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Stream trout fishing a cure for winter blues

Looking for a cure for the winter blues?

The winter trout fishing season in the southeast -- strictly catch and release -- runs Jan. 1 - March 31.

Currently, 38 streams and about 135 miles are open to catch-and-release winter trout angling.

"Winter stream trout fishing provides an excellent opportunity to enjoy the outdoors in the midst of winter and also sharpens your angling skills," said Steve Klotz, Minnesota Department of Natural Resources area fisheries supervisor at Lanesboro.

The DNR implemented the winter trout fishing season in 1988.

"The season has not had a detrimental effect on fish populations and has proven very popular," 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.

Tips that may increase an angler's success:

  • Carry a thermometer; fish are most active at water temperatures of 38 degrees and warmer.
  • Fish slow and use nymph imitators like small jigs that are easier to fish at slow speeds; just wiggling a Rapala in the water also can work.
  • For spinning and spincasting equipment, use a Teflon lubricant that's not affected by cold.
  • Use unconventional methods by creating unique lures or a cane pole.

    Klotz also said only barbless hooks are allowed. Crimped hooks are permitted, and fish handling should be kept to a minimum. If the temperature is below freezing, trout should not be removed from the water.

    "A lot of our streams were hit hard by flooding this summer," Klotz said. "That, combined with the already-stressful conditions trout are experiencing in winter and after spawning, requires a careful approach to angling. Take care to avoid walking in riffles, where trout eggs may be incubating, and also to fight and release fish as quickly and gently as possible."

    Only select streams are open to winter fishing. Those streams are listed in the 2007 Fishing Regulation booklet, in the brochure 2007 Trout Angling Opportunities in Southeastern Minnesota, and on the DNR Web site

    A sampling of creeks 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 branches.)

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