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Our Twin Cities Trout Unlimited (TCTU) chapter includes over 2000 volunteers. We work at the local and state level to restore trout streams such as the Vermillion River in Lakeville and Farmington. Together with the other six other chapters that form Minnesota Trout Unlimited (MNTU), we’ve restored more than 40 miles of trout streams across the state, raising money to fund construction costs, and donating volunteer labor, all in cooperation with the MNDNR.
Our mission is to “conserve, protect, restore, and sustain coldwater fisheries and their watersheds.” That includes educating local and state lawmakers about the nonpartisan goal of caring for Minnesotan’s public waters, and conserving natural resources now, and for the generations that will follow us.
We hold regular events such as free clinics to learn how to fly fish and presentations on where to catch trout in the metro area. We also volunteer to teach fly tying and educate people about our water resources through events such as the Dakota County Fair, the State Fair, and local celebrations.
From Trout Run in Troy, to Hay Creek in Red Wing, to the Vermillion River in Lakeville and Farmington, the positive environmental impact we’ve made on these resources is incredible. We not only have rebuilt riverbanks, which keeps sediment from washing downstream into rivers such as the Minnesota, St. Croix and Mississippi, but we’ve also restored adjoining native prairies: 12 acres of praire for every mile of stream we restore. Restoration starts with protecting the land that sheds water to a stream–its “watershed.” Protecting the landscape also protects wildlife habitat.
TCTU members know that to preserve these valuable resources for future generations, we must educate, engage and involve our youth.
- Trout In the Classroom: In 2015, MNTU began a three-year program to bring watershed education into Minnesota schools. The program was piloted in 10 schools and has grown to 17 schools in 2016. Check out the Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/mntutic/info
- T.U.N.E Camp (The Ultimate Nature Experience) We also partner with Pheasants Forever and their Minnesota Lady Slippers chapter to develop youth programs which give kids the opportunity get a blend of fun outdoor experiences while learning about the value and importance of preserving and restoring fish and wildlife habitat.
TCTU also extends its reach beyond conservation, into our community, with special projects such as:
- Project Healing Waters: Designed for the rehabilitation of disabled active military service personnel and veterans through the sport of fly fishing.
- Casting for Recovery: Provides an opportunity for women whose lives have been profoundly affected by breast cancer to experience physical, emotional, and spiritual healing through retreats in a beautiful natural setting; and learn fly fishing, a sport for life.
June 2021 Chapter Update
My name is Bob Luck and I was elected President of TCTU in February. I retired from a business career a few years ago, and I decided it might be a good idea to break up my fishing trips with volunteering for Trout Unlimited. It has been a great experience—TU has great people and a great mission, and Minnesota is a terrific place for us to make a difference. I believe the Twin Cities is the best big city in the U.S. to be based in if you are a trout angler. We have some great streams with naturally reproducing trout populations within the metro area itself, and we are a short drive from two world-class fisheries: Lake Superior and its tributaries, and the spring creeks of the Driftless Area. Minnesota has good public access to waters, public funding for stream improvement, and a strong conservation ethic. But those of you who have been involved with TU longer than I have already knew all that!
Just like other chapters, the COVID-19 pandemic presented us with challenges in achieving our mission, as we had to close down many in-person educational and conservation events. We were able to move our chapter meetings to Zoom, and actually saw increased attendance. Evan Griggs was our featured speaker for our May chapter meeting, talking about “Urban and Uncommon Fly Fishing.” If you want to learn how to catch carp, bass or bluegills on a fly, check out Evan’s talk on our YouTube Channel (search TCTU). After our summer break, we plan to restart chapter meetings in September with in-person meetings (yay) that will also include a Zoom link.
As Minnesota opens up, we have begun to expand our in-person activities.
TCTU volunteers worked on our first habitat improvement project in over a year on the South Branch of the Vermillion. A team of volunteers worked with Mark Nemeth of the DNR to remove buckthorn and replace invasive reed canary grass with native grasses and wildflowers. The South Branch has seen over 5000 feet of habitat work in the past few years, as well as planting of native prairies in the surrounding uplands. It is a jewel of a stream less than 30 minutes’ drive from the State Capitol. As things open more, we expect to get going on more habitat projects. Contact our Habitat Coordinator, Steve Kaukola at firstname.lastname@example.org if you’d like to volunteer or have questions.
We have started to pilot a Streamkeepers program on three Metro streams: The South Branch of the Vermillion, Trout Brook and Hay Creek. The idea behind this is to have a team of volunteers for each stream to keep an eye on things, monitor water quality, pick up occasional litter, and report on stream conditions to our membership. In the future, we will look at adding more activities, such as communicating with landowners or organizing volunteer events, as well as increasing the number of streams we cover. Hopefully we can get a cool t-shirt at some point as well. To monitor water quality, our Streamkeepers are using WiseH2O, a smartphone app that, combined with water testing strips, allows measurement of key analytes such as Nitrates, Nitrites, Phosphorous, pH and hardness. WiseH2O was first piloted in Wisconsin by our sister chapter KiapTuWish, and we are looking forward to expanding it to Minnesota. Our Streamkeepers also volunteered to work with students to test water quality using WiseH2O at a number of Trout in the Classroom trout releases on the Vermillion River in Farmington and Brown’s Creek in Stillwater. It was terrific to see how much the students had already learned about water quality in the process of raising trout from eggs to fry. If you have questions about Streamkeepers or WiseH2O, please contact Jim Sauter at email@example.com.
Our in-person outreach programs are also starting to gear up as more COVID-related restrictions are lifted. The volunteer opportunity that I am personally most excited about is the Fishing Skills Program, a partnership between MNTU and TCTU to teach fishing to youth and families in Twin Cities area parks. We will also be providing fly casting lessons for TU members and friends at three events this summer. If you are interested in volunteering to teach fishing, or would like to know more about our fly casting lessons, please contact Gary Wittrock at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The caddis hatch is in the rearview mirror, but the sulphurs should be arriving soon. With no big rainfall events so far (fingers crossed) the streams are in great shape. Enjoy your summer and hope to see you on the water!