Regional Trout Waters

Minnesota’s trout waters take many shapes, including rivers, streams and lakes.  Native brook trout and lake trout are found across the state as well as rainbow and brown trout and a variety of pacific salmon species.  Minnesota is unique as an intersection of three continental biomes, and allows anglers to find prairie limestone trout streams as well as high gradient freestone streams flowing through boreal forest in the same state.  Explore some of our treasured resources and learn where you might wet a line or help conserve our waters for the next generation.


Southeast Minnesota Spring Creeks

South Branch of the Root River

South Branch of the Root River

When anglers talk of coming to Minnesota to fish “spring creeks” they are referring to the hundreds of miles of high quality, productive trout waters located in Southeast Minnesota.  Geographically, the Driftless area includes parts of Wisconsin and Iowa as well, and both have similar trout waters.  These streams generally contain wild brown trout, though some have native brook trout as well, and a few host stocked rainbow trout.   The majority of MNTU’s habitat improvement efforts are targeted here, in cooperation with national Trout Unlimited’s Driftless Area Restoration Effort, or DARE and the Minnesota DNR.

Maps: MN DNR Southern MN Trout Stream Maps

Threats: Silica Sand Mining and Asian Carp


Bob Wagner Fishing Northern MN Trout Lakes

Bob Wagner Fishing Northern MN Trout Lakes

Northern Minnesota Trout Lakes

The majority of trout lakes in Minnesota are located in the northern part of the state.  They fall primarily into two categories: wild native lake trout lakes and stocked “stream trout” lakes that contain stocked splake or brook, brown or rainbow trout.   A fragile resource, they all depend upon their watersheds and surrounding areas to maintain the clean, clear and cold high quality water that trout need to thrive.  Minnesota’s largest lake, Lake Superior is a top-notch trout lake hosting many different trout and salmon species.

Maps: MN DNR – MN Trout Lakes

Threats: Sulfide Mining and VHS



Northern Minnesota – Freestone Northwoods Streams


Northern MN Brook Trout

Over a thousand miles of trout streams flow through the forests of Northern Minnesota.  For the most part, they are brook trout streams, though there are exceptions and areas that hold brown trout.  The streams are heavily dependent on the forests in the their watersheds to keep stream temperatures low enough for good trout survival, and to keep sediment out of the stream beds.

Maps: MN DNR Northern MN Trout Stream Maps

Threats: Beaver, Sulfide Mining and VHS



NE Minnesota – Lake Superior Tributary Streams

North Shore chrome

North Shore Wild Steelhead

The tributaries that flow from Minnesota into Lake Superior are a special set of streams and rivers that host the only anadromous, or lake-run, populations of fish in the state.  Wild steelhead comprise the majority of these fish, originating from sources originally stocked in the late 1800s.  A remnant but growing population of native “coaster” brook trout also uses these waters, and MNTU has put much effort into the the management of both of these wild populations of fish.  Stocked kamloops rainbows and wild brown trout as well as pink, coho and chinook salmon can also be found in these streams and rivers.

Maps: MN DNR Northern MN Trout Stream Maps

Threats: Sulfide Mining, Beaver, VHS, Ballast Water,and Sea Lamprey

Articles: Minnesota Historical Society – Fishing Clubs Along the Baptism River by John E. Hunt