Minnesota’s popular warm weather stream trout season opens Saturday, April 13, with quality fishing opportunities in every region of the state. Brook trout and splake fishing also opens on Lake Superior and its tributary streams that have no posted boundaries.
“The trout fishing opportunities are improving through investments in trout habitat, angler access, sound land use, and science-based management. Anglers help pay for this work when they buy fishing licenses and trout stamps.” said Jamison Wendel, DNR stream habitat consultant.
Minnesota has roughly 3,800 miles of designated trout streams. Its four coldwater hatcheries produce more than 1.7 million fingerlings and yearlings for stocking each year. Anglers fishing on designated trout waters must have a trout validation in addition to an angling license.
Southeastern Minnesota offers some of the best trout fishing in the upper Midwest, and the area’s stream levels have returned to normal after the spring melt. Anglers can look forward to a great trout opener, said Ron Benjamin, Lanesboro area fisheries supervisor, with great numbers of adult fish.
“These are the good ol’ days right now. It doesn’t get any better than this,” Benjamin said. “We encourage folks to get out and enjoy the fishing.”
The southeastern part of the state has a wide variety of streams and fishing opportunities – everything from big waters with fly or bait casting, to tiny streams that require an angler to crawl through brush to access. There are even places to float a drift boat like in some western states.
“Basically any fishing opportunity somebody wants, it’s here. And our populations are as good as any place in the country,” Benjamin said.
Trout fishing elsewhere in Minnesota
Trout fishing excitement can be found in many other areas of the state, including in Lake Superior. Cory Goldsworthy, Lake Superior area fisheries supervisor, notes that people can fish from boats, break walls, and shore on Lake Superior, as well as in tributaries to the big lake.
“Anglers are doing really well on Lake Superior. Folks don’t need a big boat to get out there, a regular sized walleye boat will do just fine. They just need to check out the nearshore marine forecast, take a backup electric motor or a kicker, and make sure they have the required Coast Guard safety equipment,” Goldsworthy said.
This time of year, anglers on shore can cast spoons off the break wall in Two Harbors or in front of one of the many river mouths along the North Shore, and have a really good opportunity to catch lake trout, Goldsworthy said.
Another spring rite of passage on the North Shore is steelhead fishing. And Kamloops trout can also be caught in the French and Lester rivers, as well as at their confluences with the big lake.
In the northwestern region, trout fishing opportunities are available for large brown trout on places like the Straight River, or brook trout on Kabekona Creek.
Doug Kingsley, Park Rapids area fisheries supervisor, said fish populations look pretty typical, with good numbers and sizes of fish. Rain or more rapid melting could change things for anglers, though.
“The telling thing will be what happens between now and the opener. But water levels and clarity are good now, and it looks like it’s going to be fairly dry,” Kingsley said.
For Twin Cities anglers looking to stay close, Dakota County’s Vermillion River offers the opportunity to catch lunker brown trout at a number of publicly accessible spots along the stream.
New for this year, there are 10 additional miles of easements, mostly in the Lanesboro area, that allow access exclusively for anglers and landowners, 66 feet from the centerline of the streams.
“Adding additional easements increases angling opportunity in many areas previously closed to the public,” Wendel said.
Fishing easements and stream accesses can be found online in maps on the DNR’s trout fishing page.