Reposted from The President's Angle column in our March Newsletter
Shortly after moving to the Twin Cities some 30 years ago, my wife and I crossed the Kinnickinnic River at the Highway 35 bridge just north of River Falls. “I’ve heard of this river," I said, “It’s one of the most famous trout streams in the country.” A few weeks later, she gave me a fly rod for my birthday, and her life hasn’t been the same since. In those days, I spent most of my time on the Upper Kinni, where the current flows deep and smooth. I could get onto the water within 5 minutes of parking my car—an important consideration given my young family and a full-time job.
The Kinni above Powell Dam on March 20th
Almost all of the snow has melted in the Kinnickinnic Canyon, but there is some ice still hanging onto the north facing walls. Below is a video of one of the "Weeping Walls". In the summer it is covered with moss as the water drips from countless springs into the river. That's not going to happen for a while, but the trout don't seem to mind. They were taking streamers and soft hackle wet flies below the wall.
The temperature finally went into the 50s today! Great weather for fishing...except the snowmelt flows into the river, cooling it down and staining the water. A little stain is not a bad thing, but when the visibility gets to be less than a foot it is tough to fish flies. And, at this time of year, a drop in water temperature shuts the feeding off cold! Best to fish when temperatures are steady or rising, and find other things to do once the afternoon melt hits. Here are some screenshots from the gage and camera on the Kinnickinnic River at Highway F today.
Until about 3 pm, the river gage held steady, but started to rise quickly thereafter.
This Secchi disk photo taken at 3 pm from the time-elapse video shows the river was still clear.
By 5 pm. the river had become stained so much that the Secchi disk was almost invisible. No doubt that the water temperature had dropped, too.
If you plan to fish the Kinni, check out the USGS gage and time lapse video here. It makes a good proxy for nearby streams as well!
By Evan Griggs, Membership Coordinator
The Twin Cities Trout Unlimited Chapter ranks in the top three largest TU chapters in the country. With more than 2000 members, not only do we cover a large geographic area, we also cover a wide array of demographics. Earlier this year, the board sent out a survey to know our members better, and guide our chapter activities and projects. We received nearly 300 responses to our survey, and below are a few interesting stats.
Our membership cares about conservation! When asked, “What types of activities would you be interested in volunteering for?” over 63% put conservation projects as their top pick.
Another front running activity was education and outreach (over 28%).
We also asked respondents for their secret fishing spots. Well not exactly, but we did find out where they prefer to fish. Over 42% of respondents said they primarily fish western Wisconsin streams within 75 miles including the Kinnickinnic and Rush Rivers. 26% head to SE MN or SW WI beyond 75 miles and nearly 21% fish MN streams within 75 miles. According to this data, it can be inferred that our members are more inclined to take the short drive to fish the Kinni, the Rush and other Western Wisconsin streams than anywhere else.
When asked “If we were doing a 5-year review of TCTU in 2026, what are some things you’d like to say TCTU accomplished between 2021-2025?” Using the word cloud below to sample the most used words/phrases, the most commonly used phrases were: stream restoration, habitat restoration, and education. We can infer that our members care about the streams they fish and want to continue working to restore and protect them.
We appreciate the nearly 300 folks who took the time to respond to our survey! With this info the board is excited to prioritize the things that you do: conserving the cold water habitats that you love to fish, offering more educational opportunities for youth, and making our chapter meeting and events more accessible. To download all the response data, please click on the link below.