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Winter trout fishing to open for first time on 24 lakes

Anglers for the first time will be able to fish for trout in the winter on two dozen north-central Minnesota lakes, with a few in Hubbard County.

Trout fishing on these lakes, which contain stream trout, will be open starting today (Saturday), Jan. 17, through Tuesday, March 31. Stream trout are rainbow, brook and brown trout, and a hybrid of lake trout and brook trout called splake.

In Hubbard County, Blacksmith, Crappie and Newman lakes are now open for trout fishing. Blue Lake is also open for winter trout fishing and has been since 2008.

DNR Fisheries Supervisor Doug Kingsley said that those lakes might be hard to get to, however.

“They are kind of remote and the only way to get there is by forest or township roads with minimal maintenance,” he said.

Some of those roads actually become a designated snowmobile trail from Dec. 1 through April 1 and no other types of motorized vehicles are allowed on them.

People need to make sure to follow the designated use and either use a snowmobile with proper registration, or walk, although some of the lakes are quite a hike to get to, Kingsley said.

The definition of a snowmobile has changed and no longer includes ATVs modified with aftermarket ski and track kits.

If anglers snowmobile to these lakes, however, it is another opportunity to ice fish this season.

“These changes give anglers more opportunities to catch trout in the winter months,” said Al Stevens, fisheries program consultant with the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources. “We thought this would be a benefit to anglers with little risk of harming summer trout fishing.”

These lakes are not the only places to fish for trout in the winter. There are many trout lakes in northeastern Minnesota outside and inside the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness. And anglers can fish for stream trout in streams in eight southeastern Minnesota counties.

Details on all the seasons are at fishmn/trout.

The north-central Minnesota lakes have been open to trout fishing other times of year, but closed in winter since winter trout management began.

Additional lakes open for the winter trout angling in the area include:

Aitkin County: Blue, Loon (in Savannah Portage State Park) and Taylor lakes.

Becker County: Hanson Lake.

Beltrami County: Benjamin Lake.

Cass County: Diamond, Hazel, Margaret, Marion, Perch, and Teepee lakes.

Crow Wing County: Huntington (Feigh, Martin) Mine Lake, Mallen Mine Lake, Manuel Mine Lake, Pennington (Alstead, Arco, Mahnomen) Mine Lake, Portsmouth Mine Lake, Sagamore Mine Lake, Snoshoe Mine Lake, Section 6 Mine Lake, Strawberry, and Yawkey Mine Lake.

However, not all lakes in these counties will be open to winter trout fishing. Bad Medicine Lake in Becker County will remain closed for trout fishing but it is open for other species. The following trout lakes will remain closed in winter to all fishing:

Crow Wing County: Allen and Pleasant lakes.

Cass County: Little Andrus (aka: Snowshoe, near Outing).

Many of the lakes that are open are former pits used in mining, which have since filled with water and become fish habitat. Ice on these deep lakes sometimes takes longer to form than on other lakes.

“Ice anglers venturing out on these mine lakes should be extra cautious because mine lakes are much deeper, and therefore take longer to cool down in the fall, than natural lakes and ice is usually thinner than on other lakes,” Stevens said.

Since many of the lakes opening to winter fishing may have limited access, anglers should check access availability in advance.

Anglers are also reminded that fishing regulations differ on designated trout lakes. Anglers must possess a trout stamp to fish in designated trout lakes or to possess a trout taken from any lake or stream. Fishing hours are one hour before sunrise to 11 p.m. Anglers may only use one fishing line per angler, and no live minnows are allowed to be used as bait or as spearing decoys. Fishing is allowed only when the trout season is open.

For complete trout regulations see www.mndnr. gov/fishmn/trout.

Anna Erickson
Anna Erickson is editor of the Wadena Pioneer Journal.
(218) 631-2561