DNR reports busy waters, mixed success, variety of violations during river fishing opener

The St. Croix River has been busy since the walleye and sauger season started last Saturday.




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Anglers near Franconia recently. (Greg Seitz, St. Croix 360)

Walleye and sauger fishing on the St. Croix River opened up last Saturday to coincide with Wisconsin’s opener, a week before Minnesota. With fishing license sales up significantly right now due to COVID-19, and nice weather, the river was very busy.


Here are some highlights (and lowlights) from Minnesota conservation officer reports:

  • Chris Tetrault (Maplewood) worked the walleye and northern pike opener on the lower St. Croix River. A lot of people were enjoying the nice weather even though the bite was not as great. Most boaters were out for the first time of the season. Please ensure that prior to boating you have all required safety equipment and know the local boating laws. Campers were found in the Afton State Park. The camping portion of the park still remains closed. Enforcement action was taken for family dogs in a Scientific Natural Area, creating a wake in a no-wake zone, insufficient PFDs in a watercraft and keeping smallmouth bass out of season.
  • Scott Arntzen (Forest Lake) reports working the St. Croix river fishing opener and finding that many anglers had success. He also spent time patrolling William O’Brien State Park and continued checking turkey hunters. Violations for the week included fishing without a license, possessing bass during the closed season, insufficient number of PFDs and registration issues.
  • Joe Kulhanek (Hastings) spent a very busy weekend working anglers on the St. Croix River. Anglers were out in high numbers with very little success observed. Enforcement action for the week included slow no-wake violations, not enough life jackets, expired boat and ATV registration and operating an ATV on a highway.
  • Bret Grundmeier (Hinckley) found high numbers of people out at popular shore-fishing spots. Several people were caught targeting bass out of season and trying to bring them home. One individual was found sitting on his 5-gallon pail with his fishing pole hidden in the grass a few feet away. After initially refusing to stand up from the pail, he finally had to get up to retrieve his billfold and ID, which revealed a few smallmouth bass inside the pail. Another group was caught hustling through the woods, to their truck, with a pail containing over a dozen smallmouth bass.
  • Ben Karon (Pine City) spent time checking anglers. Many citations were issued in the area for fishing without a license and taking bass and walleyes out of season. The Minnesota/Wisconsin fishing opener was worked on the St. Croix River. A lot of garbage is being left on shore from anglers. Please clean up after yourselves.

St. Croix River fishing seasons and possession limits

Entire river

Walleye5/2/20 – 3/1/216 in combination with Sauger, 15″ minimum length
Sauger5/2/20 – 3/1/216 in combination with Walleye
Northern Pike5/2/20 – 3/1/215
Channel CatfishContinuous10, total in combination with Flathead Catfish
Flathead Catfish4/1/20 – 11/30/2010, total in combination with Channel Catfish
BullheadContinuousNo limit
Rough FishContinuousNo limit
White and Yellow BassContinuous25 combined
Rock BassContinuous25
PaddlefishNo open season
Shovelnose Sturgeon6/16/20 – 3/1/21Catch-and-release, no tag needed

Upper St. Croix (Above dam)

Lake Sturgeon6/16/20 – 3/1/21Catch-and-release, no tag needed
Largemouth and Smallmouth Bass5/23/20 – 9/13/205, 14″ minimum
Largemouth and Smallmouth Bass9/14/20 – 3/1/21Catch-and-release

Lower St. Croix (Dam to Prescott)

Lake Sturgeon6/16/20 – 9/4/20Catch-and-release, no tag needed
Lake Sturgeon9/5/20 – 9/30/201 per calendar year, minimum 60″, tag needed
Lake Sturgeon10/1/20 – 3/1/21Catch-and-release, no tag needed
Largemouth and Smallmouth Bass5/23/20 – 3/1/215, 14″ minimum

Border water FAQs

Here is information about fishing Wisconsin border waters from the Minnesota DNR:

To what waters do these regulations apply?

Seasons and regulations apply to the Mississippi River (downstream of the highway bridge in Prescott, WI, and all waters between the Burlington Northern [Wisconsin] and Canadian Pacific [Minnesota] railroad tracks), Lake Pepin, St. Croix River, Lake St. Croix, St. Louis River, St. Louis Bay and Superior Bay.

Are daily and possession limits different?

Daily and possession limits are the same.

How many lines and hooks can I use?

Two lines with a single lure or bait on each are permitted. If fishing with one line, you may use two baits.

What if I snag a fish?

Fish hooked in any part of the body, except the mouth, must be returned to the water immediately.

Can I fish with a bow and arrow?

Minnesota bowfishing regulations are allowed only on Minnesota’s portion of the border waters if they differ from Wisconsin regulations.

Can I return fish to the water after I keep them?

Yes. You may release live fish (sort) anytime.

Where can’t I fish?

From Taylors Falls (St. Croix Falls) dam to 50 feet downstream from the pier in center of river.


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If you have any questions, please email greg@stcroix360.com


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DNR reports busy waters, mixed success, variety of violations during river fishing opener