ZUMBRO FALLS, Minn - New Year's Day marked the opening of Minnesota's new "Catch and Release Season" for trout fishermen.
Minnesota Trout Unlimited is expecting to see more than 110,000 fishermen between now and mid-April.
"This is the first time I've done it so early and done it this cold," member Dan Callahan says.
Despite the freezing cold temps, four members of Minnesota Trout Unlimited traveled to Zumbro Falls Monday afternoon to fish the ironically named Cold Creek.
"It's actually warmer in the water than it is in the air," Callahan laughs.
How much warmer? Members say the temps below the surface were around 40 degrees. Above the water, temps were sitting well below zero.
"I know when I walk to the car I'm going to turn into a human popsicle," Callahan jokes.
Besides promoting cold water fishing, members were also raising awareness of salt pollution.
A recent DNR survey revealed toxic salt levels in 40 water bodies across the Twin Cities, and members say it's not just a streets department problem.
"We all want safe roads and safe sidewalks, but there are ways to do that and still not be so damaging to the environment," Callahan says.
Home and business owners can also do their part, Callahan says, by using less salt.
The salt is harmful to fish and other aquatic wildlife when it runs off streets and sidewalks and into rivers and streams.
Also, the salt itself, never breaks down.
"It just accumulates and causes more problems for fish and the bugs they eat," Callahan says.
The group is encouraging people to use sand instead of salt this winter.
Members are also reminding people that salt only works when temps are 15 degrees or warmer, and that it's more effective when its applied directly onto the ice itself.
"People should shovel their sidewalks and driveways first so they use less salt," Callahan says.
For more salt saving tips, click here to visit the Minnesota Trout Unlimited website