Sauk Rapids Area Fisheries


Sauk Rapids area fisheries

Office address

Map of Sauk Rapids work area

1035 South Benton Drive
Sauk Rapids, MN 56379

Minnesota map showing Sauk Rapids location

Anglers who fish in Sherburne, Stearns and Wright counties benefit from the management, habitat and oversight work of the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources' Sauk Rapids area fisheries staff.

Area Fisheries Supervisor Joe Stewig and a staff of three full-time employees manage 150 fishing lakes and 260 miles of rivers and streams. These waters include popular fishing destinations such as Big Watab, the Sauk River Chain of Lakes, SuLicense Dollars At Work campaign linkgar Lake and the Mississippi River south of St. Cloud.

  • Area highlights
  • Fishing license increase
  • Notices & links
  • Area staff

At work for you

Sauk Rapids Area staff showing off four solid walleyes captured during an ice out assessment on a popular local lake.

Sauk Rapids Area staff showing off four solid walleyes captured during an ice out assessment on a popular local lake.

  • Manage the fisheries of 150 lakes, 60 miles of the Mississippi River and 200 miles of moderate size rivers such as the North Fork of the Crow, Sauk and Elk and evaluate lakes and rivers with special or experimental fishing regulations.
  • Stock 40 area lakes with walleye, two lakes with muskellunge and one lake with trout.
  • Conduct creel surveys to stay in touch with the angling public, monitor angler expectations and gauge effectiveness of current management strategies.
  • Conduct research for a smallmouth bass tagging study and population estimates for northern pike, walleye and muskellunge.
  • Survey and document aquatic vegetation and make conservation recommendations.
  • Manage and develop existing shore fishing sites to provide better angling access.
  • Provide outreach to schools, watershed districts, lake associations and rural communities.
  • Provide area website with in-depth and current fisheries information.

Facts about the fishing license fee increase

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Why Sauk Rapids area fisheries needs a license fee increase

Virtually all the work of the Sauk Rapids area fisheries staff is funded by money raised through fishing license sales. But reductions in buying power due to increasing costs for products, services and equipment have put this work and the recreational opportunities it creates at risk.

In response, the DNR is seeking a fishing license fee increase in the 2017 legislative session. The increase would raise the price of a resident annual fishing license from $22 to $25. Other fishing license types also would increase. The proposed increases should sustain existing fisheries operations until 2021.

The increase for an individual license – roughly the price of a scoop of minnows – may fill some existing vacancies but will not create any new positions. It will simply sustain existing programs and area office budgets, many of which already are reduced.

What happens with a fee increaseWhat happens without a fee increase

State lottery & legacy amendment dollars are off limits

Clean Water Land & Legacy Fund logo Enviornment and Natural Resources Trust Fund logo

State law prohibits tax dollars, including funds generated by the Minnesota Legacy Amendment and Minnesota State Lottery, from funding area fisheries offices and the core work they do. Fisheries management that creates world-class fishing here in Minnesota is a user-funded, user-benefit system.

General hunting and fishing license fees were last increased in 2012 at an amount designed to keep game and fish operations solvent for about six years. Prior to that, it had been 10 years since the last general fee increase. Periodic fee increases – one about every five years since 1970 – are how Minnesota funds routine fisheries management. Many fishing organizations traditionally have supported periodic fee increases because high-quality fishing is recreation worth paying for.

In November 2016, the Game and Fish Fund Budget Oversight Committee – a citizen group that monitors the DNR's fisheries, wildlife and enforcement revenues and expenditures – recommended that the Legislature increase fishing and hunting license fees during the 2017 legislative session.

The DNR's fisheries section has a long tradition of belt-tightening. Statewide, staff size is down about 13 percent from roughly a decade ago. Moreover, the section is holding an additional 24 vacancies, most of which will not be filled even with fee increase. This means it is common for field offices to have fewer employees and leaner budgets than they once did.

Notices, web links & area information

About Sauk Rapids fisheries

Welcome to the Sauk Rapids Fisheries Management Area. Our office manages the lakes, rivers, and streams in Wright, Stearns, and Sherburne Counties in Central Minnesota. We actively manage the fisheries on 150 lakes, 60 miles of the Mississippi River, over 200 miles of warm water rivers, one trout lake, and five trout streams. Our work area is in the heart of bass/bluegill territory in central MN; furthermore, the Mississippi River from St. Cloud to Anoka is home to one of the greatest Smallmouth Bass fisheries in the state! In addition to Largemouth and Smallmouth Bass and Bluegill, there are excellent opportunities to target Walleye, Northern Pike, Muskellunge, Black Crappie, Brook Trout, Channel Catfish, and Common Carp. Three state record fish have come from this area including White Crappie, Greater Redhorse, and Common Carp. On this site you can find information about recent surveys, fish stockings, special regulations, and other useful information. If you have any questions feel free to e-mail or call in.

Happy Fishing!

Recently added information:

2017 Stocking Quotas (Walleye, Muskie, Trout)

2016 Sugar Lake Spring Assessment Summary PDF

2016 Willow Creek Report

2015 Sauk River Chain of Lakes Summer and Winter Creel Reports

2015 Luxemburg, Stony, and Trout Creek Reports

2014 Cold Spring and Fairhaven Creek Reports

Lake Surveys

  • 2017 East and West Lake Sylvia Ice-Out Assessment Summary
  • 2017 Bass Electrofishing Summaries
  • 2017 Bluegill Assessment Summaries
  • 2017 Lake Survey Summaries - Updated 9/5/17

Lake information

River and stream information

Useful links

Contact our Sauk Rapids staff

Joe Stewig Area supervisor 320-223-7878
Jason Neuman Assistant area supervisor 320-223-7878
Mark Pelham Fisheries specialist 320-223-7878
Josh Wickstrom Fisheries technician 320-223-7878