Category Archives: conservation

IFFF Fly Fishing School – July 24-26

In case you know someone looking to get into or advance in the sport of fly fishing…

When: July 24-26, 2015
Where: Rochester, MN – RCTC

All the details you’d ever want to know and more here http://www.fedflyfishers.org/Councils/UpperMidwest/Events

…and here: Fly Fishing School Poster 2015

It’s really simple; be respectful

I was saddened to see this bit of information on the MNTU Facebook Page.

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A Heads-up on the loss of an Access to Rush Creek:
For years trout anglers had been able to drive in the long lane off Winona Cty. 25 and park by the red barn at the Wunderlich farm, and from there walk into a fine stretch of Rush Creek where several projects of HI work had been completed, near the confluence with Ferguson Creek. Several thefts of items from outbuildings and an angler who insisted he didn’t have to move his vehicle from in front of grain bins because “There is an angler easement here,” were cited by the landowners as reasons for their decision to close off the access. An easement has never been purchased. Access had always been granted as a courtesy before.
For the time being, the DNR suggests walking in by way of Ahrensfeld Creek (see map).

The most difficult part of this story is that an individual wouldn’t move his vehicle and disrespected the landowner. As a result, this has capped off access that many anglers have enjoyed for many years. We can do better. Always respect the landowner, and respect the rules of the angling easements.

Slot Limits and Harvesting Trout

Thanks to improved land use practices, habitat restoration, and a focus on wild trout management, Southeast Minnesota, is blessed with a great abundance of trout.   This great abundance is most obvious on our streams that have a special regulation called a “Slot-Limit” placed on them.  The  slot limit you will find is Southeast MN is a 12″ to 16″ protected slot.  This means that you must release all fish you catch that measure between 12 to 16 inches in length.  For the exact wording of the regulation, and which streams have it, see this MNDNR page.

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One 10 inch trout makes for part of a great breakfast.

When fishing these slot limit streams, an angler may actually be doing the trout population a favor by keeping a limit of trout.  This is because these streams typically have such a high population of trout, that they can’t grow to their greatest potential.  So, by protecting the trout that have grown to a larger size, while at the same time reducing the numbers of smaller trout, we hopefully end up with a more balanced size structure with more large trout.  That’s the theory.  The reality is that there just aren’t enough trout harvested to make much of a difference.  And that’s the bottom line: there’s just not a lot of harvest going on on many of our streams to negatively impact the overall trout populations.

Of course there are scenarios where harvest could possibly affect a trout population:  Streams that have low populations of trout may be negatively affected by over harvest.  This is not common here in MN.  Another scenario is that when anglers harvest too many larger (over 12 inches in our case) trout.  This has the effect of eliminating the stronger, faster growing fish from a stream, while leaving the smaller fish to reproduce, effectively stunting the overall fish population.  And this is another reason we have the slot limit protecting these larger fish.

So, next time you are planning a trout fishing trip to Southeast MN, consider fishing one of the streams with a slot limit, and plan to keep some trout.  Not only are these wild fish of gourmet quality on the plate, they need to be thinned out in order to better balance their populations.  At the very least, you won’t be hurting anything by keeping them.

Changes to Simplify Southeast MN Trout Regulations

…and offer more opportunity are finally moving forward (not taking effect, yet, so your usual winter trout season rules still apply through this winter season). After a dramatic pause, one years in the making, we’re a little more than a month from the proposed changes becoming regulation. About 4 years ago, the DNR held numerous open houses to discuss simplifications of regulations and more angling opportunities in southeast MN and there has been overwhelming support between the meetings and written response.

Proposed changes:

  • Bring all designated trout streams in southeast Minnesota into the current winter season (“new catch-and-release season”).
  • Allow angling (catch-and-release) on designated trout streams in SE MN State Parks (“state park season”) from October 15th to December 31st.
  • Extend the current SE MN fall catch-and-release season to October 15th.

Regulations changes on MN DNR site
Conservation Volunteer article

While the ball is in motion, for now, we wait. The DNR will adopt the regulations without a public hearing this spring pending there isn’t much pushback.

Fillmore County Manure Spill

A 2,000,000 gallon manure lagoon gave way sometime this past Sunday on a farm outside of Canton, MN and a portion of the manure drained into nearby “Donaldson” Creek, otherwise an unnamed feeder creek which flows into Wisel Creek. Amount of manure estimated to have flown into the feeder has been estimated between 350,000 to 1,000,000 gallons. It is unknown or unspoken at this time if there has been any fish killed – water was already high and turbid and it’s difficult to see effects at this time.

News Report

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More rain, occasionally heavy, is expected Wednesday into Thursday and there will be more runoff across southeast MN.

Discussion here

FYI: Comment Period Open on Proposed Change to Trout Regulations

There has been chatter for a while now regarding potential changes to regulations and extending trout seasons in southeast Minnesota. It is now open for public comment until February 11th, 2013. (thanks for the info, brntrout)

Below is the notice for public comment from the December 10th, 2012 edition of the MN State Register. I’ve highlighted the proposed changes in regulations applicable to the trout-y folk.

Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR)
Division of Fish and Wildlife
REQUEST FOR COMMENTS on Possible Amendments to and Repeal of Rules
Governing Fishing Regulations and Aquatic Plant Requirements, Minnesota Rules,
Chapters 6212, 6262, 6264, 6266, and 6280
Subject of Rule. The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) requests comments on its possible amendments to and repeal of rules governing various fishing regulations. The proposed rules would: make changes related to trout angling in southeastern Minnesota; repeal obsolete rules; make changes to improve consistency in trout fishing regulations and other fishing regulations on border waters; propose changes in fishing seasons for some species; make changes due to statutory changes; and make the specific changes described below.

Licenses and Permits
Repeal obsolete rules in Chapter 6212, subparts 6212.0100 through 6262.1300 due to the development and implementation of the electronic licensing system. These rules are either no longer pertinent to the sale of a license, or are covered in Chapter 6213.

Fishing Regulations and Requirements
– Remove the barbless hook gear restrictions on all designated trout streams and seasons in southeast.
– Clarify the regulations regarding gear restrictions (artificials and flies only) for southeast Minnesota trout streams.
– Extend the current southeast winter season to all designated trout streams in southeast Minnesota
– Allow catch-and-release angling on designated trout streams in some southeast Minnesota State Parks from October 15th to December 31st.
– Extend the current southeast Minnesota fall catch-and-release season to October 15th.
– Consider opening lakes for trout fishing that are currently closed to winter fishing.
– Consider adding regulations to manage smelt harvest on Grindstone Lake in Pine County.
– Add or delete lakes listed as open to whitefish and cisco netting, specifically open Spring Lake in Itasca County (near Spring Lake, Minnesota).
– Consider prohibiting the taking of flathead catfish during the winter. (Cite 37 SR 915) State Register, Monday 10 December 2012 Page 915

Official Notices
– Consider other water bodies for catch-and-release seasons for sturgeon.
– Clarify the rule or make them consistent with other laws.
– Change or add to existing fishing regulations to reflect recently enacted statute changes, make other existing emergency rules permanent, or eliminate obsolete or redundant rules.

Border Waters
– Changes in spearing rules and clarifications of angling rule for South Dakota border waters.
– Changes in regulations for the Minnesota border waters to make them consistent between the states, especially those that
are now different on the Iowa and Wisconsin borders.
– Changes in regulations on the Canadian border to either make them consistent with inland regulations or standardize opening dates for specific water bodies, including walleye on Basswood Lake in Lake County.
Aquatic Plants
– Eliminate obsolete or redundant rules that are part of the standards for aquatic plant management permit issuance regarding lotus protection.

Persons Affected. The rules may affect anglers, whitefish and cisco netters, and people who fish for trout. Individuals and businesses, such as resorts, motels, stores, and guides that provide goods or services to anglers may also be affected. Individuals and businesses that use or own property on or bordering Minnesota waters may be affected. The public and businesses that receive aquatic plant permits
might be affected.

Statutory Authority. The adoption of the rules is authorized in general by Minnesota Statutes, section 97A.045, subds. 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5, that describes the general powers and duties of the commissioner of natural resources to protect wild animals, modify seasons, regulate boundary waters, and prescribe permits and licenses; and Minnesota Statutes, section 97A.501, subds. 1 and 2, that authorizes the Department to regulate the taking, buying, selling, transporting, and possession of protected wild animals and endangered species. Other statutory authorities specific to the areas being considered for changes are as follows:
Minnesota Statutes, sections 14.05; 14.3895; 97C.205 (b); 97C.401; 97C.345, subd. 5; 97C.411; 97C.415;
97C.395; 97C.041; 97C.325; 97C.371; 97C.375; 97C.001; 97C.005; 97C.805, subd. 1; and 103G.615.
Public Comment. Interested persons or groups may submit comments or information on these possible rules in writing or orally until 4:30 p.m. on Monday, February 11, 2013. The DNR does not anticipate appointing an advisory committee to comment on the possible rules.

Rules Drafts. The DNR has not yet prepared a draft of the possible rules amendments or repeals and does not anticipate that a draft of the rules will be available before the publication of the proposed rules.
Agency Contact Person. Written or oral comments, questions, requests to receive a draft of the rules when it has been prepared, and requests for more information on these possible rules should be directed to:

Linda Erickson-Eastwood
Department of Natural Resources
500 Lafayette Road, Box 20
St. Paul, Minnesota 55155-4020
linda.erickson-eastwood@state.mn.us
Telephone: (651) 259-5206
or 1-888-MINNDNR
TTY users may call the Department at (651) 296-5484 or 1-800-657-3929

New Location, New Look, Same Idea

There are new links across the top of this site. I’m working on getting stuff updated as quickly as I can, but there will be some blank spots for a while.

This website is simply the home base for a forum which has been in existence for many years. What is now Minnesota Trout Forums used to be … ahem… something like Minnesota Trout Forums but located at driftless-skies. I never really liked that URL, it seemed too vague and …wait, what? You’ve lost my attention. Anyway, prior to the message board being titled “Driftless Skies” or something like that, it was at one time the Minnesota Trout Unlimited, message board which I administrated for years. Ultimately, as with many message boards, the repeated flame-outs reflected negatively on an overall positive, volunteer organization. The spirit of the board remains intact. It’s a forum for trout a-fishy-anados who hold a strong passion for the conservation of our State’s great outdoor heritage, namely, in our case, Minnesota’s coldwater resource. It’s not that we despise other realms of fishing or the outdoors, but mainly, this is for the trout people.

I’ll be working on this website and on the forum, trying to spruce things up around the joint and provide some fresh content. I may need your help at some point, whether it’s communication from all corners of the state or with maintaining the costs of hosting. For now, I’ve whittled things down and will build up from there.

Ultimately, this will be a productive, friendly place to discuss trout, fishing, trout fishing, fly tying, and more often than not, from the foundation of a conservationist. I encourage everyone to take part, and I have no patience for repeated flame-outs on the old, sore subjects. Speak your mind and your passion, but personal attacks will not be tolerated. If you can’t state your case without demeaning someone else, you’ve lost your case.

Enjoy, and have fun.