The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources has put a lot of work into land it owns along the Vermillion River in Farmington. But if nobody ever visits, it’s a little like owning a beautiful painting but keeping it hidden in a locked room.
That desire to get people out to the land is the inspiration behind a proposed change to fishing regulations on the Vermillion. Starting next spring, people fishing the river outside of Farmington city limits might finally be able to go home with more than stories.
Currently, anglers can keep brown trout and rainbow trout they catch within Farmington city limits, but fish caught outside the city must be released. Under the new proposal, rainbow trout caught outside of the city would be eligible to be kept. Brown trout still would not.
“We’re just really trying to highlight some of the great work that’s being done down there,” said T.J. Debates, east metro fisheries manager for the DNR. “We want people to get out there. We want people to fish on the stream. We want there to be a good product for them to catch.”
The DNR operates wildlife management areas and aquatic management areas from just east of Farmington to the east side of Highway 52. The land, open for hunting and fishing, features native grasses and wildflowers.
It’s a good resource, DeBates said, but it’s underutilized.
Brown trout reproduce naturally in the river, but the DNR and the Southern Dakota Sportsmen each stock rainbow trout in the Vermillion each year with the intention that they be caught.
“This is a put and take fishery with rainbow trout,” DeBates said. “We put them there for people to fish and keep.”
The rainbow trout are usually put into the Vermillion near downtown Farmington, but they often spread farther downstream.
The new proposal would also extend the trout season on the Vermillion to make it the same as the season on trout streams in southeastern Minnesota. That season runs from the Saturday closest to April 15 through Sept. 14. There is an additional catch-and-release season from Sept. 15 through Oct. 15.
Residents with an opinion on the proposed changes can attend a public meeting at 7 p.m. Sept. 10 at the Vermillion Highlands Wildlife Management Area office, 15325 Babcock Ave. The DNR will also accept written comments through Sept. 20 by mail at 1200 Warner Road, St. Paul, MN 55106 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.