(Released April 16, 2015-MNDNR)
If waiting until Saturday, May 9, for the walleye opener seems like an exercise in extreme patience, an entirely different type of fishing can be found after a short hike to the bank of a southeastern Minnesota trout stream.
“The Minnesota stream trout opener is Saturday, April 18, and the southeastern part of the state is an angler’s paradise for anyone willing to park the boat and do some walking and wading,” said Vaughn Snook, Lanesboro assistant area fisheries manager with the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources. “The area has more than 700 miles of designated trout streams.”
Anglers can find all three of Minnesota’s trout species in southeastern streams: brook trout, the only native species; brown trout, the most abundant, with reports of 30-inch monsters caught each year; and rainbow trout, stocked in catchable sizes where angling pressure is high.
Places to fish in the southeast also are ample. With 221 miles of angler easements – land along streams that’s privately owned but open for fishing – access to trout streams is readily available. State parks such as Whitewater, Forestville Mystery Cave and Beaver Creek Valley also provide quality cold-water angling opportunities.
The DNR publishes a booklet of maps highlighting where to access streams in the southeast. The maps also are available online by clicking on southern Minnesota maps.
“With this year’s early spring, anglers should find conditions favorable for an excellent opener,” Snook said. “The absence of a late snowmelt or heavy rains means waters should be clear and easy to wade.”
Warmer temperatures will likely mean more active fish. There are even reports of some early insect hatches, adding an element of interest for fly-fishing anglers who may try to “match the hatch.” Anglers can check with DNR area fisheries offices in Lanesboro or Lake City for current conditions.
The southeast’s prominence as a cold-water destination is largely the result of the area’s unique geology. Fractured limestone bedrock – or karst – gives rise to numerous underground streams that bubble up as springs, providing the cold, clean water needed by trout. A wet cycle over the past few decades has helped recharge those springs.
Better land use practices within the largely agricultural watersheds of southeastern Minnesota streams also have benefitted water quality. And in-stream improvement projects undertaken by the DNR in partnership with Trout Unlimited have helped provide more trout habitat. The result is some of the best trout fishing anywhere in the upper Midwest.
“These streams represent a real success story,” Snook said. “With twice as many fish per mile now as back in the 1970s and 1980s, these are the good old days when it comes to trout fishing in southeastern Minnesota.”
Anglers need a trout stamp when fishing in designated trout lakes and streams, unless they are 65 or older, or younger than 18, or are fishing with a valid 24- or 72-hour license, or are otherwise exempt from fishing license requirements.
Anglers fishing a nondesignated trout lake or stream do not need a trout stamp unless they are trying to catch trout or decide to keep one. Anglers 65 or older, or younger than 18, or fishing with a valid 24- or 72-hour license, do not need a trout stamp to fish for or keep trout anywhere. The stamp adds $10 to the cost of a fishing license, and for an additional 75 cents anglers can have the pictorial stamp mailed to them.
Minnesota DNR Web Site posting