Until now, those of you visiting southeast MN during the peak of fall color change have been forced to leave your fishing gear at home and yearn for a rod in hand while trout rise freely on sunny afternoons. I received word today that long awaited expansions of trout angling opportunities, including fall trout fishing, are at last moving forward.
Nearly four years ago the DNR held public open houses to vet proposed regulation changes for SE trout angling which had been talked about since the mid-2000s. Proposed changes for southeast Minnesota include:
- Extending the current southeast winter season to all designated trout streams in southeast Minnesota
- Extending the current southeast Minnesota fall catch-and-release season to October 15
- Allowing catch-and-release trout angling in Whitewater, Forestville and East Beaver Creek State Parks from October 15 to December 31
Overwhelming support during the 2010 open houses was followed by a presentation at the January 2012 Fisheries Roundtable indicating the DNR would move quickly to adopt these changes. But, as many of you know, visible progress since then has been slow in coming. After much nudging by MNTU the rule changes have at last been submitted for publication in the State Register. Formal notice of intent to adopt these rules will be published on February 18, 2014 and public comments accepted through March 28, 2014.
The notice, proposed rules and statement of justification have already been placed on the MNDNR website at: http://www.dnr.state.mn.us/input/rules/fisheries/se-mn-trout.html
An article in the Jan-Feb 2013 issue of the Minnesota Conservation Volunteer does a good job of exploring why these rule changes make good sense. It can be found on-line at: http://www.dnr.state.mn.us/volunteer/janfeb13/trout.html
John P. Lenczewski
Minnesota Trout Unlimited