The first fishing opener of the year is upon us, and the volunteers in the nonprofit conservation group Twin Cities Trout Unlimited are ready.

On April 7, about 60 volunteers from all over the Twin Cities metro area worked together with the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources and the City of Savage, to improve the Eagle Creek State Aquatic Management Area in Savage.

The volunteers cut invasive non-native buckthorn brush, which is degrading native prairie along the stream banks. Volunteers dragged the brush out for city workers to chop up into hiking trail chips. They sprayed the buckthorn stumps with herbicide to keep it from growing back.

Trout opener

The DNR expects about 110,000 Minnesotans to fish for trout this year. Eagle Creek is not the best place to fish for trout in the metro area around the season opener however. It's narrow and brushy, but it does hold some big fish. It is catch-and-release fishing only on Eagle Creek.

The best place to try your luck is on the Vermillion River, which runs through Lakeville, Farmington and through several townships, all the way to Hastings, where it plunges over Vermillion Falls and eventually into the Mississippi River.

On April 12, DNR fisheries experts stocked a truckload of catchable-sized rainbow trout in the Vermillion, in preparation for the opener. You can keep some of the hatchery-raised rainbow trout for dinner.

However, you must release any brown trout you catch in the Vermillion and its tributaries, just like on Eagle Creek. The browns are wild. They naturally reproduce in the river. Some of them grow to trophy size - up to 30-inches long.