STONY BROOK, LAKESHORE, MN—The early ice-out of 2010 seems to be all that anglers can talk about—everybody except for trout anglers.
These lovers of moving water don’t worry about ice-out. Most of their favorite waters are free of ice all year long. Now that Minnesota’s trout season is open those miles and miles of stream are primed to go.
Actually, the trout opener is a big deal in towns alongside trout streams but never as big as the walleye opener. That’s partly because trout season has already been open for catch-and-release angling throughout much of the state’s trout waters—and partly because there just aren’t as many trout anglers out there.
Something that is just fine by most trout anglers.
There’s something about the elegance and challenge of moving waters that draws anglers to trout streams. It is said that trout don’t live in ugly places and Minnesota’s 1,900-plus miles of trout streams, each with their own look, are anything but ugly.
Minnesota is home to some of the finest, and often most over-looked, trout fishing in the nation.
The Department of Natural Resources has worked closely with conservation organizations like Trout Unlimited to secure land adjacent to trout streams and ensure public access to these blue ribbons winding through the wilderness.
Waters that were once untouchable are now accessible giving trout anglers more opportunities than ever. Creel surveys conducted by the DNR indicate that 30 years ago it took seven hours to catch a stream trout while today the rate is a trout an hour.
A feature unique to Minnesota is the diverse menu from which you can choose your setting and surroundings. These include: rugged and rocky streams along Lake Superior’s North Shore; bluffland rivers and brooks carved into deep valleys in the unglaciated limestone of the southeastern corner; quiet spring-fed streams surrounded by big walleye waters in the central portion of the state; prairie streams of the southwest; and, streams of the Twin Cities that have remained trophy fisheries despite a sprawling metropolitan area.
Minnesota streams are home to three main species of trout including rainbow, brown and brook. The brook trout is the most sensitive of all species usually found in the cool, headwater portions of a stream. Brown trout are the most prevalent with fishable populations found throughout the state. Rainbow trout are stocked in the southeast and naturally reproduce along some streams of the Arrowhead region.
The largest concentration of trout streams and best potential for a trophy is in the southeast corner. Try the Whitewater River near Elba and the Root River near Preston. Most streams originate from springs and stay cool throughout the summer with frequent hatches of mayflies, caddis flies and midges providing an excellent forage base.
Along the North Shore, rivers such as the French, Sucker, Baptism, Temperance and Cascade are among the most consistent. There are also trout streams further inland near Duluth including the Blackhoof and Cloquet.
Prairie streams of the southwest are small and short but virtually untouched and untapped. The Brainerd Lakes area holds Stony Brook and Cory Brook, two of my favorites. I hesitate mentioning such small streams in a very popular fishing portion of the state, but like many anglers who regularly fish these streams, the hope is that sharing their richness will only inspire more anglers to protect them in an area otherwise enveloped in sprawl.
Speaking of sprawl, the Twin Cities area is home to the Vermillion River and the Kinnickinnic (just across the Wisconsin border).
Always consult the Minnesota Fishing Regulations for season dates, limits and restrictions. Trophy trout streams get that way through careful management and regulations change from year to year. Regulations are even different on different stretches of the same river. The best place for detailed maps, access points and easements is the DNR webpage at www.dnr.state.mn.us
Minnesota’s trout fishing streams are sensitive ecosystems requiring diligence of anglers for future opportunities. Where catch and release is not required, it is strongly advocated. Just don’t forget that a meal’s worth of trout is a trophy in itself.