Though the trout fishing season in southeast Minnesota opened with periods of hail, heavy rain and fierce winds, throughout the day many fishermen were seen leaving creeks and rivers with smiles on their faces.
Included in the mix was this fisherman, who left the opener Saturday, April 12th with four trout, a mix of rainbows and browns. The daily trout limit in Minnesota is five.
All told, my friend from Rochester and I caught eight fish during the opening day of trout fishing for a majority of southeast Minnesota's popular trout fishing streams and rivers. The skies were threatening and dark to open the day, and when it pounded hail at 9 am many considered the possibility of waiting for day two of the season before testing the waters.
Instead, by noon the weather relented and dozens of fishermen lined the banks of the South Branch of the Root River in the tiny town of Preston. We caught most of our fish here, though we did have some luck while fishing Watson Creek and Rice Creek, located near Chatfield. A majority of our fish were caught on Panther Martin spinners, though we did toss out nightcrawlers occasionally, also bringing moderate success.
And what better to celebrate the trout opener than by cooking a delicious meal of freshly caught rainbows. The easiest way to cook trout, in my opinion, is to grill or bake the fish. Start by gutting the trout within an hour of catching them. This will prevent the guts and organs from tainting the meat when the fish dies. Leave the head and all of the body intact, slicing from just under the jawline and running your knife to the tail across the fish's belly. Remove the guts and organs with your hand and, if necessary, your knife. This will leave the chest cavity open, where you can stuff slices of lemon when you cook the fish.
There are several options to cook the trout, though my preferred method is by placing them on a sheet of greased aluminum foil and baking them in the oven or on the grill. Again, prior to cooking the fish, place two or three slices of lemon inside the chest cavity, along with whatever spices you enjoy. I keep it simple with salt, pepper and perhaps a dusting of all-spice. Feel free to get creative when flavoring your trout, as almost any combination works, so long as the fish is seasoned in moderation.
Bake or grill the fish at roughly 400 degrees for 15-20 minutes. The lemon slices will keep the fish moist, so don't be afraid to cook the fish through. However, don't go overboard on cooking or the trout will turn mushy, a surefire way to ruin a good feast. For side dishes try a kale salad and rice, or any combination of starch and vegetable.
Remember, to legally catch trout in Minnesota you need a standard fishing license as well as a trout stamp. The 2014 trout season in underway, venture out and get hooked up with some delicious dinner.
Photos by: Joseph Friedrichs