The Department of Natural Resources will eliminate trout stocking in 60 lakes and streams and close part of its French River Hatchery near Duluth as part of a major change to its statewide trout program.


The cutbacks will take place in areas where stocking results have not met expectations or where self-sustaining trout populations have been established, the agency said.


The DNR said the changes will have "minimal effect'' on anglers, but will save the state up to $200,000 annually.The DNR will shift trout production from French River to various state hatcheries.


"We are reducing operating costs where they are high, and stocking efforts where the return on investment is low," Dirk Peterson, acting DNR fisheries chief, said in a news release. "We are doing this in a way that will minimize any effects on the majority of anglers."


The agency said the new approach follows an in-depth assessment by DNR staff and implements various aspects of the DNR's Lake Superior and southeast Minnesota trout plans. Last year, the DNR stocked 2.2 million trout at a cost of $2.4 million. In recent years the DNR's trout program has included 615 designated trout streams, 163 designated trout lakes, 112 inland lake trout lakes, 2 two-story trout-and-warm water fishing lakes, and the 1.4 million-acre Lake Superior.


The DNR said anglers will not be significantly affected because stocking reductions will be in only those waters where fishing pressure was low, trout survival and growth was poor or the stocking has resulted in a self-sustaining fishery that is no longer dependent on stocking.


According to the DNR, the changes are the result of a lengthy internal review of the trout program. Managers revised traditional stocking recommendations based on angler use, the number of fish caught by anglers and whether stocking still made sense based on competing warm water fish populations or other factors.  This field assessment included reviewing the Lake Superior and southeast Minnesota trout plans.





The DNR also announced Thursday that it is considering the stocking muskies in five new waters starting in fall 2011.


Proposed for muskie management are Roosevelt Lake in Cass and Crow Wing counties; Upper South Long Lake and Lower South Long Lake in Crow Wing County; Tetonka Lake in Le Sueur County; and the Sauk River Chain in Stearns County.



The announcement marks the beginning of a lengthy process to determine if the lakes will eventually become muskie waters. The DNR will post information on the proposed stocking at boat landings at the five lakes this spring, conduct public input meetings this summer and fall, and accept public comments until early next winter. If the DNR decides to move forward with the proposals, stocking would start in 2011. It would be 12 to 15 years after that before the fish reach 48-inches, the minimum size at which a muskie can be kept.


Currently, muskies are found in 116 Minnesota water bodies. Of these,

64 are waters that have been stocked by the DNR.



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