Kicking off trout fishing opener, activists warn of water pollution

- The temperature is finally reaching above zero Monday after more than 48 hours below zero. And despite the cold, some people actually headed to streams south and east of the metro for the winter trout fishing opener.

It’s actually warmer to be in Cold Creek, where underground springs keep the water temperature about 50 to 60 degrees warmer than the air. The people out fishing highlight the creek as a cool place to spend a winter day, and also remind others to keep the water clean.

“It’s weird because everyone else is ice fishing, and we’re out here,” said Dan Callahan with Twin Cities Trout Unlimited. Callahan has been waiting for this day since September. 

“You gotta be pretty dedicated to do this. It’s actually warmer now than if you’re out of the water,” he said. 

It’s the first day of the trout catch and release season, drawing fishermen to one of the many Minnesota trout streams that actually don't freeze in winter.

Cold Creek is actually called Cold Creek because it’s all spring water. So in the summer time, it’s really cold because the water comes out 48 degrees year round. Fish don’t know any different really, because they’re trout and they like cold water.

But Callahan said the habitat of these cold water fish is threatened by salt pollution.

“The thing people don’t realize is salt doesn’t break down. It just accumulates, so every year more and more salt just keeps getting washed into streams and wetlands and lakes,” he said. 

It's not just lakes and streams; the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency said salt from chloride can also impact groundwater used for drinking.

“All of us wants safe roads and sidewalks, but none of us wants to drink salty water, so you just have to be smart about how you apply salt,” Callahan said.

The people with Trout Unlimited say that sand is a good alternative to reduce the amount of salt. The catch and release season runs until March 31 in southeast Minnesota.

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