The Red River of the North

February 20, 2009 by  

July 2005 – Fishery of the Month

Backwater Ed on the Red

Backwater Ed on the Red

The Red River of the North is quietly one of the state’s best fisheries. It’s one of the country’s best location to target big catfish; and some would argue hold’s the next state record walleye. One thing if for sure though, there’s a lot of big fish in this river!

Location: The entire eastern border of North Dakota.

Species: Channel Catfish, Muskellunge, Northern Pike, Smallmouth Bass, Fresh-water drum, Sauger, Bullheads, Walleye, Goldeye, Mooneye, Carp, Lake Sturgeon

Location of Public Access Sites

Pembina, North Dakota: The Pembina city campground has a concrete ramp, dock, and a bank fishing area. The campground is located at the confluence of the Pembina and Red Rivers.

Minnesota Highway #175 Crossing: A public boat launching and bank fishing site is located 10 miles west of Hallock on Highway #175 on the north side of the highway bridge. There is a bituminous-surface parking area for 15 car-trailer units and a concrete plank ramp. No services.

Drayton, North Dakota: The Drayton dam has a concrete ramp and a bank fishing area. The city of Drayton has a concrete ramp and a bank fishing area located directly east of the city water tower.

Oslo, Minnesota: Boat launching and bank fishing site located on the north side of the MN Highway #1 bridge near the water tower. Bituminous surfaced parking lot for 10-12 car- trailer units. There is a concrete ramp with floating dock. No services.

Grand Forks, North Dakota: There is a concrete ramp and bank fishing area located east of State Mill road approximately 1.5 miles north of US Highway 2. There is bank fishing area downstream of the Riverside dam located east of State Mill road on Red Dot Place. Grand Forks also has two large parks (Central and Lincoln) along the Red River. Bank fishing is a popular activity in these parks.

East Grand Forks, Minnesota: A public boat launching site is located in central East Grand Forks off Hill Street at Central Avenue. This is a full service municipal park facility with camping, electric and water hook ups, sanitary facilities, and picnic area. There is a gravel parking lot for many vehicles. A dock is located adjacent to the ramp. Lafave Park has good public bank-fishing opportunities on the Red River and Red Lake River.

Buxton, North Dakota: Belmont Park east of Buxton has a concrete ramp and bank fishing. Camping, water, and toilets are available.

Halstad Municipal Park, Minnesota: Bank fishing opportunities and earthen boat ramp are located 1 mile west of MN Highway # 75 on MN Highway #200 in Halstad. There is a picnic area with water, shelter and sanitary facilities.

Norman County Road #25, Minnesota: A public boat launching site located 1 mile west of MN Highway #75 on Norman County Road #25, near Hendrum. Asphalt parking surface for 8-10 car-trailer units. Concrete plank ramp. No dock or services are available.

Fargo, North Dakota: Bank fishing opportunities are located at Fargo water treatment plant, Trollwood Park, Veterans Hospital, El Zagel Park, Tree Foil Park (also called Dike East), North Dam, Oak Grove Park, Middle Dam, Lindenwood Park and Lemke Park (South Dam).

Moorhead, Minnesota: A public boat launching site located off of Eleventh Street North at M.B. Johnson Park, about ½ mile north of the Crystal Sugar processing plant. There is a bituminous- surface parking area for 15-20 car-trailer units and a bituminous-surface access to a double concrete plank ramp. No dock or services. Bank fishing opportunities are located at: M.B. Johnson Park, North Dam, Memorial Riverfront Park, Woodlawn Park, Middle Dam, Gooseberry Mound Park, and River Oaks Park (South Dam).

Abercrombie, North Dakota: – Located just south of Fort Abercrombie historical site. Concrete ramp.

Wahpeton, North Dakota – Breckenridge, Minnesota: A public boat launching site, public fishing pier, and bank fishing areas located off U.S. Highway 75 to Minnesota Avenue in the city of Breckenridge; west on Minnesota Avenue to the Red River. Concrete boat launch ramp, parking, and pier are located in Wells Memorial Park on the south shore of the Otter Tail River.

Location of Dams
Wolverton, North Dakota
Hickson, North Dakota
Fargo-Moorhead (3)
Grand Forks-East Grand Forks
Drayton North Dakota


Walleyes can be found along damns every spring.

Walleyes can be found along damns every spring.

“All of the big catfish that I have caught were on cut up goldeyes. I just take a big tin snip with me and cut them up into inch and a half chunks. The goldeyes seem to bite best on something up in the current a little, so I put a chunk of nightcrawler on a floating jighead with about a 1 foot snell (lindy style). I have caught my biggest fish relatively close to shore in slack water. “ — Jon Scraper

“My buddy and I use 2 fat heads (dead usually works best, live ones catch a lot of goldeye or other fish) on a size 2/0 or 4/0 CIRCLE hook. They work great for the flat mouthed fish because when they bite down it usually hooks them without even a set (set it anyways). We regularly catch 26-28″ catfish with my buddies biggest bein just over 30 inches and mine being just a hair under 36 inches. This is in Fargo too. You need to find them though, sometimes they will come closer to shore in really shallow water, other times in the deepest part, or on a ridge. I have the best luck in bellies or bend in the river. Chicken liver is really good too, but hard to keep on, so if you use it, bring a bunch. Another good bait is full grown suckers cut into chunks.”

“In the recent weeks we have seen exceptional catfishing on most of the Red River system. One of the best seasons I have seen in a while in fact. Lots of big cats plus numbers of eater sized cats on most every outing. Some of the best baits have been fresh cut Goldeye and frogs. Frogs will increasingly be the hot bait as the calendar creeps into fall, for catfish and walleye alike. Crankbaits run along shallow structure in the evening has produced some very nice walleye in recent days. Soon we will see more of a nocturnal bite if traditional fall patterns hold true. Over-sized plastics have also proved to be valuable in the fall, sumo sized tube baits are ones I like.” — Backwater Eddy

If you’re interested in more information, check out our Red River Fishing Reports.

You can also find more information through the ND Game & Fish.


5 Comments on "The Red River of the North"

  1. louie bank rat on Sun, 17th Jul 2011 10:07 pm 

    u get that muddy water in ur viens ur hooked for life love the red got many cats from the north dam in moorhead between 10 to 23lb in the last few years

  2. Casey on Thu, 28th Jul 2011 7:08 pm 


    I just moved here to North Dakota from the the west. There I was an avid trout fisherman. I have always wanted to catch catfish but never really had access to them. I was hoping I could get some tips on what to use, how to rig my rod for catfish, the best time to go, and where to go. I live in Grand Forks now and the red river is so close i wondered if there are any spots close. Any help is appreciated!


  3. Jacob on Mon, 12th Mar 2012 6:51 am 

    I live on the Red so fun to fish on this river. Thanks for the webpage!! You guys are awesome.

  4. Jennifer Beach on Mon, 27th Aug 2012 2:59 pm 

    Just wanted to say, My husband and I going fishing on the Red River August 31st 2012 and We are soooo excited! Some friends of ours go fishing there a few times a year and Loved it! So will let ya”ll know how it goes! Thanks

  5. Aaron on Sun, 27th Jul 2014 10:02 pm 

    A while ago I created a Google Map of the Red River of the North Boat Ramps and Dams. Find it at,-96.8281138,7z/data=!4m2!6m1!4s202356209138240010981.0004dbc2619d675e17389.

    Good fishing.

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