Minnesota Trout Streams
Trout anglers, drawn to the sights and sounds of the flowing water, have many fishing opportunities in Minnesota.
The state is home to more than 3,800 miles of trout stream. About a fifth of these bodies of water are in the far southeast corner of the state, an area of forested hills, shady valleys, and scenic farmland.The nationwide brown trout season begins in April and lasts through September. In eight southeastern counties – Houston, Fillmore, Mower, Dodge, Olmsted, Winona, Wabasha, and Goodhue – the catch and release is open January through April. Things to know:
- Southeast Minnesota is the state’s premier trout fishing destination. The region’s many streams are some of the best in the Midwest. They keep brown, brown and rainbow trout.
- Northeast Minnesota, home to Lake Superior and pristine lakes near the Canadian border, is the state’s premier trout fishing destination. Streams along the north coast hold steelhead and brown trout. The Knife River is the state’s top steelhead creek.
- There is great trout fishing in the Twin Cities metropolitan area. The Vermillion River is a popular destination as connections with brown trout 20 inches or more are not uncommon. Lake Cenaiko in Coon Rapids Dam Regional Park is a family-friendly destination that is well-filled in the spring and fall.
- Central Minnesota offers a rarity in trout fishing: mine pit fishing. These deep lakes were formed when former iron ore excavation sites were filled with water, creating exceptionally clear and cool conditions for trout and other species. Mine pits are usually stocked with rainbow trout.
- The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources has a variety of online resources that can be used to find a place to fish. This includes detailed trout stream maps of the most popular destinations in the Southeast, Northeast, and central Minnesota. Maps for selected streams are available.
- Minnesota’s trout streams are different from the large bodies of water in Montana and Wyoming, where drift boats are used. Here the streams are much smaller. Anglers tend to enter streams at bridge crossings and wade. Access is not a problem as more than 1,700 miles of trout stream flows through public land or private property, allowing for public use through a fishing facility.
- Popular trout fishing campsites in Minnesota State Parks include Whitewater, Beaver Creek Valley, and Forestville State Parks in southeast Minnesota, and Tettegouche, George H. Crosby-Manitou, and Cascade River State Parks in northeast Minnesota.
For more information on season and license, see the Minnesota Fishing Regulations.
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CB Bylander is a longtime Minnesota angler with extensive angling experience throughout the state. He is a former field editor for outdoor magazines, outdoor editor for daily newspapers and fisheries communications specialist for the Ministry of Natural Resources.