While most Minnesota anglers focus on ice fishing this time of year, those hankering for something different might want to cast their attention toward southeastern Minnesota, where the stream trout season opens Jan. 1.
The southeast’s winter trout fishing season is the result of the increasing popularity of trout fishing and requests from anglers to expand the number of streams open to winter fishing. The season is catch-and-release, and only barbless hooks may be used. Currently, about 135 miles on 38 streams are open to winter trout angling through March 31. See maps of open streams.
DNR Lanesboro Area Fisheries Manager Steve Klotz offers several suggestions for a safe and productive winter trout fishing adventure.
Use caution when approaching trout streams, because trout are normally skittish, and a dry fall has resulted in low flows and clear water in many streams.
Trout have just finished spawning for the year, so anglers should minimize walking in streams to avoid disturbing trout eggs.
Avoid handling trout out of the water when temperatures are cold as it can stress the fish.
Be careful about parking and walking when there is snow and ice on the ground. Also, don’t take any chances with shelf ice that may form along stream banks.
Anglers who stay dry will stay warm.
Tell someone about your trip plans.
The DNR implemented the winter trout fishing season in 1988 following improved water quality in the 1980s, which created good natural trout reproduction in southeast coldwater streams. The goal has been to provide additional recreational opportunities without harming the trout resource. This resource is particularly vulnerable during fall spawning and the stress of winter. DNR creel surveys and other studies have shown that the winter catch-and-release season does not cause any negative impacts to trout populations.