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DNR stocked trout ahead of last weekend's opener

A crew from the Department of Natural Resources stocked the Vermillion River with 3,000 rainbow trout on Friday, April 7, including at several spots at Rambling River Park in Farmington. Stream trout fishing season in Dakota County begins Saturday, April 15. Matthew Steichen / Independent Town Pages1 / 2
Matthew Steichen / Independent Town Pages2 / 2

To local anglers, a DNR crew rolling up to the Vermillion River bank with thousands of trout flopping around in a tank is a sure sign of spring.

A small group of visitors to Farmington's Rambling River Park last Friday got to witness 3,000 rainbow trout exploring their new home for the first time when the Minnesota DNR's East Metro Fisheries showed up to stock the river. The crew made its way along the Vermillion River stocking 3,000 11- to 12-inch rainbow trout from the Lanesboro State Fish Hatchery in preparation for stream trout season, which opened Saturday, April 15.

According to the DNR, Minnesota has roughly 3,800 miles of designated trout streams. Filled with a combination of brown trout, brook trout and rainbow trout, the streams will open to anglers with a license and a trout validation or stamp this Saturday.

Because rainbow trout do not naturally reproduce in Minnesota streams like brown trout do, their population must be maintained by stocking. East Metro Fisheries manager T.J. DeBates said there is a good chance the DNR will get another 2,000 to 2,500 rainbow trout to restock the Rambling River area in the next couple weeks. The Southern Dakota County Sportsman Club also purchases about 1,000 trout to help stock the Vermillion River each spring.

"They're really a great partner, and we really appreciate all they do for the DNR," DeBates said.

This year marks the second trout fishing season since the DNR enacted a regulation change allowing anglers to keep any rainbow trout they catch outside Farmington city limits.

"It used to be where you could only keep trout within the city of Farmington, and we changed it to where you can actually keep trout throughout the whole designated portion of the stream," DeBates said. "In the past, we'd stock rainbow trout within the city of Farmington, and if those fish migrated and people caught them, they weren't able to keep them."

Another reason for the regulation change, he said, was to give the public more opportunity to enjoy the vast array of state land outside Farmington.

"A lot of that state land downstream of Farmington is really pretty," DeBates said. "We wanted people to be able to get out of the metro without having to drive too far. We really want people to get out there, catch the fish and keep them ... to come out with their families, have a fun time, and get out to nature. And the fact that it's so close makes it a great opportunity for that."

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