West Metro Area Trout Fishing
There are several trout-fishing opportunities within our management area (Hennepin, Scott, and Carver Counties). Three lakes are regularly stocked, and one stream supports a small, self-reproducing brown trout population. Please know and follow all trout-related Regulations, in particular 1) Trout Stamp validation needed for fishing Designated trout waters or having trout in possession 2) slightly different seasons: for streams Saturday closest to April 15-Sept. 30, for lakes same May opening date as walleye-northern pike (but starting 1 hr before sunrise)-October 31, and 3) restrictions of Designated Trout Lakes and Designated Trout Streams.
Courthouse Lake, behind the Carver County Government Center in Chaska, was formerly a clay mine. This water is 10 acres in size and a Designated Trout Lake. It is managed as a "put-and-take" fishery. Following a 1997 flood, water quality declined to induce a 2000-01 winterkill, but conditions have since improved. The lake is now aerated in fall to boost oxygen before ice-up.
The Courthouse Lake management plan* is to stock yearling rainbow trout in this pattern: 3,000 for the Open-Water Season Opener, 1,000 in mid-late October (once water temperatures are favorably cool) and 2,000 for the Winter Opener. Each year we also request DNR hatchery surplus brook, brown, and rainbow trout. Amount and mix of the "extra" trout received varies yearly, but it is mostly larger adult fish. (* Actual numbers might differ slightly from exact quotas, depending on hatchery availability, but stocking is planned to occur every year)
Over the last 5 years, 4,750-6,350 trout have been stocked annually, and over 90% of each year's numbers were yearling rainbow trout. Because of poor survival and risk for spreading exotic organisms, no State Fair display trout-- including lake trout or splake-- have been stocked into Courthouse Lake since 2005.
Christmas Lake is just across MN Highway 7 from Lake Minnetonka in the village of Greenwood. Water quality allows "two-story" fish management-- sufficient oxygen in the colder, deeper waters for trout and a typical bass-panfish-northern pike fish community throughout the lake. Because Christmas is not a Designated Trout Lake, angling for non-trout species during their legal seasons is allowed. Targeting trout during closed seasons is both illegal and poor sportsmanship. Be aware the public access is small, not open 24 hours, and lacks shore fishing amenities and adjacent street parking.
The Christmas Lake management plan* is to stock 1,000 yearling rainbow trout for the Open-Water Season and adult rainbow trout when available**. Most of the last 15 years we have been able to put in at least 50 adult rainbow trout annually. (* Actual numbers stocked might vary slightly from quotas, depending on hatchery availability ** suitable lake conditions required; post-stocking trout survival is poor with iced-covered shallow depths or water temperatures above 60o F)
Little Long Lake is in Minnetristra, northeast of both Whaletail Lake and the town of St. Bonifacius. Little Long is similar to Christmas Lake-- water quality allows "two-story" fish management and is not a Designated Trout Lake. The present management plan is to stock 500 yearling rainbow trout for each Winter Season beginning in 2015; until then stockings are dependent on surplus being available. The lake has a small DNR Parks-and-Trails-managed public boat launch. There is a 10-horsepower limit for outboard motors.
Eagle Creek is at the crossroads of busy Highways 13 and 101 in Savage (Scott County). A self-sustaining but small population of brown trout requires a Special Regulation-- catch-and-release only.
Most of Eagle Creek is within publicly accessible land-- the DNR-managed Eagle Creek Aquatic Management Area (AMA) or the USFWS Minnesota Valley Wildlife Refuge. To maintain or improve the stream, its watershed, and fishing access within the AMA, improvement projects such as buckthorn removals, native tree/prairie grass plantings, beaver dam removals, and stream channel restorations are regularly undertaken. Such work can affect the appearance and condition of the stream and its banks.
Notes: 1) lower Eagle Creek can flood when the Minnesota River floods and can also harbor Minnesota-River-origin fish and 2) some consider Eagle Creek small, shallow, and difficult to fish.