Dropper Rigs - Not Here!

Over the past year or so we have fielded several inquiries regarding the use of the dropper fly system for Steelhead on our North Shore Rivers. The main question: Are dropper flies legal to use or not?

For those not familiar with this system, we have included this diagram to illustrate a typical set up. Dropper systems are a real effective way to cover multiple strike zones on a single drift. Just don’t use them on the trout waters of the North Shore.

Hopefully all of you have read, and are familiar with the Lake Superior Tributary section within the State fishing regulations booklet. For those that are not familiar, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources has the following hook use verbiage in the 2010 Fishing Regulations:

“Anglers are restricted to a single hook only—no treble hooks—on Lake Superior tributary streams and rivers up to the posted boundaries. Exceptions are the St. Louis River (St. Louis and Carlton Counties) and the Pigeon River (Cook County).”

To some, the wording in the regulations is not 100% clear. Several individuals have interpreted this as single hooks are ok even if using two. No matter how you read it, we decided to dig into this a bit further to provide crystal clear clarity.
We spoke with Conservation Officer, 1st Lieutenant Jeff Koehn, of the MN DNR Enforcement Division and got what we were looking for - clarity. Lt Koehn sited the actual rules as stated under MN Administrative Rules: 6262.0200 and Rule 6226.0300. As with most state laws, regulations and rules, these rules are quite a bit longer than what is actually listed. The Rules for fishing have been summarized to help reduce the size of our regulation booklet and reduce confusion. Lt. Koehn directed us to the specific wording that clearly states one hook and one hook only. He also stated that they will be making recommendations for further clarity on the existing questionable verbiage so there is no future confusion.

To those not familiar with what this is all about, the North Shore Rivers have special fishing regulations. Single hooks only on the designated water from the upstream boundary down to Lake Superior, including 100’ of shoreline on either side of each river mouth. For more information on where the upstream boundary are located please visit the website, the DNR Designated trout water map, or contact us and we will see that you get the information. Note that the upstream boundaries are not always at Hwy 61. This has to be one of the biggest misconceptions we have encountered while on the water.

If you notice someone in violation of the dropper hook ruling you have decision to make. If the situation feels right, educating an angler may be all that is needed. For those blatant Jack wagons, the decision should be simple - please report them to the MN 24/7/365 TIP Line: 1-800-652-9093


Anonymous said…
Good tip, thanks!
Anonymous said…
This is actually incorrect.

While there remains distinct disagreement among conservation officers in MN, the key fact is that the MN fishing regulations provide the INTERPRETATION of the state statues. As there is no statue defining angling methods in MN, it is the regulations as published that define them.

The key phrase that your refer to in statute 6262.200 is "Only a single hook may be used for angling" This is further defined within the general regulations: "
Anglers may use only one hook. An artificial lure is considered one hook. A treble hook, when not part of an artificial lure, is considered three hooks and is not legal. The exception is that three artificial flies may be used when angling for trout, crappie, sunfish, and rock bass."

This is LIMITED within the Lake Superior Regulations: "Anglers are restricted to a single hook only-no-treble hooks-on Lake Superior tributary streams and rivers up to the posted boundaries."

Thus, the original interpretation stands from the general regulations, with the clear exception that treble hooks can not be used.

An important fact to note in this discussion is that MN DNR Fisheries personnel managing MN steelhead feel that there is not a strong biological basis to support restricting the use of multiple flies. The original intention of this statue has been, and remains, to protect steelhead and steelhead smolts from incidental mortality caused by problems with hook removal. Restriction of the use of multiple flies was not the original intention of this regulation, nor does it accomplish the goal.

Please do not rely upon one officer's interpretation of regulations and statues to attempt to clarify a part of current fishing regulations. This interpretation disagrees with multiple other DNR interpretations obtained within the last year.

Please pass this along to the officer in question if you have any further concerns, or forward this up the chain of command within the DNR if you wish to pursue this issue further.
Dear anonymous,

In short, are you stating that droppers can be used?

If so, please forward one of the multiple contacts you are referring too. If what you say is accurate, I would bet one of these conservation officers would happily set the record and Officer Koehn straight.
Anonymous said…
Any word yet from the Anonymous poster on the Dropper line issue he brought up? The regs sure seem clear that you but the comment sounds like there are officials that say you can. What gives?

Has he given you any more facts or contacts to confirm or disprove Minnesota Steelheaders original post?
Brad said…
I'm interested in Anonymous' reference to the INTENT of the restriction. It seems obvious that the intent is to decrease fish mortality - either intentionally by poaching (via snagging) or unintentionally by nasty hookups (the kind we all experience occasionally when fishing with lures elsewhere).

Can we agree this is the clear intent/purpose of the law? The DNR isn't simply trying to make fishing difficult for the heck of it, right?

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