DNR considers removing trout stream designation on East Swan River

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources is considering removing the trout stream designation on the East Swan River and its tributaries, including East Swan Creek and Little Swan Creek in St. Louis County. The DNR considered changes to about 90 waters in 30 Minnesota counties that included adding trout designations in some waters, and removing the designations in others.

During the review process, streams with the cold, clear water needed to support trout populations received stronger protection as newly designated trout streams, while other streams unable to support trout would no longer have the designation.

The East Swan River and its tributaries have been considered marginal trout waters since the 1940s.  Attempts were made to produce a put and take brown trout fishery in the 1980s and again in the 1990s, but surveys failed to capture any trout from the stream. Brook trout stocking had also been attempted on at least two tributaries, but subsequent surveys result in very low numbers and anglers reported poor fishing.

“The timing seems right to consider the East Swan River for delisting,” said Grand Rapids area fisheries supervisor David Weitzel. “The data we have collected indicate that poor conditions exist for stream trout, and that these streams are better suited for warm water fish species.”

Adding or removing designations for streams would change requirements for anglers, landowners and those who work near these streams. Designation allows the DNR to regulate trout fishing seasons and methods and allows for work to improve angler access and fish habitat. Anglers must purchase a trout stamp to fish designated waters. Designation also protects streams through more stringent levels of permitting and regulatory programs that apply to those seeking water use appropriations and permits for work in a stream.

“This level of protection is not needed in the East Swan River or its tributaries,” Weitzel said.   “Removing the designation is warranted to better portray the fishery and avoid unrealistic expectations.”

Anyone with questions is encouraged to contact the Grand Rapids Area fisheries office at 218-328-8836. Written comments on the proposal will be accepted through March 22, and can be emailed to grandrapids.fisheries@state.mn.us; or mailed to Grand Rapids area fisheries, 1201 East Highway 2, Grand Rapids, MN  55744.