Anglers who fish in Sherburne, Stearns and Wright counties benefit from the management, habitat and oversight work of the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources' Sauk Rapids area fisheries staff.
Area Fisheries Supervisor Joe Stewig and a staff of three full-time employees manage 150 fishing lakes and 260 miles of rivers and streams. These waters include popular fishing destinations such as Big Watab, the Sauk River Chain of Lakes, Sugar Lake and the Mississippi River south of St. Cloud.
Sauk Rapids Area staff showing off four solid walleyes captured during an ice out assessment on a popular local lake.
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Virtually all the work of the Sauk Rapids area fisheries staff is funded by money raised through fishing license sales. But reductions in buying power due to increasing costs for products, services and equipment have put this work and the recreational opportunities it creates at risk.
In response, the DNR is seeking a fishing license fee increase in the 2017 legislative session. The increase would raise the price of a resident annual fishing license from $22 to $25. Other fishing license types also would increase. The proposed increases should sustain existing fisheries operations until 2021.
The increase for an individual license – roughly the price of a scoop of minnows – may fill some existing vacancies but will not create any new positions. It will simply sustain existing programs and area office budgets, many of which already are reduced.
State law prohibits tax dollars, including funds generated by the Minnesota Legacy Amendment and Minnesota State Lottery, from funding area fisheries offices and the core work they do. Fisheries management that creates world-class fishing here in Minnesota is a user-funded, user-benefit system.
General hunting and fishing license fees were last increased in 2012 at an amount designed to keep game and fish operations solvent for about six years. Prior to that, it had been 10 years since the last general fee increase. Periodic fee increases – one about every five years since 1970 – are how Minnesota funds routine fisheries management. Many fishing organizations traditionally have supported periodic fee increases because high-quality fishing is recreation worth paying for.
In November 2016, the Game and Fish Fund Budget Oversight Committee – a citizen group that monitors the DNR's fisheries, wildlife and enforcement revenues and expenditures – recommended that the Legislature increase fishing and hunting license fees during the 2017 legislative session.
The DNR's fisheries section has a long tradition of belt-tightening. Statewide, staff size is down about 13 percent from roughly a decade ago. Moreover, the section is holding an additional 24 vacancies, most of which will not be filled even with fee increase. This means it is common for field offices to have fewer employees and leaner budgets than they once did.
Welcome to the Sauk Rapids Fisheries Management Area. Our office manages the lakes, rivers, and streams in Wright, Stearns, and Sherburne Counties in Central Minnesota. We actively manage the fisheries on 150 lakes, 60 miles of the Mississippi River, over 200 miles of warm water rivers, one trout lake, and five trout streams. Our work area is in the heart of bass/bluegill territory in central MN; furthermore, the Mississippi River from St. Cloud to Anoka is home to one of the greatest Smallmouth Bass fisheries in the state! In addition to Largemouth and Smallmouth Bass and Bluegill, there are excellent opportunities to target Walleye, Northern Pike, Muskellunge, Black Crappie, Brook Trout, Channel Catfish, and Common Carp. Three state record fish have come from this area including White Crappie, Greater Redhorse, and Common Carp. On this site you can find information about recent surveys, fish stockings, special regulations, and other useful information. If you have any questions feel free to e-mail or call in.
|Joe Stewig||Area firstname.lastname@example.org|
|Jason Neuman||Assistant area email@example.com|
|Mark Pelham||Fisheries firstname.lastname@example.org|
|Josh Wickstrom||Fisheries email@example.com|