Biggest Greater Redhorse

Tuesday, November 1, 2022
27.5", 10 lb

Every year in Late October, I take a handful of afternoons off from work to target big redhorse as they migrate downstream to Wintering locations.  At this time of year my weekends are busy in the woods, hunting and putting firewood up for the cold months, so I need to sneak out during the week when I can.  I have been patterning this opportunity for many years on a river which sports a healthy population of shorthead, silver and greater redhorse.  It is often sleeting, snowing and windy and darkness comes quickly here in a Minnesota Autumn.

This year I’d had meager success over 5 trips so far.  However, the last time out just before dark a good shorthead bite came through and I caught 4 from a small deep slot.  As I drove to the river today 4 days later, I was thinking about this and excited for another try. 

It’s easy to keep redhorse fishing gear in your vehicle at all times so that you can take advantage of small opportunities to fish.  All that is needed is a well-balanced bottom fishing rod capable of casting weight up to 2 oz, a soft mesh landing net, and a small gear bag with hooks, weights and swivels.  Kept in a cooler in the shade, redworms will live in your vehicle too at this time of year.

Arriving at my chosen spot along the river, I quickly deployed my one baited line as allowed in my home state of Minnesota and propped it in a bank stick.  A few minutes went by with no bites, and I soaked in my beautiful surroundings.  There was a slough across the river from me, full of mallards and wood ducks feeding.  The sun shone brightly on this unseasonably warm first day of November, unlike the rain and sleet I’d seen the week before.   These solitary Fall afternoons on the river are my favorite.

The first thing I noticed was the current starting to fold around a log near where I sat.  Previously the water near shore was perfectly still, but now subtle lines of disturbance flowed around this piece of wood.  Did the water just recede?  I moved my bank stick to mark the edge of the water.  Suddenly my line caught debris and I had to reel it in.  Green, sticky moss covered my weight and hook.  I cleaned it off, and re-cast.  Again, my bait was fouled with algae and bounced downstream.

The river had receded a foot (laterally), and now I saw mats of weeds and algae being sucked out of the slough and forced into the now strong flow of the current.  I cast out again and my 2 oz of weight bounced along downstream.  I re-rigged with a 3 oz weight, but it also could not hold in the river whose flow was now restricted and flowing fast.  The main flow here was now unfishable as the current rolled globs of hair algae and dead leaves downstream along the bottom of the river.  The river had dropped a vertical foot in just 30 minutes.

I knew now that they had opened up the dam a few miles downstream from here.  With a couple of hours left to fish I decided to drive to a spot downstream, where I knew a big deadfall lay in the water and created a stark current break.  Maybe the main flow and algae would roll past this deadfall and the fish will tuck into the slack water right along this break.  This was my last chance to fish before heading into the North woods for 10 days deer hunting, so I had to give it a try.


As I walked up to the deadfall, it looked promising – a very distinct current edge showed and the water on my side of it was slack.  The river’s bank was now slick smelly muck, as it had been covered by water all Summer until now.  Just a short flip of 25 feet was needed to get my bait out along the seam, and I set my rod in the holder.  Right away I got a good tap-tap bite, and landed a shorthead redhorse – success!  I flipped my bait right back into this little spot and after just a couple of minutes another bite came.  This time I set into a heavy fish, and it fought doggedly in the pool.  I could not bring this fish’s head up or turn it, so I knew I was probably tied to a big greater redhorse.

I won’t go into the drawn-out battle I had with this fish, but it was epic and there was no doubt in my mind that I’d hooked the largest redhorse I’d seen in a very long time if ever.  Finally I was able to slide the net under the fish, and struggled to sling an enormous golden-flanked bruiser with a red tail onto the bank.  This was the 10 pound greater redhorse that I’d been chasing for decades!  After a few quick photos, I measured the rotund female at 27.5”, the longest I’d actually measured for the species.  The scale showed 10.5#, so I’ll call it an honest 10.
10 pound greater redhorse

Over the next 30 minutes I caught 2 more greaters and 2 shortheads, then had to leave.

This day was a great example of having conditions change drastically and using knowledge of the area and streamcraft to give yourself an advantage.  I almost gave up once the detritus and algae started flowing down and fishing got tough, but taking a shot at a theory led to catching my personal best greater redhorse.  This was my most memorable catch of 2022.


dlk243's picture

Awesome!! Great story and catch!!

angry mongrel's picture

Nice! Always good when you're fall fishing!

"It is better to die on your feet than to live on your knees" -Emiliano Zapata

Cast_and_Blast's picture

What a Brute!  Congrats!

D.T.'s picture

Holy Sparking Arfunkles Martha. That's a champion size fish. Great catch and nice beard too ha ha...

Phil's picture

Hard to describe in words -just have to absorb the photos!  Great accomplishment Andy and another master class in the art and science of Roughfishing.