Late season trout fishing may be coming to Rushford

By : 
CHAD SMITH
TRI-COUNTY RECORD

Trout fishermen looking to break the midwinter blues might get that chance this year, right in the city of Rushford.

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) is considering the opening of a late-season catch-and-release fishing on Rush Creek, and will hold a public meeting gather public input this week. The meeting is scheduled for  Thursday, Sept. 20, at the Rushford City Hall, between 4-6 p.m.

“Over the last several years, we at the DNR have tried to improve the number of opportunities for anglers in southeastern Minnesota,” said Ron Benjamin, DNR Lanesboro Area Fisheries Supervisor. “One of the ways we do that is to try and expand the season through the normal winter closure, which is Oct. 16 through Dec. 31.

“Most of the in-season trout fishing takes place on either private land or land that’s being hunted for deer,” he said. “There’s a lot of controversy over that. Several years ago, we opened the state parks to that late season because we had a little more control there. Now, we’ve opened the villages because, of course, you can’t hunt in the villages, so it’s not a problem there.”

Last year, the DNR opened up late-season fishing in Chatfield, Preston, Spring Valley, and Lanesboro. The City of Rushford recently sent in a petition to the DNR asking for the same late-season fishing opportunity. Now, they’re in the process of opening up the stretch of Rush Creek within the Rushford city limits.

“What happens then is, when the season normally closes around the state, it would continue to be open during that period for catch-and-release fishing,” Benjamin said. “In order to do these special regulations, we have to have a meeting to explain the idea to the public and hear any concerns they might have. It’s interesting because, in the past, we’ve never heard any concerns.”

Benjamin said poor, or no, attendance at such meetings isn’t unusual because few people are opposed to the opportunity.  However, he encouraged anyone who s can’t make the meeting wants to provide input or questions to email or call him within within ten days of the meeting (Deadline is Monday, Oct. 8).

“Last year was the first year we did the late-season trout fishing,” Benjamin said. “We had a lot of people take part in it. After we put the late season in place in state parks, one of the managers called the DNR after the regular fishing season closed. He came into his park and was dumbfounded that the whole parking lot was full. He found out later that they were all trout fishermen because it’s the only place they could fish.

“We’re trying to spread the fishing pressure out by opening up the villages,” Benjamin added. “We don’t want people feeling like they’re fishing shoulder-to-shoulder with somebody. It also benefits each municipality. People tend to fish for a few hours and then hit the coffee shops or restaurants, which benefits the communities.”

If anglers can’t make the meeting, they can call the DNR Area Fisheries Office at 507-467-2442, or e-mail Ron Benjamin at lanesboro.fisheries@state.mn.us.