Winona County

Rush Creek

Species Present: Brown trout, brook trout, rainbow trout, white sucker, American brook lamprey, creek chub, northern hog sucker, golden redhorse, shorthead redhorse, brook stickleback, green sunfish, sculpin spp., longnose dace, blacknose dace, quillback, and Johnny darter

Management Plan: The management plan for Rush Creek is currently being updated (2011). Rush Creek is stocked with brown trout fingerlings (43,000) every other year in the reach from I-90 downstream to the mouth of Ferguson Creek. Rainbow trout yearlings are stocked in Rush Creek in the area nearest to the town of Rushford throughout the summer. Total trout biomass typically ranges from 30 lbs/acre in the most downstream areas to above 250 lbs/acre in the latest habitat improvement project at Wunderlich’s. Estimated numbers of brown trout >12 inches/mile ranges from 65 to >230 in the same areas.

Comments: In Surber’s first investigation in the summer of 1920 he mentioned seeing large brown trout and that the stream provided good fishing for the locals. This was not the case in many of the area streams were Surber observed few if any trout. There are records of the first brook trout stockings in Rush Creek in 1878.

Pine Creek

Species Present: Brown trout, brook trout, white sucker, northern hog sucker, creek chub, longnose dace, blacknose dace, fantail darter, slimy sculpin, mottled sculpin, and brook stickleback

Management Plan: Typical brown trout biomass in Pine Creek is around 100 lbs/acre with areas of >200 lbs/acre occurring with better instream habitat. Areas in the headwaters tend to have warmer water temperatures as a number of springs contribute to Pine Creek throughout its length. During the latest stream assessments estimated numbers of brown trout >12 inches were generally around 100/mile with some areas >250/mile. Brook trout are routinely sampled throughout the system however areas with the greatest concentrations tend to be around the mouths of Coolridge Creek, Hemmingway Creek and Voelker Brook.

Comments: Pine Creek has a series of habitat improvement projects slated for 2012 and beyond. These projects will involve areas downstream of the state forest parking lot to the mouth on Rush Creek. During recent fisheries research involving Hemmingway and Coolridge creeks it was found that slimy sculpin typically appear just into these two streams while mottled sculpin dominate the slightly warmer and bigger water of Pine Creek. No interbreeding was noted via genetic samples.

Hemmingway Creek

Species Present: Brown trout, brook trout, American brook lamprey, white sucker, creek chub, blacknose dace, longnose dace, slimy sculpin, and brook stickleback

Management Plan: Management of Hemmingway Creek emphasizes brook trout as the primary species. This stream, along with Coolridge Creek, is part of an intensive fisheries research project attempting to answer some of the questions regarding brown and brook trout interactions. Once this work is completed the management plan will be updated to emphasize the research findings. This stream most likely serves as an important coldwater source and as a spawning area from brown trout for Pine Creek. Stocking has occurred in only two occasions (1975 and 1979) and this creek remains a wild trout fishery today. Much of the riparian zone is in state forest which contributes to the relatively good water quality and stream temperatures. When exceptionally large year classes of trout are produced, growth rates of both brown and brook trout have been poor.

Comments: An adventure up into this valley will soon not be forgotten. Access can be difficult but is most easily obtained by walking up the state angling easement on Pine Creek from the state forest parking lot.

Coolridge Creek

Species Present: Brown trout, brook trout, creek chub, blacknose dace, longnose dace, central stoneroller, slimy sculpin, white sucker, and brook stickleback

Management Plan: Management of Coolridge Creek emphasizes brook trout as the primary species. This stream, along with Hemmingway Creek, is part of an intensive fisheries research project examining the interactions between brown and brook trout. This stream is very similar to Hemmingway Creek in many respects. Total stream length is somewhat shorter (1.23 miles) than Hemmingway Creek (2.19 miles) and total discharge is less. Coolridge Creek has never been stocked. Brook trout from this stream were used as brood stock at Crystal Springs State Fish Hatchery to develop a brook trout strain for stocking across southeast Minnesota.

Comments: The headwaters of Coolridge Creek are within an aquatic management area. Before state purchase this area used to be a private hatchery. This area is excellent for observing the May warbler migration. Acadian flycatchers and cerulean warblers have both been observed in this area.

Ahrensfeld Creek

Species Present: Brown trout, brook trout, white sucker, creek chub and brook stickleback

Management Plan: This stream is managed as a wild trout fishery. No stocking has ever occurred and no habitat improvements have been made. In 1988, only one brown trout was collected in stations assessing the trout population. By 1998, total trout biomass had increased to 63 lbs/acre. In 2003, total trout biomass had again increased and was as high as 194 lbs/acre in one station. Today brown trout numbers are still on the increase with a range of 160 to 290 lbs/acre of total trout biomass. Estimated numbers of brown trout >12 inches ranged from 40/mile to 91/mile during assessments in 2011.

Comments: Ahrensfeld Creek has a history of variable flows. The stream disappears underground in several locations and routine flash flooding changes these areas. State angling easements have been purchased on approximately 2 miles of the streams 3.61 mile length.

Ferguson Creek

Species Present: Brown trout, brook trout, slimy sculpin, white sucker and brook stickleback

Management Plan: Much of Ferguson Creek is under state angling easement. Brook trout are most abundant in the headwaters (upstream most 0.50 miles). The only documentation of stocking in Ferguson Creek was in 1953 with 110 brook trout fingerlings and in 1973 with 312 brook trout fingerlings. It is unknown when the brown trout were naturalized in this creek. A habitat improvement project was completed in 1989 in the downstream most area. Typical brown trout total biomass in the downstream reach is around 175 lbs/acre with approximately 50 to 75 brown trout >12 inches/mile.

Comments: The walk into this valley is a long one from the parking lot on Rush Creek at Wunderlich’s. Anglers must cross Rush Creek to get into the valley from this parking lot. The watershed is fairly steep and short. Beaver dams are a common occurrence and year classes of trout can be completely wiped out with severe flash flooding during March/April.

Money Creek

Species Present: Brown trout, white sucker, longnose dace, blacknose dace, central stoneroller, creek chub, hornyhead chub, bluntnose minnow, fathead minnow, suckermouth minnow, common shiner, sand shiner, bigmouth shiner, spotfin shiner, logperch, black bullhead, brook stickleback, Johnny darter and fantail darter

Management Plan: Trout populations are highly variable in Money Creek mostly because of the extremely poor land-use practices in downstream areas. The headwaters are in relatively good condition. The downstream reaches are considered warm water with water temperatures routinely exceeding 70° F. The first stocking of brown trout in this stream was in 1946 (855 brown trout yearlings). Brook trout fry were stocked in 1984-1985 in an attempt to establish a reproducing population. No brook trout were sampled in recent surveys. Stocking of any trout has now been discontinued because of limited success and lack of access for anglers. Natural reproduction by brown trout is somewhat successful in the upstream most areas and these fish most likely originate from tributaries. Poor habitat and water quality appear to limit trout abundance in the downstream reaches of the stream.

Comments: Several state angling easements have been purchased in the headwaters.

West Branch Money Creek

Species Present: Brown trout, brook trout, white sucker, creek chub, blacknose dace, longnose dace, common shiner, bigmouth shiner, bluntnose minnow, fathead minnow, central stoneroller, Johnny darter, fantail darter, and brook stickleback

Management Plan: Brown trout are no longer stocked in West Branch Monday Creek due to annual natural reproduction checks during 1997-2001 indicating consistent production of wild brown trout. Severe bank erosion from intensive cattle grazing continues in the headwaters and is a major source of pollution. Abundance of brown trout > 12 inches ranged from 107 to 160/mile in assessment up the valley in 2006. Total brown trout biomass in these same stations ranged from 140 to 167 lbs/acre. Total brown trout biomass was very poor in the most downstream areas where habitat and sand/silt substrates provide little for trout.

Comments: The best trout water on West Branch Money Creek is half way up the valley in state angling easements. Numerous sheep, cattle and horses can be seen on this farm with a number of live stock guard dogs. Anglers should always stay within the trout stream angling easement corridor (132 ft centered on the stream).

Pine Creek (New Harford)

Species Present: Brown trout, brook trout, white sucker, common carp, creek chub, blacknose dace, longnose dace, emerald shiner, common shiner, bigmouth shiner, brassy minnows, bluntnose minnow, fathead minnow, central stoneroller, black bullhead, yellow bullhead, green sunfish and brook stickleback

Management Plan: This stream was originally surveyed in 1946 (Nettleton). One station on this stream is in our long-term monitoring program and sampled annually each fall. Lack of public access is a problem on Pine Creek as there is only one small state angling easement on the stream. Stocking of brown trout fingerlings was discontinued in 2008 due to natural reproduction checks during 200 to 2004 indicating consistent production of wild brown and brook trout. A recent assessment in the long-term monitoring station (2010) indicated total brown trout biomass was 157 lbs/acre while total brook trout biomass was only 25 lbs/acre. Estimated numbers of brown trout >12 inches was 70/mile.

Comments: Plans for additional state angling easement acquisition are in the works. This stream has the potential to produce large brown trout and an excellent brook trout population in the headwaters. Some impressive insect hatches have also been observed.

Middle Branch Whitewater River

Species Present: Brown trout, brook trout, white sucker, mottled sculpin, slimy sculpin and longnose dace

Management Plan: The Middle Branch Whitewater is also part of the long-term monitoring program with a single assessment station sampled in the fall downstream of County 9 access. Total brown trout biomass in this station during a recent assessment was 216 lbs/acre with an estimated brown trout population of those >12 inches at 147/mile. Brook trout biomass was 34 lbs/acre with numerous brook trout >10 inches. Much of this stream is under state angling easement. Habitat improvement projects have been completed throughout the stream. Brook trout fingerlings (7,500) are stocked in even years in the Crow Springs area. Brown trout are also stocked at 18,000 fingerlings each year from Quincy Bridge downstream. Rainbow trout yearlings (4,500) are stocked from the Whitewater State Park group camp downstream through the park.

Comments: Crow Springs is more commonly used to name this stream by anglers and in reality this nomenclature is correct. Crow Springs joins the Middle Branch Whitewater upstream of Quincy Bridge where the Middle Branch continues on to Whitewater State Park. The long-term monitoring station mentioned above is on Crow Springs.

Trout Run Creek (Whitewater watershed)

Species Present: Brown trout, brook trout, white sucker, mottled sculpin, blacknose dace, longnose dace, creek chub, green sunfish, and brook stickleback

Management Plan: When Trout Run Creek was surveyed in 1957 it was reported that springs were “too many to mention or locate”. Brown trout fingerling abundance is usually very high indicating Trout Run’s probable importance as a spawning/nursery area for the adjacent Middle Branch Whitewater River. Adult trout cover, especially deep pools, may be limiting. When last assessed (2003) the total brown trout biomass in Trout Run Creek ranged from 51 to 314 lbs/acre. Estimated numbers of brown trout >12 inches was around 100/mile.

Comments: Trout Run Creek is within the boundaries of Whitewater State Park and because of this the stream has a walking path along part of its length.

North Branch Whitewater River

Species Present: Brown trout, rainbow trout, white sucker, longnose dace, blacknose dace, creek chub, bigmouth shiner, brassy minnow, fathead minnow, emerald shiner, central stoneroller, American brook lamprey, Johnny darter, fantail darter, logperch, slimy sculpin, mottled sculpin, central mudminnow, common carp, black bullhead, green sunfish, pumpkinseed, shorthead redhorse, silver redhorse, white bass and brook stickleback

Management Plan: In the survey in 1946 it was stated that upstream of the mouth of Logan Creek on the North Branch Whitewater River, “considerable domestic pollution, creamery wastes, and canning factory discharge prevent use of the stream by fish”. This is no longer the case to say the least. Total trout biomass in a long-term monitoring station upstream of Fairwater was 146 lbs/acre in a recent assessment. Estimated numbers of brown trout >12 inches was 261/mile in this same station. The North Branch Whitewater is stocked with 4,000 rainbow yearlings each year.

Comments: This stream provides large expanses of water for the angler to fish. One can spend a week fishing this stream and not fish the same water twice. Most of the stream is within Whitewater Wildlife Management Area.

Beaver Creek (Whitewater watershed)

Species Present: Brown trout, brook trout, white sucker, slimy sculpin, and brook stickleback

Management Plan: Beaver Creek is part of our Long-Term Monitoring program in southeast Minnesota. Several special regulations for Beaver Creek have been proposed in the management plan but failed to be implemented and in any case would not likely improve the trout population. Floods and heavy fishing pressure was considered to be a problem and limiting trout populations in an early creel in 1957. Twenty five tributaries have been identified in past surveys. Brook trout were first stocked in 1911 in the stream. Current estimates of brown trout population size are 214 lbs/acre with 3,000 plus total brown trout. During the last assessment in 2010 estimated numbers of brown trout >12 inches was 54/mile. No brook trout were collected.

Comments: Before the state purchased much of Beaver Creek the landowner charged 25 cents to access the stream through his property. This was during the first full survey completed in 1946. Beaver activity has been mentioned in all surveys since that time and most likely limiting to the trout population.

Whitewater River

Species Present: American brook lamprey, gizzard shad, mooneye, brown trout, brook trout, rainbow trout, central mudminnow, northern pike, central stoneroller, common carp, brassy minnow, golden shiner, emerald shiner, common shiner, bigmouth shiner, spotfin shiner, sand shiner, fathead minnow, blacknose dace, longnose dace, creek chub, quillback, white sucker, northern hog sucker, silver redhorse, golden redhorse, shorthead redhorse, greater redhorse, black bullhead, channel catfish, burbot, brook stickleback, white bass, rock bass, green sunfish, pumpkinseed, bluegill, largemouth bass, mud darter, Iowa darter, fantail darter, Johnny darter, logperch, blackside darter, sauger, walleye, freshwater drum, mottled sculpin, and slimy sculpin.

Management Plan: The first full survey of Whitewater River occurred in 1946. During this time substrates were described as shifting sand as they are today. In the 1976 survey stream water temperatures were suitable for brown trout in the entire stream however habitat and sand substrates limited food production and reproduction of trout. Many warmwater fish species migrate in and out of the Whitewater River from the Mississippi as can be seen above. The latest assessments, conducted in 1994, indicated a relatively low density brown trout population of around 270/mile. This same area is stocked with rainbow trout yearlings (7,000) annually. Areas of the Whitewater River routinely produce some very large brown trout in the 24-26 inch range.

Comments: Sampling fish in this size of river is made difficult because of the current and deep holes. Traditional southeast Minnesota sampling equipment (backpack and barge shockers) must be set aside to perform most of the sampling via a boom shocker (boat) as is traditional used in lakes. More than a mile of this stream was channelized in 1957 to provide waterfowl habitat (Dorer pools). In 1999, a new 0.5 miles of stream was restored to return the river to its historical channel. In the late 1980’s, the Whitewater Watershed Project was initiated due to concerns about flooding and the contribution of sediment load from the Whitewater River into Weaver Bottoms, Mississippi River. This project involves citizen and landowner participation in land use initiatives to improve natural resources in the watershed.

South Branch Whitewater River

Species Present: Brown trout, brook trout, rainbow trout, blacknose dace, longnose dace, slimy sculpin, brook, stickleback, American brook lamprey, creek chub, central stoneroller, white sucker, fantail darter, Johnny darter, black bullhead, burbot, common carp, bluntnose minnow, fathead minnow, bigmouth shiner, common shiner, emerald shiner, silver redhorse, shorthead redhorse, green sunfish, and white bass.

Management Plan: The first full survey was conducted in 1947. Estimated brown trout biomass at that time was 16.1 lbs/acre. During the full survey in 1976 the estimated brown trout biomass was 40-45 lbs/acre. Sixteen tributaries were noted in the 1976 survey and 1995 tributary survey, four times the number identified in 1957. An angling regulation consisting of a 10 inch maximum length for brown trout was implemented on a one mile stream reach in 1985. Although angler catch rates increased, the regulation was discontinued as the goal of the regulation, to increase the abundance of brown trout >12 inches, was not achieved. Current brown trout population metrics from our long-term monitoring station on the South Branch Whitewater include a total brown trout biomass of 170 lbs/acre with 350 brown trout >12 inches/mile. The South Branch is also stocked with 2,000 rainbow trout yearling annually.

Comments: The South Branch Whitewater has been intensively studied. Several graduate students from University of Minnesota and Winona State University have conducted research here. Our long-term monitoring station in Kreidermacher’s pasture is sampled every spring.

Trout Valley Creek

Species Present: Brown trout, brook trout, central mudminnow, northern pike, American brook lamprey, central stoneroller, common carp, brassy minnow, river shiner, bigmouth shiner, pugnose minnow, fathead minnow, blacknose dace, longnose dace, creek chub, white sucker, green sunfish and brook stickleback

Management Plan: The first full survey was conducted in 1947. Stream temperatures during warm weather limited the trout population as between 69-74° F. This was similar to the limiting temperatures taken in the 1977 survey that were between 49-80° F. Land use has changed considerably in this valley from almost entirely agricultural to wooded forest. Brook trout were stocked from Spring Brook (Rice County) in 1982. Stream temperatures during the 1987-88 survey had improved (59-70° F). Brook trout have been sampled >14 inches in this stream. Limiting factors included chemicals and animal waste from farm ground in the valley. Also temperature extremes in downstream areas probably limit trout production. Habitat improvement directed toward brook trout is in future plans. Current total brook trout biomass in our long-term monitoring station on Trout Valley Creek is 101 lbs/acre with 17 brook trout >10inches/mile. The brown trout population is much smaller and anglers are encouraged to harvest a limit of brown trout whenever possible to limit the competitive effects on the brook trout population.

Comments: Natural reproduction of brook trout is currently sufficient to maintain the population. Trout Valley Creek currently is managed using a 12 inch minimum for brook trout (bag limit 1, artificial lures and flies only).

Garvin Brook

Species Present: Brown trout, rainbow trout, brook trout, northern pike, central stoneroller, river shine, bigmouth shiner, emerald shiner, sand shiner, spotfin shiner, bluntnose minnow, fathead minnow, blacknose dace, longnose dace, creek chub, white sucker, golden redhorse, shorthead redhorse, brook stickleback, Johnny darter, sauger, freshwater drum, mottled sculpin, and slimy sculpin.

Management Plan: Garvin Brook is broken into four areas for fisheries management. The area upstream of Stockton Dam is most important and provides the best stream temperatures and trout habitat. Annual stocking of brown trout upstream from Stockton Dam was discontinued in 1977 and populations of brown and brook trout have been increasing since. Overall, Garvin Brook would benefit from improved agricultural practices within the watershed and an increased riparian buffer along the stream corridor. Currently total brown trout biomass in our long-term monitoring station is 147 lbs/acre with 67 brown trout >12 inches/mile. Brook trout biomass is minimal but a number of brook trout >10 inches have been sampled throughout the headwaters and in the long-term monitoring station further downstream.

Comments: Habitat improvements were completed in 19983, 1984, 1988, 1989, 1992, and 1993. Much of this work was destroyed in the flood of August 18 & 19, 2007. A 12-16 inch protected slot (artificial lures and flies only) was implemented in 2005 on much of the water upstream from Stockton Dam.

East Burns Valley Creek

Species Present: Brown trout, brook trout, longnose dace, white sucker, blacknose dace, pumpkinseed, green sunfish, and largemouth bass

Management Plan: Burns Valley Creek was first surveyed in 1946. Other surveys were completed in 1959 and 1975. During assessments and management plan updates in 2009 the brown trout biomass ranged from 29 to 168 lbs/acre with 0 to 70 brown trout >12 inches/mile. Brook trout numbers are limited with the greatest abundance in the headwaters. Natural reproduction seems to be maintaining these two populations and that is why stocking was discontinued in 1976.

Comments: Increasing development in the valley will continue to threaten the integrity of this trout stream. Because of the lack of state angling easements this stream is not regularly monitored via electrofishing assessments.

Cedar Valley Creek

Species Present: Brown trout, white sucker, longnose dace, blacknose dace, bullhead minnow, creek chub, central mudminnow, and brook stickleback

Management Plan: Brown trout abundance has increased substantially since 1975 and 1989-1990 estimates. There are 26 documented springs and tributaries on Cedar Valley Creek. Trout habitat improves in an upstream direction though total brown trout biomass was relatively low during the last assessment in 1998 (10-26 lbs/acre).

Comments: Limited access is available in two state angling easements on Cedar Valley Creek.

Pickwick Creek

Species Present: Brown trout, rainbow trout, brook trout, northern pike, white sucker, central mudminnow, common carp, creek chub, blacknose dace, longnose dace, bigmouth shiner, sand shiner, fathead minnow, central stoneroller, largemouth bass, and brook stickleback

Management Plan: Several habitat improvement projects have been completed on Pickwick Creek. Trout population information from these areas indicates increased numbers of brown trout recruits (>age 1) and brown trout >12 inches/mile. In the most recent habitat improvement project, there was an estimated 398 lbs/acre of total brown trout with 94 brown trout >12 inches/mile. Management of the headwaters of Pickwick has changed from brown trout to brook trout with a reintroduction stocking of 9,000 brook trout fingerlings (Minnesota Wild strain) starting in 2008. A population assessment will be completed in 2012 to evaluate the success of this reintroduction.

Comments: Pickwick Creek has also received a reintroduction stocking of slimy sculpin. This was part of several research projects involving students from the University of Minnesota.

Little Pickwick Creek

Species Present: Brown trout, brook trout, white sucker and brook stickleback

Management Plan: Little Pickwick was first surveyed by Nettleton in 1946. Multiple resurveys have been conducted since then. The 1946 survey described the valley as “intensively pastured and cultivated”. The surrounding hills were described as “thinly forested”. This is not the case today. Little Pickwick Creek sits in a small valley that is mostly heavily wooded. After a 1977 resurvey trout stream management was recommended and today Little Pickwick Creek supports a nice population of brown and brook trout. Habitat improvements have taken place on the majority of the state angling easements (MNDNR and Win-Cres Chapter Trout Unlimited). Generally less than 10% of the brown trout are >12 inches in length.

Comments: Little Pickwick Creek has also been part of a slimy sculpin reintroduction project involving several graduate students from the University of Minnesota. A population assessment will be conducted in 2013 to evaluate the slimy sculpin and trout population.