When stream trout season opens on April 15, Minnesota anglers likely will encounter a variety of conditions ranging from balmy weather and quiet streams in the south to frosty days and high water rivers in the north.
Where one goes depends upon what kind of experience you desire.
Trout anglers that choose to go northward to the streams of the Arrowhead Region above Lake Superior can count on some of the most gorgeous streamside scenery in the world. The most sought after fish of this region are native brook trout with deep green sides speckled with red and blue spots -- believed by many to be the most beautiful of all freshwater fish.
In the southeastern part of Minnesota, streams flow from limestone bluffs and meander through forested valleys and farm land. The scenery may not rival that of northern Minnesota, but it can be just as satisfying to the understanding trout angler. Brown trout are the most common trout in these rivers. Brook trout and rainbows are also present but not as common.
When one takes all into consideration -- scenery, fish species, and fishing opportunities -- the best region to fish becomes a case of personal taste. But if the main issue is the number of fish caught on opening day, the southern part of Minnesota begins to become a better choice.
The most common spoiler of opening day trout fishing is cold, high water. In these conditions, trout seem to hunker down behind the thickest cover and stop eating all together. This is a common opening day scenario faced by northern Minnesota anglers in mid-April.
Southern Minnesota can be quite a different story. Snow melt is gone and streams are typically stable and clear. The water temperature is up near a level where trout are active. This also creates an opportunity for possible insect hatches.
Just two years ago on a particularly balmy opening day, there were several hatches of caddis flies during the day and evening. We had wonderful dry fly fishing while some anglers up north were attempting to drift worms in runoff-swollen streams.
Northern Minnesota will always provide the most vivid trout fishing experiences if one values wilderness fishing and native brook trout. But in April, it is not often the best choice.
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