Saturday, February 4th, 2023
Saturday, February 4th, 2023

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Winter Stream Trout Season Brings Open-Water Action in SE Minnesota

While most Minnesota anglers focus on ice fishing at this time
of year, those hankering for open-water action might want to cast
their attention toward southeastern Minnesota, where the stream
trout season opened Jan. 1.

The southeast’s catch-and-release winter trout fishing season,
which runs through March 31, is the result of the increasing
popularity of trout fishing and requests from anglers to expand the
number of streams open to winter fishing. Currently, about 135
miles on 38 streams are open to winter trout angling.

“Winter stream trout fishing provides an excellent opportunity
to enjoy the outdoors during the heart of winter, and it sharpens
your angling skills,” said Steve Klotz, Department of Natural
Resources (DNR) area fisheries supervisor at Lanesboro. “It’s
highly challenging and great fun.”

Winter trout fishing may require the angler to experiment with
different tactics, Klotz said. As water temperatures drop, so does
fish activity. Every 10-degree temperature increase doubles the
biological activity of the fish, so afternoon fishing often is the
most productive. Anglers should carry a thermometer with them. Fish
are most active at temperatures of 38 degrees and above.

Other tips that could increase an angler’s

· Fish slow and deep, trout are most often out of the main
current flow.

· When fly fishing, effective patterns include scuds, midge
pupa/larva, and small pheasant tail patterns. Fly anglers should
watch for midge hatches that can increase trout feeding

· For spinning and spincasting equipment, keep your reel
cranking by using a Teflon lubricant that’s not affected by cold.
Single hooks on spinners help keep fish handling to a minimum.
Clipping one hook off of a treble also helps.

· With winter trout waters often crystal clear, trout grow wary,
so keep a low profile. It’s often best to stay out of the

· Look for springs flowing into streams, where the water often
is warmer.

At this time, only barbless hooks are allowed (crimped hooks are
permitted) and fish handling should be kept to a minimum. Trout
should not be removed from the water for any longer than it takes
to remove the hook and release it. Anglers also should avoid
walking in riffles, where trout eggs may be incubating.

The DNR implemented the winter trout fishing season in 1988
following improved water quality in the 1980s that created good
natural trout reproduction in southeast coldwater streams. The goal
has been to provide additional recreational opportunities without
harming the trout resource, which 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.

Only select streams are open to winter fishing. Those streams
are listed in the 2010 Fishing Regulation booklet, in the brochure
2009 Trout Angling Opportunities in Southern and Central Minnesota,
and on the DNR website at

A sampling of streams open for winter angling

· Fillmore County – Diamond Creek, Etna Creek, Gribben Creek,
North Branch Creek, South Fork Root River, Torkelson Creek and
Wisel Creek.

· Goodhue County – Hay Creek.

· Houston County – West Beaver Creek, Bee Creek, Crooked Creek,
Daley Creek, Swede Bottom Creek and South Fork Crooked Creek.

· Winona County – Coolridge Creek, Ferguson Creek, Garvin Brook,
Hemmingway Creek, West Branch Money Creek, Pine Creek, Rush Creek,
Trout Run, Trout Valley, Whitewater River (Main, Middle and North

Klotz advises anglers to remember that staying dry is the key to
staying warm, so it’s important to be cautious when crossing
streams or walking along snow covered banks, and to avoid walking
on any ice that forms along the water’s edge.


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