Sunday, May 29, 2011

More Lutsen - Poplar River Issue

We recently contacted State representative, C. McFarlane, looking for some clarity on the passed bill regarding the Lutsen Resort water consumption bill.

McFarlane informed us that the bill they passed will,  for the the first time, limit the resort's use of water from the stream.  Once that annual allocated limit is met, water will not be allowed to be pumped for the remainder of that that year.  She also stated that the permit issued to Lutsen has a 5 year time limit to look for a long term solution. 

Below is the language from the conference committee report:
53.11Pursuant to Minnesota Statutes, section 103G.265, subdivision 3, the legislature
53.12approves of the consumptive use of water under a permit of more than 2,000,000 gallons
53.13per day average in a 30-day period in Cook County, in connection with snowmaking
53.14and potable water. Notwithstanding any other law to the contrary, the permit for the
53.15consumptive use of water approved under this section shall be issued, subject to the
53.16fees specified under Minnesota Statutes, section 103G.271, without any additional
53.17administrative process to withdraw up to 150,000,000 gallons of water annually for
53.18snowmaking and potable water purposes. The permit authorized under this section shall
53.19be suspended if the flow of the Poplar River falls below 15 cubic feet per second for more
53.20than five consecutive days. The permit authorized under this section shall be reinstated
53.21when the flow of the Poplar River resumes to 15 cubic feet per second or greater. The
53.22permit shall be for a term of five years.

In our email correspondence to Rep. McFarlane we also asked what studies or reports were cited that show that the amount of approved water usage will have no impact to the watershed or fishery.  We were referred to Rep. Dill to answer that question.  We will post any reports or studies that surface from Rep Dill.

To all our readers, we welcome constructive comments to our posts, but as stated in the previous posts we are not going political on this. we plan to be rational and get all the facts. If the facts state harm to the fishery is possible, then let's fight with all we have.  Republican, Independent, Democrat does not matter here.  In a fight you are either with us and the fishery or against us. It will be that simple from Minnesota Steelheader. 

To those that have commented and stated you are not political, then proceed to negatively name one political party 3 times in a single paragraph... well, as you can see your comments are not published.... sorry.  Keep it real and we will happily share your thoughts with our readers.  Keep it political and your letters and paragraphs will evaporate into the cyber abyss.  Not fair?  Come on guys! 

In the mean time we will continue to track this frustrating issue and do our best to bring unbiased clarity to our reports. 

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Lutsen - Poplar River Issue

Here is a great read from Dennis Anderson, Star Tribune outdoor writer and editor. It helps bring a little more light on the Lutsen - Poplar River water pumping issue.

Minnesota Steelheader is not interested in political slants or emotional opinions on this subject.  You will have to go somewhere else to read that junk.

 Fact: A designated trout stream is turning into a dependable water source for a local growing business.  We want the bottom line answer:  Could this pumping of water from the Poplar have a negative impact on the brook trout, rainbow trout and salmon fisheries? If yes than we feel Lusten needs to find an alternative water source or reduce water consumption to levels that would not have any negative impact to the fishery or watershed.  If no, well... it is hard to believe a study will show conclusive evidence that the no harm is possible. 

Here is a portion of Mr. Anderson's article.  we encourage you to click on the link below to read his entire article.

"Who speaks for resources that can't speak for themselves is at the heart of the nation's conservation dilemma. Having long defined mountains, rivers, prairies, fish and wildlife as commodities, we too often quantify their highest and best use as the ones that ring cash registers the fastest, and the longest. Aesthetic values by comparison seem a poor sister, and proclamations of their worth the tireless errands of idealists, fools, or both.

The mess at Lutsen, the North Shore ski area, makes the point. The owners there have sought this legislative session to legitimize what they have been doing illegitimately now for nearly a decade. Or if not illegitimately, without permission. Call it that. Without permission, beginning in 2001, Lutsen took 60 million gallons of water a year from the Poplar River to make artificial snow as cheaply as possible, according to the DNR. The ski area's permit called for 12.6 million gallons. In some years since, the extraction has jumped to as high as 108 million gallons, according to the DNR.

Notably, the Poplar River is a designated trout stream. In Minnesota, it's been illegal since 1977 to withdraw water from such streams. Lutsen has a waiver from this prohibition."

Read entire article here.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

2011 Run Wind-Down

While we're getting close to the end, it's not over yet. The recent rains have brought in yet another push of fish albeit not as large as the previous ones. Here's the Shore-Wide picture as of 05.20.2011 (Click thumbs for larger images):

Lower Shore Creel Survey

Lower Shore Creel vs. Trap Numbers

Mid Shore Creel Survey

Upper Shore Creel Survey

2011 Shore-Wide Combined Creel Numbers vs. Average

The last graphic is the 2011 total combined Lower, Mid and Upper Shore Kamloops/Steelhead numbers up against the average for the Creel data we have. 2010 continues to stand out as an example of an extremely early run and skews the stats just a bit. After the 2011 Creel ceases, I'll try to get the final numbers up as soon as I can. Note that the survey will cease around 05.25.2011, but we still should be getting a push or two of fish with precipitation events. In the meantime, get out and enjoy!


Monday, May 16, 2011

Fishing Report 5-16-11

MN DNR creel update:

From 5/13 through 5/15, water temperatures ranged from 46 to 56 on the Lower and Middle Shore, and were 45 to 51 on the Upper Shore. 

Interviewed anglers caught 4 Steelhead, 3 Kamloops, and 1 Brown Trout on the Lower Shore, 13 Steelhead and 1 Kamloops on the Middle Shore, and 17 Steelhead, 2 Kamloops, and 4 Brook Trout on the Upper Shore. 

The Knife Trap totals are 405 Steelhead and 29 Kamloops, while French River Trap totals are 815 Kamloops and 94 Steelhead.

Stream flows shorewide are decreasing and running with average to above average, clear flows. 

Fishing reports are updated on the web on Mondays and Fridays at 
or by calling our office at 218-525-0853 and selecting 1 for the updated fishing report

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Lutsen Resort looking to take more - millions of gallons from the Poplar River

Pictured here is a nice little Coho Salmon 
caught out of the Poplar River
It is true,  Lutsen is hoping to take more water out of the Poplar River. Not just a few gallons, but millions and millions of water anually.

 Can there be any good to the fishery out of this... really?  We do not think so.  We are going to dive head first into this ASAP and will do our best to keep you posted on a regular basis.

Here is an expert from the Star tribune article, written by: Josephine Marcotty.  You can click on the link below for the full article.

"For decades, the Poplar River has made Minnesotans happy year-round as it tumbles down from the Boundary Waters wilderness to the North Shore of Lake Superior. In fishing season, anglers hook trout and other game fish from its rocky pools. In winter, its lower reach supplies water that Lutsen Mountain Resort uses to make snow for skiers.

Now, in a move that has outraged conservationists, the Legislature is poised to give the skiers and the privately owned resort an advantage over the anglers and the trout. It is expected to pass a law that would give Lutsen special dispensation to draw millions of gallons of water from the small river -- a designated trout stream -- to ensure that Lutsen has enough snow from November to March."

Read the full article - click here

Latest 2011 Analysis

My apologies! I've been in several intensive job-related schools over the last four weeks and haven't had much time to play with the data let alone fish...

So here's the current picture more or less. I put the Lower Shore creel up against the trap numbers and although there are no surprizes, there are some items to take note of:

Three points of clarification: The vertical lines are all annotated for what they represent and are accurate to the date they occured, not simply the week they occured in. The black vertical line is Knife River ice-out, the blue vertical line is the average date 4 Lower Shore streams reached the upstream migration temp threshold. The red line represents the date Lower Shore streams maintained 40 degrees overnight which according to DNR data, typically represents the peak of the return/migration.

Once again you can see very clearly the relationships between temperatures and early-run activity. Once temps hit the upstream movement initiation threshold, things really kicked off. Peak returns based on trap numbers also occurred as soon as temps maintained that magic 40 degrees overnight which is a well studied MN phenomenon. There is a little fudge-factor there due to the date the traps opened, but it's still pretty clear.

One significant item to note: The Upper Shore returns lag the Lower Shore by anywhere from 14-21 days. This is significant because when you do the math based on the above graphic well, you get the picture. There are still plenty of fish to be found as DB says.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Fishing Report 5-14-11

We are well into the Minnesota walleye opener today and the weather still smells of steelhead.  Are you done steelheading for the season?  I am not! 

As you will read in the DNR creel report below, the numbers of fish in the survey seem few - they are.  What you need to remember though is that most fair weather steelhead anglers are already off the water and either done for the year or back in the woods chasing other species today.  Fewer anglers on the water mean fewer fish recorded.

For those wondering if the steelhead are still running, quit wondering and get out and fish - they are!  When conditions are favorable, like they are this month,  You can bet that there are still fish moving in most middle and upper shore steelhead rivers. Yes, it is true that we are near the end of the 2011 spring run, but some of my best fishing has been done late season.  In fact, a couple of us will still be on the water into next weekend.  Hope to still see a few of you out with us!


DNR Creel Report:

From 5/9 through 5/12, water temperatures ranged from 52 to 58 on the Lower Shore, 48-52 on the Middle Shore, and were 45 to 57 on the Upper Shore. 

Interviewed anglers caught 5 Steelhead, 5 Kamloops, and 17 Suckers on the Lower Shore, 5 Steelhead, 5 Brook Trout, 1 Kamloops and 1 Sucker on the Middle Shore, and 6 Steelhead on the Upper Shore.  The Knife Trap totals are 396 Steelhead and 27 Kamloops, while French River Trap totals are 813 Kamloops and 93 Steelhead.

Stream flows shorewide are still decreasing, but still running with above average clear flows.

Fishing reports are updated on the web on Mondays and Fridays at 
or by calling our office at 218-525-0853 and selecting 1 for the updated fishing report

Monday, May 09, 2011

Photo Challenge III

So you think you know your North Shore Rivers do you?  Test your wits and take the Photo Challenge - III

To be eligible you must be a facebook page fan and not a recent photo challenge winner.  All voting is done on our facebook page.   To take the challenge, simply  submit your answer by clicking the comment link below the photo on facebook... it looks just like this one.

The 1st correct answer receives a complimentary MN steelheader window decal.

Here is a link to our facebook page:

Fishing Report - 5-9-11

The fishing is still hot.  These pics were sent in from our buddy Jared after a weekend on the water.  As you can see we have a couple of happy campers with some nice bright May!

This week looks to still be a great week to get out and fish. Most anglers have shift the focus on middle and upper shore waters where conditions are more favorable.

 Here is some creel data from the DNR.

From 5/6 through 5/8, water temperatures ranged from 51 to 55 on the Lower Shore, 48-52 on the Middle Shore, and were 41 to 51 on the Upper Shore. 

 Interviewed anglers caught 14 Steelhead, 17 Kamloops, 2 Brook Trout, and 26 Suckers on the Lower Shore, 17 Steelhead on the Middle Shore, and 4 Steelhead on the Upper Shore. 

The Knife Trap totals are 378 Steelhead and 26 Kamloops, while French River Trap totals are 798 Kamloops and 91 Steelhead.

Stream flows shorewide are decreasing, but still running with above average clear flows.

MN DNR Fishing creel reports are updated on the web on Mondays and Fridays at  or
by calling our office at 218-525-0853 and selecting 1 for the updated fishing report

Saturday, May 07, 2011

Photo Challenge

Here is a challenge for all who fish and explore the North Shore Rivers of Minnesota.

To play you must visit our facebook page. To be eligible you must first "like" our page.  Good Luck!

Lower Shore Creel Numbers as of 05.06.2011

Here are the latest Lower Shore Creel Numbers for 05.06.2011

As you can see, the Lower Shore based on creel numbers appears to have peaked. DNR studies show that peak return typically occurs once stream temps maintain 40 degrees overnight, and you can see that has occurred as well. I just haven't had time to chart the trap numbers but it likely shows the same thing.

However, just because it likely has peaked doesn't mean that fishing is done on the Lower Shore. We'll still have fish returning for some time as well as spawned-out fish dropping back out of the tributaries. Not to mention the Mid and Upper Shores are still cooking. There's still a lot of fishing to be done...

Couple items- There have been some questions regarding how to arrive at the numbers shown on the charts. I apologise Zinger, I just hadn't had the time to get in a response to your questions from the previous blog entry, so here goes:

Whenever you see a chart that has a daily reporting format as in the April 26 blog post, there are a couple things to keep in mind. The flow and temperature values reported for that day are an average of all the readings taken throughout the day except for the maximum temperature where depicted. They are in all cases though a daily reported value.

The issue with flow is that normally it's much higher than the numbers being reported for temperature or fish returns whether they are creel or trap numbers. If I put flow at actual scale of 400cfs for example, then creel numbers are 20 fish and the average temp is 41, the lower numbers for temp and creel are all squashed together in a way that makes seeing the important relationships impossible. This is why you'll see a notation in the legend indicating flows have been divided by 10 and then plotted. It's still accurately depicting what flows are doing, but more importantly you can actually see the more subtle temperature, flow and run relationships. My problem is sometimes I copy a chart to make it easier to update some new info and forget to update the X and Y axis labels. That probably confuses the crap out of people and I apologize for it...

With the fish numbers it gets a little trickier. The issue, and I think this is what you were getting at Zinger, is that while the flow and temp values are daily values - in other words I have an actual number for each day shown - the creel and trap numbers are only reported every few days. If I depict the number reported for the day it is reported, it shows up as an isolated data point with no relationship to the previous or next reported number. You'd just see a dot and all you can tell is that it's higher or lower than the previous dot and the next dot, like this:

Generally what I do to make the chart a little more intuitive is to then connect the dots like this:

All the computer is doing to draw the line is interpolating a point between the actual reported data points. That's where it gets tricky because it looks at first glance like there are fish being trapped each day. That's the case in reality, but the DNR is only reporting the totals trapped every few days, so I don't have a daily figure. All you can really say then is that on 04.18 the Knife trap had zero fish in it. On 4.21 they had 134 fish in the trap. What you can't say is exactly how many fish came in on the 19th and 20th. Again, all I can do is plot the actual data for the day it's reported. Daily flow and temp data I have, not the case for trap and creel numbers. But, you still get a good sense of what's going on if I connect the dots as it were.

Which gets us to the type of chart posted at the beginning. The daily values are great for seeing relationships between flow, temperature and fish movement. However the weekly format/values better illustrate exactly where the run is at. The only difference between the two is that all the trap or creel numbers are added up for a particular week, and then plotted, so it's a total for the dates shown. In the above chart, I haven't posted what weeks 10-15 are, but you can figure it out because the peak of the Lower Shore steelhead return is week 16 or April 16-22. Which means that week 15 was April 15-21 etc.

Because the trap and/or creel numbers are cumulative for that particular week, you can see that total Lower Shore steelhead creel for week 16 was 88 fish. Kamloops appeared to have peaked out in week 17 (April 4.23-4.29) at 55 fish. Kamloop numbers are a little trickier though because even though they might be kept by the fisherman reporting to the creel census clerk, the ones getting trapped all get returned to the lake, which means they might get trapped again, or potentially caught and eaten. I'm not saying this skews the numbers, only that it's something to be aware of.

In the end, all this crazy mathematical contortionism just serves two purposes:
1. The daily numbers give you a feel for what's going on more or less real time.
2. The weekly averages such as in the chart above tell you roughly what stage the run is at and from there you can draw your own conclusions about conditions elsewhere.

The charts do serve another purpose, but that's a discussion for another time. Right now it's time to get out and fish.

Friday, May 06, 2011

fishing report - 5-6-11

Conditions on the North Shore are still favorable.  If you think the run is over, think again.  Though the river levels are coming down, many are still higher than normal and running clear - lots of fish still to be caught.

Here is the latest creel info from the DNR:

From 5/2 through 5/5, water temperatures ranged from 35 to 45 in the morning and 46 to 47 in the afternoon on the Lower and Middle Shore, while they were 43 to 45 in the afternoon on the Upper Shore.

 Interviewed anglers caught 11 Steelhead, 30 Kamloops, and 25 Suckers on the Lower Shore, 12 Steelhead, 2 Kamloops, and 1 Brook Trout on the Middle Shore, and 9 Steelhead, 1 Kamloops, and 4 Brook Trout on the Upper Shore.  The Knife Trap totals are 363 Steelhead and 21 Kamloops, while French River Trap totals are 704 Kamloops and 79 Steelhead.

Stream flows shorewide are decreasing, but running with above average clear flows.

DNR Fishing reports are updated on the web on Mondays and Fridays at or
by calling our office at 218-525-0853 and selecting 1 for the updated fishing report

Tuesday, May 03, 2011

Adopt-A-River: Clean up Success!

Pictured here are Minnesota Steelheader staff, DB and TU, posing with some of the trash they picked up during the Sunday Adopt-A-River clean up on the Sucker River.  Though we wish more of you would have been able to give some time, we appreciated the few that showed up to clean up.

We ended up with an estimated 170lbs of trash.  Most of it was drink containers, plastic bags of one sort or another, and cigarette filters.  We also pulled out a fair amount of Styrofoam.  The big items were cast iron drain pipe, steel posts, and an old highway sign.

While removing garbage along the river banks and the adjacent property we appreciated the two anglers that recognized our efforts.  We remain positive that the other 20+ anglers must have just been shy.  As the season moves forward we hope that each of you who walk the banks and water of the Sucker River find energy to pick up and dispose of the trash you discover.

Stay tuned for a post regarding our fall clean up date.  We are working to organize an on-the-water pink salmon seminar along with steelhead water scouting techniques for those that sign up to volunteer for the clean up.

Thanks again to those that stepped up on Sunday your time and energy was greatly appreciated.

Monday, May 02, 2011

Fishing Report 5-2-11

DNR Creel Report:

From 4/29 through 5/1, water temperatures ranged from 38 to 45 in the morning and 45 to 50 in the afternoon on the Lower and Middle Shore, while they were 38 to 39 on the Upper Shore. 

Interviewed anglers caught 16 Steelhead, 22 Kamloops, 1 Brook Trout, and 1 Coho on the Lower Shore, 34 Steelhead, 8 Kamloops, and 3 Brook Trout on the Middle Shore, and 13 Steelhead and 3 Kamloops on the Upper Shore.  The Knife Trap totals are 345 Steelhead and 20 Kamloops, while French River Trap totals are 640 Kamloops and 69 Steelhead.

 Stream flows shorewide rose again on 4/30 with over an inch of rain and are still running high.

Sunday, May 01, 2011

Fishing Report 4-30-11

A couple of the MS staff fished from Thursday through Sunday.  We managed to catch fish on 6 of the 8 rivers we fished, though the numbers were not fantastic, we did enjoy the fish caught. 

We fished mostly the rivers from Two harbors North to the Middle shore rivers.  All the water was high but very fishable and clear, temps were prime two averaging 40 - 44f.  Most of the fish caught were steelhead -fresh females.  The one shown here is s 29.5" bright hen.  She put up a fight worth the whole trip, burning line from my real several times before she was landed.

Saturday brought some rain...wait, lots of rain.  The knife ended up coming up to approx. 1200cfs. by the evening - unfishable.  During the day on Saturday we caught a couple fish on the larger Middle shore rivers and saw several others hooked and caught.  Sunday brought dirty high water from the rain on Saturday, subsequently this brought some tough fishing conditions with it.

We wound down the trip with a morning of fishing on the Sucker River. We managed to get a nice looper in literally the 11th hour prior to joining in on the Adopt-A-River Clean up project.

In a nut shell we estimate that there is still plenty of fishing to come.  The middle and upper shore will still be active with fish for the next week or two.  The lower shore will still get some fish too.  Heck we have caught steelhead over memorial weekend, and June steelhead are not unheard of.

Get out and fish - DB