FARMINGTON, Minn. (WCCO) – After the long, cold, snowy winter it would be hard to blame anyone for avoiding weekend chores and picking up a fishing pole, and that’s what thousands of eager Minnesota anglers did on Saturday.

The annual trout fishing season got underway Saturday under cloudy, yet mild conditions.

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“It’s just nice to be able to get out here and walk. To get outside and try to get away from the crowds,” angler Travis Johnson said.

Johnson and his fishing partner, John Hestness, were working a stretch of the Vermillion River through Dakota County. With their spinning rods in hand they grabbed a box of night crawlers and headed out.

While crawlers might be their bait of choice when trying for trout, the real secret lies in the approach to the stream.

Trout can be spooked rather easily so it’s wise to walk gently and quietly.

That and patience, Hestness adds.

Since 2005, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources has purchased and restored nearly 10 miles of Vermillion River shoreline. The river was once seen as unfit for game fish, but now hides trophies stalking the undercut banks.

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“They’ve taken four and five pound trout out of it when they do their surveys. And that’s amazing to think there’s a blue ribbon trout stream an hour from downtown,” angler Dan Callahan said.

Callahan and his fishing buddy, Mark Johnson are both TU members and avid fly anglers. On opening day they were on the prowl for big browns.

As purists, they were tossing imitations into the cold and gin clear water. Callahan’s use of a deer hair muddler minnow is tied to simulate the stream’s natural baitfish.

“Just try to get your fly where you want it to go, that’s a victory. And if a fish bites…great,” Callahan said.

With money collected from trout stamps and licenses, the DNR stocks fish where there’s little or no natural reproduction.

Putting fish in the water gives opportunities to be out in nature after nature’s worst weather kept many inside.

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For more information on Minnesota Trout Unlimited, click here.