish after spring”, “tubes passable both ends”, and other bits of helpful information. While I don’t know if I could yet write a whole book on The Canal, I sure think that I could put together a few chapters. Thus far in 2024, I have revisited familiar areas but once the weather and the bite warm a bit, it’s time to cash in on some of the off-season reconnaissance with the tackle in tow on spots unfished. Talk to you later. Troy

6 thoughts on “Hennepin Canal Pre-Season Prowls

  1. Exploring the Hennepin Canal during the off-season is a smart move! Gathering intel and scouting new spots sets the stage for successful fishing trips later. Can’t wait to hear about your adventures when you put your tackle to work. Tight lines, Troy

      1. Appreciate the feedback and I have a batch of reports from the March outings on The Canal in the works.

    1. Thank you for the comment. Those scouting trips keep “Cabin Fever” at bay, provide exercise, and hopefully will translate into some fishing dividends as the year progresses.

  2. Do the tubes give you access to the canal if they are open? Fishable water on the other side of the canal through the tubes? We used to bet on ice outs for particular lakes. Seems like about March 7 on flat land lakes was about average. Now the betting centers around will we have safe ice in January. Yea, you’re old enough to remember those days. Keep on truckin. That 4 pounder is just a flip away. Thanks for the write ups.

    1. Hit or miss on the tubes but quite a few allow for moving from one pool to the next. Height is the limiting factor on several tubes. My eight foot johnboat slips through many tubes quite easily and I have observed full size bass boats doing the same. Yes, it sure seems like ice fishing is a much shorter season these days. As a less than dedicated ice fisherman, it doesn’t really break my heart. Thanks for the support and I know that four-pounder is out there. It won’t be for lack of effort if it continues to elude me.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *