In the first of four stockings, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources stocked 1,500 rainbow trout Friday in St. Peter Trout Ponds on the eve of the state stream trout fishing opener.
Another 1,500 rainbows will be stocked in the week of April 16-20, followed by another 1,000 the week of April 30-May 1 and 1,000 the week of May 14-18. The total stocked will be 5,000.
The fish stocked Friday are good sized, ranging from 10 to 12 inches, Brandon Eder said while stocking the ponds.
“Most of them look on the high side,” said Eder, Minnesota Natural Resources assistant area supervisor, Waterville Area Fisheries. “They look pretty healthy. They’re bigger than last year for sure.”
The DNR also is stocking Seven-Mile Creek between St. Peter and Mankato with 300 adult brown trout the week of May 1. Those will be a little bigger than the rainbows.
“Last year there were fish up to a pound of half, 2 pounds maybe,” Eder said. “They’re pretty big fish.”
In his second year working in the Waterville Area and his 12th year overall with the DNR, Eder said, “Everybody I talked to at Seven-Mile said they caught fish right in the park. We stock them up where the road ends, and I think they disperse up and down. They really did a nice job of rehabbing that creek. There used to plenty of times in the summer where it would go dry.”
The DNR created more deeper pools for trout to survive and thrive. “That’s where they hang out,” Eder said.
“We used to stock fingerling fish, hoping that they would stay in Seven-Mile and just grow up there, but I don’t think it was working, so that’s why we switched to the adult fish. They’re more catchable.”
Eder said the beauty of St. Peter Trout Ponds, also know as Paul’s Creek, is that it is a unique fishery.
“There is no other opportunity in the area, except for Seven-Mile,” Eder said. “It’s a nice opportunity for for shore fishing, which we don’t have a whole lot of. Most lakes are highly developed. It’s a good place to bring kids, and the trout are tasty and pretty easy to catch. It’s a fun activity for the family or anybody who wants to come out.”
And the trout are very willing to bite on about anything.
“They’re used to being feed, so just about anything that splashes in the water, they’re going to go after,” Eder said.
He recommends nightcrawlers or marshmallows.
“After a few days, they’ll start to chase shiny things like small crankbaits, little Mepps spinners,” Eder said. “Anything that makes a flash, they’ll attack. Most people will throw crawlers on the bottom or even marshmallows.”
All the trout stocked in southern Minnesota comes from the DNR hatchery in Lanesboro where they raise rainbows and brout trout.
One other trout stream in the Waterville Area is Rice Creek near Dundas. It is a self-sustaining brook trout stream that is not stocked.
“It’s a really cool little stream,” Eder said. “I talked to some people last year, and they said they’ve been catching quite a few brookies. We sampled up to a 13-inch brook trout. Most of them are pretty small, but there’s a lot of trout in that stream.”