AUSTIN, Minn. (KTTC) – It started with an idea from a technician at the watershed district, that’s now turned into a reality.
Starting next year, rainbow trout will be available for anglers to catch in Austin’s Todd Park.
The idea to add trout to the Cedar River Watershed began about six years ago when James Fett did some water testing.
“Then we pulled those temperature probes and all the data looked really good. We found that this stream can definitely sustain trout even on the hottest days of the year,” said Fett.
Wolf Creek is the ideal location because of its clear water and cool temperature, but it needed some work to be trout ready.
“I’ve been able to work with two different landowners to get 204 more acres of permanent habitat that will be established the next couple of years,” Fett said.
With the DNR getting on board with the idea, the next issue is making sure the fish put into the river don’t become food for other fish already there, like pike and bass.
“And they come up here and do some feeding, so if you stock fish that are too small, they could actually feed on them directly,” said Waterville Area Fisheries supervisor Craig Soupir. “By stocking the larger trout, that should reduce the amount of competition and predation on the trout itself and keeps them available for the anglers.”
Similar projects in other areas of the state have seen great success.
“DNR says that in places they’ve done it before, in the parks it’s changed the whole face of the park,” said Austin mayor Todd Stiehm. “Right now we like Todd Park but it’s probably not utilized as much as much as it could be and this should change that. It will change that, I can guarantee it.”
When stream trout fishing season kicks off next year in April, there will be plenty of opportunities for anglers to land themselves a catch.
“The trout that we stock are usually pretty aggressive. They feed pretty readily,” Soupir said. “People like to be out there right away and you’ll see people lined up all along the stream next spring so it’ll be a good thing.”
“We hear about our watershed district a lot but people don’t know what they do,” Stiehm said. “This is what they do. I mean they’ve done a really good job on this.”
For the first year, the fisheries will stock 600 trout, divided into two, 300 fish stockings.
They will see where the fish distribute in the creek and could bump the number of fish up if necessary.