Talan Medgaarden, of Austin, holds a rainbow trout he caught July 6, 2020, in Wolf Creek at Austin’s Todd Park. He was one of dozens of anglers who fished at Todd Park this season for the new rainbow trout fishery established by Cedar River Watershed District and the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources’ fisheries division out of Waterville.

Trout harvest season in Austin ending

Monday last day for catch-and-take for rainbows in Wolf Creek

Sept. 11, 2020 — Anglers have until Monday to reel in a rainbow trout at Austin’s Todd Park if they want to keep it for a meal.

Monday, Sept. 14, is the last day of the trout-harvesting season in southeast Minnesota, which includes Mower, Houston, Fillmore, Dodge, Olmsted, Winona, Wabasha and Goodhue counties.

One of Wolf Creek’s rainbow trout this season. Photo by John Garry.

This will conclude the first harvesting season for the state’s new rainbow trout fishery — a “put-and-take” program — in Wolf Creek, which flows through Todd Park to the Cedar River. The creek received 900 rainbow trout this spring in Todd Park from the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources’ fisheries division in Waterville, which has encouraged the public to harvest the stocked rainbow trout.

MN DNR staff stock rainbow trout in May 2020 at Todd Park’s spring-fed pond that flows into Wolf Creek.

On Tuesday, Sept. 15, the southeast Minnesota counties’ streams will move to only catch-and-release for trout through Oct. 15. That season then will close until catch-and-release reopens Jan. 1 through April 16 followed by the trout opener.

James Fett, Cedar River Watershed District’s watershed technician who proposed the idea to the DNR to stock trout in Wolf Creek after he measured the creek’s temperature for a few years, is pleased with the results of the first year.

“We’re really happy to see that there was a great turnout for trout anglers,” said Fett, who caught several rainbows himself in Wolf during the April 18 opener with his wife, Pam. “It’s a huge success to have heard reports of trout being harvested throughout the month of July when Wolf Creek is at its warmest and continue hearing from people seeing them.”

CRWD’S James Fett, who proposed stocking trout in Wolf Creek to the MN DNR, holds one of the rainbows caught by him and his wife, Pam, during the April 2020 trout opener in Austin’s Todd Park.

Several healthy looking rainbow trout were seen in Wolf Creek as recently as last weekend by an angler, who didn’t catch any because they seemed easily spooked in the creek’s low water.

Other reports to CRWD have included people catching rainbows while fishing the Cedar River in the stretch from the Interstate 90 bridges upstream to the Mapleview area. Wolf flows into that stretch of the Cedar, where the forest provides good shade and springs feed cold water into it, which help rainbow trout.

CRWD has received dozens of photos this year from the public of trout fishing at Todd Park. Any negative feedback from the public mostly has related to the opinion by some that Wolf Creek has been “over-fished,” which is proof that the DNR’s new fishery was highly popular, said Tim Ruzek, CRWD outreach coordinator.

Mike Tindal, of Austin, holds up a rainbow trout while fishing Wolf Creek this spring with his son.
Christopher Fomby, of Austin, holds a rainbow trout in spring 2020 along Wolf Creek in Todd Park.

This past spring, CRWD staff had planned to do a trout event for the public at Todd Park — Austin’s largest park that offers nearly 9,000 feet of public shoreline along Wolf Creek. Those plans were nixed due to the Covid-19 pandemic, Ruzek said, adding that he hopes there will be an opportunity for a trout-fishing kickoff event in 2021.

Craig Soupir, the DNR’s Waterville area fisheries supervisor, has said anglers can anticipate a similar opportunity at Wolf Creek next year. Rainbow trout destined for Wolf Creek already are in the production schedule at the Lanesboro State Fish Hatchery, with plans in place for stocking Wolf again during spring 2021.

Wolf Creek is the only stream in Mower County stocked for trout by the DNR. Todd Park was stocked with young trout by the DNR more than 30 years ago but that stopped in the late 1980s due to predator fish, such as bass and northern pike.

Rainbow trout stocked this past spring are a “catchable” size, making them great for the DNR’s goal of a “put-and-take” fishery in Wolf Creek and keeping the trout too large for predator fish to eat.

Wolf Creek’s water temperatures through Todd Park are conducive to trout in large part thanks to an artesian well — the pond in the park — that feeds the stream. Even on the warmest days of the year, the creek’s temperature rarely exceeds 65 degrees, resulting in a suitable, low-stress environment for trout.

CRWD and the DNR still would like to see photos and hear feedback from the public on the Wolf Creek trout fishery’s first season. Images and comments can be sent by email to: tim@mowerdistrict.org or posting on CRWD’s Facebook page at www.facebook.com/cedarriverwd.

CRWD’s drone captures an aerial view of Wolf Creek in May 2020 as it flows through Todd Park in northeast Austin.

Formed in 2007, CRWD works to reduce flooding and improve water quality on the Cedar River State Water Trail and its tributaries in southern Minnesota.

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