Today we welcome the dawn of the 2019 stream trout season throughout Minnesota’s Driftless Region. While winter-hardy fishers have enjoyed the catch-and-release fishing in SE Minnesota since the beginning of the New Year, the traditional mid-April “catch-and-maybe-keep” season remains a calendar entry for a significant number of trout fishers across the upper midwest.
The National Trout Center in Preston will be open today although we have post-poned our “official opening” for 2 weeks to honor the 100th Anniversary of Whitewater State Park. The traditional season opener has often presented weather and water conditions that would challenge the hardiest anglers, but this year, we can proclaim most of our streams fishable with all manner of trout fishing gear, from “garden hackles” through plugs, spinners and the tiniest nymphs and flies. Water clarity exceeds a meter in most of the Root River watershed, and stream flows are at typical early-summer levels (less than 250 cfs).
The notable feature affecting trout fishing this weekend is water temperature. The major storm enveloping the midwest this past week brought cold temperatures that prevented rapid surface runoff. Instead of heavy rain, we had snow and ice and overnight freezing that retarded surface drainage to levels below those expected with significant precipitation. The Carimona hydrograph below describes the recent flows in the South Branch of the Root River upstream of Preston.
The blue line describes the runoff rate and clearly identifies the rapid runoff of “warm precipitation” events over the past two weeks. Temperature changes due to the arrival of the midwestern blizzard are also clear beginning with April 10. The purple line shows water temperature fluctuations responding to daily air temperatures. With water temperatures below 45°F, fish feeding activity and insect activity are likely to be comparable to those experienced during the winter fishery.
BUT, with all the technology, experience, and forecast models, who among us can predict what will happen on any fishing excursion?