Anglers, turkey hunters enjoy perfect weather

Reports from southeast Minnesota on the trout opener and the first weekend of the turkey season keep coming in, and the consensus is that a good time was had by just about everyone.

• Mauer Brothers in Elba: "We were packed in here, it was very busy," said Michelle Heaser. Besides trout anglers, they also had turkey hunters and some motorcyclists stop in.

One trout, a 3-pound, 8-ounce brown, was entered in the tavern's annual big-fish contest. It was caught by Shawn Peterson of Altura who was fishing with a Rapala on the Main Branch of the Whitewater River.

• National Trout Center, Preston: 'Everybody talked about how the number of people who were out," said center educator Rich Enochs. "There were a lot of people out fishing, and most people caught fish. I didn't hear any complaints."

One problem with so many people and clear streams is fish often got spooked by all the noise and motion, he said. But still, "I didn't hear any negatives."


Enochs added that the caddis hatch has been great on both the Root and Whitewater systems.

• When I drove mid-afternoon Saturday along the Root between Rushford and Lanesboro, I was surprised to so many people still out fishing. The weather surely played a huge part in it.

From Department of Natural Resources conservation officers:

• Kevin Prodzinski of Wabasha "reports working a very busy opening weekend of the 2016 trout season as well as the opening of the first turkey season. Hunters were finding some birds cooperating and some still in large groups. The trout fishermen had a fantastic opener and many limits were checked. The big river was also extremely busy as the water warms up and the bite improves."

• Tom Hemker of Winona: "reports a very busy weekend with heavy trout fishing pressure. Both turkey hunters and trout fishermen had good success."

• Mitch Boyum of Rushford: "reports having a busy trout opener. Success was good and the good weather kept anglers out. Most folks had multiple trout in the bag and added fishing was good."

• Tyler Quandt of Red Wing: "The trout opener was very busy with many anglers taking advantage of the nice weather. Most trout anglers reported slow going but a few anglers were checked who had limits of fish. Success on the river continues to be slow but angling pressure remains high.

* Joel Heyn of Plainview: "worked mainly anglers and turkey hunters during the week. Turkey hunters had mixed success. Lots of people were out over the weekend with the nice weather. Most anglers had trout with limits and overlimits seen taken."


What makes a good trout stream:

Streams that hold trout are usually an indicator of healthy water quality and responsible land use. Trout require fairly consistent stream temperatures year-round – cold water in the summer and water that doesn’t freeze in the winter. In Minnesota, this comes from groundwater inflow since we don’t have mountain snowpack like some Western streams.

Good trout streams also tend to be relatively clear and free of excess sediment. When stream banks become eroded, trout eggs can become covered in silt, water quality suffers and aquatic insects that trout feed on may decline. Deep-rooted grasses alongside streams help to stabilize the banks, prevent erosion and filter out sediment from the surrounding land.

Trout streams also benefit from stable flows. That means they need groundwater to maintain flow during dry periods and over the winter – and a natural floodplain that can disperse large amounts of water during heavy rain events.

Lastly, streams with good aquatic habitat will support more trout. This includes deep pools, riffles and cover such as vegetation, wood and undercut banks. Pools provide places for trout to rest, riffles cool and oxygenate the water, and cover adds diverse places to hide or feed. Together, these elements provide the living space for all life stages of trout throughout the year.

Mark Nemeth, DNR trout stream habitat specialist

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