Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Time to try for trout: Opener coming up

Conditions are ripe to give trout fishing a try anywhere on Minnesota’s 3,800 miles of trout streams after fishing opens Saturday, April 18, on inland trout streams statewide.

“It’s a great time to be a stream trout angler,” said Brian Nerbonne, Minnesota Department of Natural Resources stream habitat consultant. “Access to trout streams has increased in recent years thanks in large part to increased funding that has allowed the DNR to improve trout stream access and trout habitat.”

The DNR has purchased more than 38 miles of angling easements since 2009 that grant public access to fishing. In total, the DNR owns 515 miles of trout stream easements, and another 1,228 miles flow through public land such as county, state, or federal forests and parks.

Stream conditions should be ideal for fishing this spring.

“We had an early snowmelt, so streams are running clear. Barring heavy rains close to opening day, we should have great conditions for the opener,” Nerbonne said. “For fly anglers, there have been reports of insect hatches in southeastern Minnesota during the early catch-and-release season. And trout abundance in southeastern Minnesota streams remains high, with numbers that are twice what they were in the 1980s and 1990s.”

Trout populations have increased for a number of reasons, including habitat improvements made by the DNR, local governments and agencies, conservation partners like Trout Unlimited, and conservation-minded people. 
The increase in funding to create access and habitat improvements comes in large measure from the Outdoor Heritage Fund as recommended by the Lessard-Sams Outdoor Heritage Council and approved by the state Legislature. The Outdoor Heritage Fund is one of several created by the Clean Water, Land and Legacy Amendment to the state constitution in 2008.

The possession limit for brook, brown and rainbow trout, and splake, is five combined, with not more than one longer than 16 inches. In Lake Superior streams, different regulations exist below posted boundaries, and anglers should check for special regulations on the streams where they plan to fish. 

For more information on trout fishing, see www.mndnr.gov/fishmn/trout. For information about southeastern Minnesota streams, call the Lanesboro area fisheries office at 507-467-2442, and for information about streams in the rest of the state, call Nerbonne at 651-259-5205.