The Hinckley fisheries management area has a total of 25 designated trout streams. While many of these streams have marginal conditions for trout and do not currently support fishable populations, a few streams do have naturally reproducing brook trout and can provide limited fishing. Most of the streams are located north and east of Hinckley in Pine County; several others are in the St. Croix valley in Chisago County.
Fishing on these streams is quite different from fishing the streams of southeastern MN. Many of the streams are small in size, with low flows and soft water stained brown from peat in the headwater swamps. Generally the banks are overgrown with willow and alder, making fly fishing and casting difficult.
Access to these streams is limited; many of the streams flow through private land, with access only available at road crossings. Hay Creek and Little Hay Creek in Pine County are the most accessible streams. Portions of these streams are within St. Croix State Park, and there are several angling easements along the portion of Hay Creek outside of park boundaries. This map shows easement locations and State Park boundaries:
Sand Creek, located south and east of Bruno in Pine County, has several angling easements that have been purchased in recent years. In addition, an 80 acre parcel on Sand Creek was purchased by the Section of Fisheries in 2002 and designated an Aquatic Management Area. The AMA contains several springs that are critical in maintaining cool water flows in Sand Creek.
The main threat to trout habitat in these streams is the beaver. When beaver numbers were low due to trapping and habitat conditions, these streams and many others in Pine County supported higher numbers of brook trout. But in the last 30 years, beaver populations have increased greatly in Pine County. When beavers build dams on streams, stream channels and substrate are altered and water temperatures increase. Fish migration and spawning are also affected. These impacts have eliminated brook trout from many trout streams. When beavers are controlled and dams removed regularly, brook trout populations can be restored.
In order to complete any beaver control or habitat improvement on a stream, there must be angler access through public land or by angling easements on private land. The following link contains more information on the easement program:
Landowners who wish to help protect and improve coldwater stream habitat may find out more about the angling easement program by contacting the Hinckley Area Fisheries Office at 320-384-7721, or email the Area Fisheries Manager.