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modern interpretive display panels at french river with lake superior in the background


French River Wayside Rest Area

mile 11.5


The NEW [2022] interpretive panels at French River Wayside Rest give a snapshot of the creation of Scenic 61/Congdon Boulevard and commercial fishing on Lake Superior. The site has an easy walk down to to a gravel swimming beach [no fishing!] making it an ideal place to cool down on those 12 hot days of the year. A fish sanctuary from the mouth of the French River to the four-lane freeway is in place as the MN Department of Natural Resources traps adult rainbow trout sometimes referred to as steelhead. The big steelhead run happens from late October into November with a smaller spring run in April. Eggs are removed and sent to a Minnesota hatchery where offspring are raised and returned to Lake Superior. The hatchery fish have their adipose fin [the one on the back between the dorsal fin and tail] clipped. Unclipped fish are native and have naturally reproduced.
Steelhead, Rainbow, Kamloops Trout - what's the difference?
Rainbow trout and steelhead are the same species but steelhead live in saltwater and spawn in freshwater streams, while rainbows live in freshwater. Pacific steelhead fish were introduced to Lake Superior in the 1890s. Rainbows raised in a hatchery and released are also known as Kamloops or 'Loopers. Unclipped/native fish can never be harvested when fishing.




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