Anglers hoping to catch and keep trout from the Vermillion River could have an extended fishing season and more territory to troll, as the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources(DNR) reworks its regulations for the stream in hopes of attracting more visitors.
The river in southern Scott and Dakota counties is one of just a few places in the Twin Cities metro area where people can catch trout, said Mark Zabel, administrator for the Vermillion River Watershed Joint Powers Organization.
“The trout are kind of our sentinel species,” he said. “It’s the thing people really pay attention to.”
Volunteers and the DNR have spent decades cleaning up the once heavily polluted river and stocking it with trout. Now, they want to provide as many opportunities as possible for people to enjoy the stream, said Brian Nerbonne, DNR stream habitat coordinator.
“The more people that appreciate the river and go out and enjoy it, the more support there’s going to be to protect that river,” he said.
Currently, people casting into the stream can keep only rainbow and brown trout if they catch the fish within a 2-mile stretch that’s primarily located in Rambling River Park in Farmington.
If the DNR institutes the new rules, people could keep rainbow trout caught anywhere along the Vermillion, starting with next year’s fishing season.
“We’re more than happy if those anglers are able to go and take advantage of those fish, and if they want to take them home and eat them, they can,” Nerbonne said.
Brown trout, however, would have to be released if caught anywhere along the Vermillion, including inside the Farmington boundaries. Brown trout reproduce naturally. But rainbow trout are stocked annually at Rambling River Park, although the DNR plans to begin stocking fish elsewhere along the river, too, Nerbonne said.
There will likely need to be some signs or material educating people on which fish they can take, Zabel said.
“There may be issues with that, because I don’t expect everyone that goes fishing will know the difference between a rainbow and a brown,” he said.
The new regulations also would change the fishing season on the river so it lasts from April 15 to Sept. 14, with catch-and-release season continuing through Oct. 15. That matches the time frame for fishing on other trout streams in southeastern Minnesota.
The DNR will hold a public meeting on the proposals at 7 p.m. on Sept. 10 at the Vermillion Highlands Wildlife Management Area office, 15325 Babcock Ave. in Rosemount. Alternately, people who want to provide input can e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.