WINDOM - There may be a major spring snowstorm hitting the region this week, but the calendar says it’s time for Minnesota’s stream trout fishing opener.
In advance of Saturday’s opening day for trout fishing, Minnesota Department of Natural Resources Fisheries staff were busy Tuesday stocking a pair of area streams with brown trout. It’s a tradition that has spanned more than 50 years, offering area residents an opportunity to fish in a corner of the state not typically known for trout.
Ryan Doorenbos, Area Fisheries Supervisor at Windom, said trout fishing has become a tradition for anglers, with just two streams stocked in this part of the state. On Tuesday, the DNR stocked 450 brown trout in Scheldorf Creek, northwest of Windom, and 2,500 in the Redwood River at Camden State Park, south of Marshall.
“It’s typically done right before the opener,” Doorenbos said, adding that the two locations are stocked because the streams have more groundwater influence and therefore stay cooler than most southwest Minnesota water bodies through the summer.
“Brown trout have a little more tolerance of warmer temperatures,” he noted.
The trout were delivered to Windom via semi tractor-trailer from Lanesboro, where they were hatched and raised to a year old. In addition to the southwest Minnesota stops, fish were also being delivered Tuesday to streams near Hutchinson and Ortonville.
“The trailer is a series of tanks and each tank is separated,” said Doorenbos, noting that oxygen is pumped in and a specific number of trout are in each tank to prevent overcrowding.
Once the truck arrived in Windom, the 450 brown trout for Scheldorf Creek were netted from the trailer’s tank and transferred to the Windom Fisheries stock truck for delivery to the creek.
While stocking numbers may fluctuate slightly from year to year, Doorenbos suspects there aren’t a lot of trout that remain in the local stream over winter. It isn’t the goal of the DNR to stock enough trout to get natural reproduction, he added.
“It’s to create a unique opportunity for people who might not be able to make it to southeast Minnesota (to fish for trout),” Doorenbos said. “We provide catchable trout, and they can do it locally here - they don’t have to travel all the way across the state.”
An advanced biology class at Southwest Minnesota Christian in Edgerton assisted in Tuesday’s brown trout stocking at Camden State Park. The class has worked with the DNR for the past four or five years, Doorenbos said. Assisting with the stocking has become part of their curriculum.
“We give them opportunities to do some hands-on learning,” Doorenbos said. “This is kind of the pinnacle of their class - to be able to see the top predator in the Redwood River.”
To catch trout in Minnesota, fishermen are required to have a valid Minnesota fishing license as well as a trout stamp. People can have up to five trout in possession, with only one over 18 inches in length. A park pass is required to fish in a state park.