FARMINGTON, Minn. (WCCO) — Spring has sprung on a meandering river that stretches across the south metro.

With dip nets heavy with trout, it is time for the annual stocking of rainbows that makes the Vermillion River so popular.

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“There’s a lot of really nice state land, open, plenty of access,” said T.J. DeBates, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources’ east metro fisheries manager. “That’s where we’re going to be putting a lot of these extra trout.”

DeBates and his crews will dip thousands of hatchery-raised rainbow trout from temperature-controlled, stainless-steel tanks. Within minutes they will be released into the cold Vermillion waters.

It is work that creates a rare trout-fishing haven, mere miles from the heart of the metro.

“Generally it’s going to get 3,000 trout in the spring every year, where before it only got 1,000 within the city of Farmington. Now we’re getting 3,000 from here all the way down to [Highway] 52,” DeBates said.

(credit: CBS)

(credit: CBS)

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A recent change in Minnesota’s trout fishing regulations will allow anglers to keep rainbow trout along a longer stretch of the river — and not just within the city of Farmington.

“The other kind of key part of the new regs is all brown trout have to be released,” DeBates said.

Just mere minutes from their new found freedom, rainbows start rising to the surface, searching out a morning morsel to eat.

An enticing snack, that anglers young and old soon dream, will be at the end of their line.

“Just a lot better land-use practices has allowed us to create these cold water fisheries. They become … better habitat and therefore we can stock trout and actually provide an opportunity for folks, you know, that’s so close to the metro,” he said.

While the river is known for its naturally-reproducing and trophy brown trout, the rainbows are only present thanks to the DNR’s annual stocking program.

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The trout fishing season opens on Saturday, April 16.