Anglers who fish in Carver, Hennepin and Scott counties benefit from the management, habitat and oversight work of the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources' West Metro area fisheries staff.
Area Fisheries Supervisor Daryl Ellison and a staff of five full-time and one part-time employee manage 101 fishing lakes and 108 miles of rivers and streams. These waters include popular fishing destinations such as Lake Minnetonka, the Minneapolis Chain of Lakes and two large rivers – the Minnesota and Mississippi.
West Metro fisheries staff strip eggs from a female muskellunge for the statewide muskie stocking program.
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Virtually all the work of the West Metro 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.
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.
2017 Seasonal Fish Kills
We have seen or received several dead-fish reports in spring/summer 2017. The timing, fish numbers/species, and conditions are consistent with seasonal, bacterial-related causes limited to fish; and recent continued hot weather could be extending/magnifying the effects (high temperatures means decreased oxygen in water). Lakes reported, along with (County) and [last previously reported die-off]: Eagle (Hennepin) [6/11/11], Snelling (Hennepin) [8/13/04], Nokomis (Hennepin) [6/12/16-- lab-confirmed bacterial cause], Lotus (Carver) [6/4/16], Eagle (Carver) [8/21/16], Johathon (Carver) [first report], Grace (Carver) [6/1/14], Crystal (Hennepin) [5/28/08], Calhoun (Hennepin) [6/13/14], Cedar (Hennepin) [winter 2010-11], Harriet (Hennepin) [6/19/16], Minnetonka [5/26/16], and Powderhorn (Hennepin) [winter 2010-11]. Some more details on bacterial-related fish kills, particularly associated to Scott County in 2015, can be found here. In 2016, eleven kills of this type were reported in local lakes.
Related to winterkill-- no local lakes were opened to Liberalized Fishing during winter 2016-17. Early ice cover and shallow depths did cause some winterkill of fish in upper Minnehaha Creek below the Grays Bay dam. More information on liberalized fishing and list of opened lakes statewide can be found here.
Trout Stocked For 2017 Open-Water Season
Courthouse Lake (Chaska) received 1,500 rainbow trout yearlings for the May 13, 2017 Opener. Average size at stocking was just over 1/3 lb. In addition, 120 rainbow trout (1-3.5 lb size range; yearlings and adults) and 500 brook trout yearlings (0.4-0.5 lb average size) were stocked into Courthouse Lake.
Quarry Lake (Shakopee) also received surplus brook trout yearlings (1,216 at 0.4-0.5 lb average size) and 2,425 rainbow trout yearlings (1/3-lb average size) for the May Opener. For questions about access status and fishability within Quarry Lake Park, contact City of Shakopee.
Survivors from previous stockings in these lakes, as well as in Christmas and Little Long Lakes, are also available during the 2017 open-water season in local trout lakes. See our Trout Waters page for more details about local trout-fishing management and opportunities.
Recent Regulation Changes: 1) 54-Inch Minimimum For Muskies 2) Dark House Spearing Bans Lifted
Fishing-law changes effective with the 2015 Legislative Session had two major local impacts: 1) increased legal harvestable size of many-- but not all-- muskellunge (muskie) waters. Minimum harvest length for muskies increased to 54 inches. Lakes managed for tiger muskie (or containing remnant populations) and the Mississippi River upstream from the Coon Rapids Dam have different muskie size regulations. 2) The activity of dark house spearing that used to be banned on these lakes-- Minnetonka (and connected lakes Forest, Libbs, Peavey, and Tanager), Rebecca, and Stieger [Steiger]-- is now allowed.
All other applicable regulations-- including any Special Regulations-- remain in effect. Related to the most-asked question: you may now go dark house spearing on Stieger (Steiger) lake for other eligible species, but-- because of the Special Regulation-- you still MAY NOT spear/harvest northern pike. Check our Special Fishing Regulations page or consult the Statewide Regulations for more detail.
Lake Minnetonka Muskie Study-- Please Report Tagged and Fin-Clipped Fish
MN DNR, Muskies, Inc. Twin Cities Chapter, and Hugh C. Becker Foundation began a project on Lake Minnetonka to evaluate muskellunge (muskie) stocking effectiveness. Since 2009, muskie have been stocked with an individually numbered yellow tag near the dorsal fin. If you catch a tagged muskie that you plan to release, please leave the tag in the fish but record the 6-digit tag number, date caught, lake name, fish species, and fish length via the internet tag-report form or to our office's phone, email, or address (above). Study Details (includes 2014 season information)
West Metro Fisheries Office Location
Our office is in the Blue Lake Business Center on Scott Co. Hwy. 101 (between US Hwy 169 and Valleyfair amusement park). We share space with two other MN DNR disciplines (Parks & Trails, Wildlife) and Conservation Corps Minnesota-Iowa .
No license sales or registration/titling services are available, and we have no hatchery or live fish displays for tours. If you'd like to visit us in person, we recommend you contact us beforehand to ensure staff will be here. Because we're a small, field-oriented office, drop-in visitors could find no available help or a locked building.
|Daryl Ellison||Area supervisor||952-496-4141, Ext. firstname.lastname@example.org|
|Taylor Polomis||Assistant area supervisor||952-496-4141, Ext. email@example.com|
|Matt Petersen||Fishing in the neighborhood||952-496-4141, Ext. firstname.lastname@example.org|
|Mario Travaline||Fishing in the neighborhood||952-496-4141, Ext. email@example.com|
|Kristan Maccaroni||Fisheries specialist||952-496-4141, Ext. firstname.lastname@example.org|
|Jason Harris||Fisheries specialist||952-496-4141, Ext. email@example.com|
|Lori Snider||Office administrative speialist||952-496-4141, Ext. firstname.lastname@example.org|
|Keegan Lund||Aquatic invasive species email@example.com|