Best Fly Fishing in Wisconsin

Close-up of a fishing pole beside a serene river in Wisconsin during a tranquil autumn morning.
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Wisconsin’s extensive range of rivers and streams makes it a premiere destination for fly fishing enthusiasts like yourself. The state’s cool, clear waters are fertile grounds for various fish species, particularly trout. Embrace the opportunity to wade in the serene settings of the Midwest while you cast your line for rainbow, brown, and brook trout. Whether you’re a seasoned angler or new to the craft of fly fishing, Wisconsin’s waterways offer an abundant and diverse fishing experience.



Driftless Area

In the heartland of the Midwest, you’ll find the unique geological feature known as the Driftless Area. Spanning parts of Minnesota, Wisconsin, Iowa, and Illinois, this region avoided the flattening effects of the last glacial period, leaving a landscape rippled with limestone bluffs and fertile valleys.

Wisconsin’s Driftless Area is renowned for its exceptional fly fishing opportunities. The region boasts over 13,000 miles of trout streams, fed by cold, clear spring creeks that ensure optimal conditions for natural reproduction of trout.

Notable FeaturesDescription
LimestoneContributes to alkaline water, beneficial for aquatic insects and trout
Spring CreeksProvides consistent temperatures year-round
Trout StreamsHigh density and quality, supporting natural reproduction

When planning your trip, you’ll appreciate the access points available. Wisconsin is known for its generous water access laws, allowing you to enter navigable streams from public lands. Ensure you’re aware of the specific regulations, as they can vary by location.

Here are a few acclaimed fly fishing spots in the Driftless Area:

  • Coulee Region: a cluster of streams, each with its own character.
  • Viroqua: offers a diverse fishing experience, with over 600 miles of class I trout streams in Vernon County alone.

For fly patterns, consider local favorites like the Pink Squirrel and Pass Lake, which are proven to be effective in these waters. To get started in fixed line fly fishing in this region, check out a guide to the Driftless Area.

Your fly fishing adventure in the Driftless Area promises scenic beauty, plentiful trout, and the serene challenge of matching wits with fish in their natural habitat.

Bois Brule River

The Bois Brule River flows gently through a lush forest, with vibrant green trees lining the banks. The water is clear and calm, reflecting the blue sky above. A few fishermen can be seen casting their lines into the river

The Bois Brule River in Wisconsin is a famed destination for fly fishing enthusiasts. Notably, the river stretches for 44 miles, offering diverse fishing experiences as it flows into Lake Superior.

Key Facts:

  • Fly Fishing Season: Opens first Saturday in May through September 30.
  • River Sections: Upper sections are renowned for dry fly fishing, while lower sections cater to steelhead, brown trout, and salmon runs.
  • Special Regulation Area: Enforces a more restrictive bag limit and artificial lures only.

Rods & Reels:

  • Ideal Fly Rods: 7 to 10 ft.
  • Suitable for 7 to 10 weight lines

When fishing the Bois Brule River, it’s important to be equipped with the right gear. Expert recommendations suggest perfect fly rods ranging from 7 to 10 feet, ideal for 7 to 10 weight lines, ensuring that you have the versatility to handle the diversity of fish species in the river.

To comply with local conservation efforts, be mindful of the special regulations that apply to certain sections of the river, including bag limits and the use of artificial lures.

For an unforgettable experience, some sections of the Bois Brule River are best explored in late summer. You can experience memorable moments by drifting with a canoe and casting dry flies as the river meanders through the picturesque Brule River State Forest.

Whether you are a seasoned angler or a beginner, the Bois Brule River’s reputation for exceptional fly fishing ensures a unique and rewarding experience amidst Wisconsin’s natural beauty.

Brule River State Forest

A serene river winds through lush forest, surrounded by tall trees and rocky banks, with a clear blue sky overhead

The Brule River State Forest offers some of the finest fly fishing experiences in Wisconsin. As you explore, you’ll discover a pristine 44-mile river renowned for its populations of rainbow trout, brown trout, and Lake Superior fed steelhead and salmon.

Fishing Regulations:

  • Season: Open from the first Saturday in May through September 30.
  • Bag Limits: Special regulations, such as a daily bag limit of three trout or salmon in total.
  • Lure Restrictions: Only artificial lures permitted in certain areas.

Access Points:

  • Upper River: Ideal for dry fly fishing, emanates tranquility with abundant springs meeting your every cast.
  • Lower River: The historical outlet of glacial Lake Superior, challenges you with deeply incised valleys and strong runs of migratory fish.

Essentials for Your Trip:

  • Fly Rods: 7 to 10 ft. single hand rods for optimal casting.
  • Fly Reels: Durable and reliable to endure the river’s varying conditions.
  • Flies: Local patterns recommended for seasonal hatches.

As you wade through the clear rippling waters, take a moment to absorb the surrounding beauty of the Brule River State Forest. This revered fly fishing destination will not only test your skills but also provide a tranquil yet exhilarating connection to nature.

Remember to check out the Wisconsin DNR regulations for the most updated information before your trip. Happy fishing!

Black Earth Creek

When you’re exploring fly fishing in Wisconsin, Black Earth Creek stands out as a premier destination. Nestled west of Madison, this stream is celebrated for its abundant trout population sustained by its cold, clear spring-fed waters.

Seasonal Insights:

  • Spring: Optimal fly fishing due to numerous hatches.
  • Summer: While levels can be low, fishing remains good, especially near springs.
  • Fall: Continues to be a strong season for fly fishing.

Access Points:

  • West of Middleton: The start of the Black Earth Creek Fishery Area.
  • East of Black Earth: Further downstream access.
  • Entries are clearly marked off US Hwy 14 and County Hwy KP.

You can find that local organizations have significantly contributed to the recovery and enhancement of the creek’s ecosystem, offering promising angling opportunities. In your quest for fly fishing spots, consider trying your hand in the Black Earth Creek, whether you’re new to the sport or an experienced angler seeking a new challenge.

For those seeking a guided experience, there are outfitters like Black Earth Angling Co. providing tailored adventures in the region. Remember that, like all fishing spots, observing local regulations and season dates will ensure a responsible and rewarding fly fishing experience.

Kickapoo River

Fly Fishing on the Kickapoo River presents a captivating experience with the opportunity to catch large brown trout, especially in the fall. The West Fork of the Kickapoo River, in particular, is notable for its improved conditions that promise a worthwhile angling adventure.

When planning your visit, it’s essential to select the right gear to enhance your success rate. Here are the recommended tools:

  • Fly Line: Opt for a 4, 5, or 6 weight line, depending on your preference.
  • Leaders:
    • Dry fly: 9 to 12 ft., 5 or 6X
    • Nymphing: 7½ ft., 3 or 4X
    • Streamers: 0-2X
  • Tippets:
    • Dry fly: 5 or 6X
    • Nymphing: 3 or 4X
    • Streamer: 0-2X

For the choice of rods, consider the Perfect Fly Supreme Four or Superb Five, which are designed to offer you a sublime fly fishing experience.

The stream’s management has been commendable, returning it to its former reputation as one of Wisconsin’s finest. Your experience on the West Fork can be significantly enriched by the serene and scenic surrounds it offers, making it a favorite among fly fishing connoisseurs. For detailed insight into Wisconsin’s regulations for trout fishing, including those that apply to the Kickapoo River, ensure to review the latest guidelines before your trip.

Rush River

When you’re seeking an exceptional fly fishing experience in Wisconsin, the Rush River should not be overlooked. This river is characterized by its classic trout stream features, making it a favorite among fly fishing enthusiasts.

Notable Features:

  • Deep pools
  • Long riffles
  • Flat stretches

These various environments allow for a diverse array of fishing styles. Whether you prefer nymphing, using streamers, or casting dry flies upstream, the Rush River offers ample opportunities for your preferred technique.

Fish Species:

  • Brown Trout
  • Brook Trout

The Rush River is also known for its larger than average trout compared to other regional streams. Fly selection is crucial, and local hatches can dictate what the fish are biting on any given day. You can find more details on the types of flies used in this river at flyfishingwisconsin.com.

The river is accessible throughout with several locations available for you to enter and begin your fishing journey. You are encouraged to consult the Wisconsin Trout Regulations for specific catch and release periods and any other rules that may apply to ensure sustainable fishing practices.

Remember to be mindful of the environment, respect the local rules and wildlife, and enjoy the serene beauty that the Rush River in Wisconsin has to offer.

Root River

When you’re planning your next fly fishing trip in Wisconsin, the Root River is a destination you should not overlook. This river is a 44-mile-long treasure that meanders into Lake Michigan at Racine. The most bountiful section for fishing lies within the first five miles of the river as it moves upstream from the lake.

Fly fishing in the Root River can be particularly rewarding during the steelhead runs, with water levels playing a significant role in success rates. Depending on seasonal migrations, you can find Chinook and Coho Salmon, Lake Run Brown Trout, and Steelhead thriving in these waters.

Here are some of the prime spots in the Root River for fly fishing:

  • Lincoln Park: Known for its easy access and plentiful fish, this area is perfect for beginners looking to cast their lines in hopes of a good catch.
  • Horlick Dam: Geared towards the more seasoned angler, this spot boasts challenging fishing opportunities with impressive rewards.

Before you set out, ensure you’re equipped with the right gear and flies which are proven to be effective for the Root River’s conditions. For updated reports on the river’s conditions and productive flies, keep tabs on local fly fishing reports and information.

Remember, every fishing experience on the Root River is unique, influenced by the season, weather, and the river’s ecosystem. Be prepared for the dynamics of nature, and you’re likely to enjoy a fulfilling fly fishing adventure.

Wisconsin River

Your fly fishing experience in Wisconsin would be remiss without visiting the Wisconsin River. As the longest river in the state, it flows over 430 miles and offers diverse opportunities for anglers. You’ll find an abundant population of fish including smallmouth bass, musky, and northern pike.

Here’s what you need to know about fly fishing in different sections of the Wisconsin River:

  • Upper Section: The landscape here is characterized by smaller streams, perfect for a peaceful day of fishing in a more isolated environment. You’re likely to encounter various trout species.
  • Lower Section: From the Prairie du Sac Dam to the Mississippi River, this part is renowned for its fly fishing-friendly sandbars and shallows. Despite navigation challenges due to its shallowness, the rewards are plentiful for persistent anglers.

When planning your trip, consider these effective flies:

  • Smallmouth Bass: Woolly Buggers, size 4-10
  • Musky: Large Streamers, size 2/0-6/0
  • Northern Pike: Spinner Fly, size 2-6

Safety Tip: Always check local water conditions before your trip as water levels can fluctuate, affecting both accessibility and fish behavior.

If you’re keen on exploring a majestic river, rich in both scenery and biodiversity, the Wisconsin River is a must-visit for any dedicated fly fisher. With the right approach and respect for local regulations, your experience at the Wisconsin River could be both rewarding and unforgettable.

Namekagon River

The Namekagon River is a top-tier destination for fly fishermen in Wisconsin. You will find this waterway in the state’s northern region, where it serves as a tributary to the St. Croix River. Not only is the river accessible, but it also offers a variety of fish, making it a versatile spot for anglers at all levels.

  • Smallmouth Bass: Prominent in these waters, smallmouth bass can be quite the catch, especially during the warmer months. Fly Fishing Wisconsin’s Namekagon River for Big Smallmouth details experiences that highlight the river’s capacity for impressive smallmouth fishing.
  • Musky: Alongside smallmouth bass, the Namekagon is home to musky, providing an exciting challenge for those seeking this elusive fish.

Surrounded by a lush forest, the river’s environment is as serene as it is beautiful, offering a peaceful backdrop to your fishing excursions. As you prepare your gear, understand that the Namekagon’s clear waters might demand a more stealthy approach and refined techniques to successfully lure the fish.

Fly Fishing Gear: While on the river, ensure you have the highest quality gear which can be found at competitive prices, ranging from fly fishing rods to waders. It’s also beneficial to keep an eye out for promotions or deals that might arise. Namekagon River, Wisconsin Fishing Report – Whacking Fatties offers insights into gear and current conditions.

For a comprehensive guide on fly fishing locations in Wisconsin, including the Namekagon River, referring to 14 Best Places to Fly Fish in Wisconsin: Maps Included might serve you well. It’s a hidden gem that pledges not only catches like bass and musky but also the chance to interact with the tranquil and unspoiled nature of Wisconsin’s landscapes.

White River

Crystal clear river flowing through lush green forest. Peaceful and serene, perfect for fly fishing

When you’re seeking a remarkable fly fishing experience in Wisconsin, the White River should be high on your list. This river is renowned for its abundance of Brown Trout, offering an adventure that’s both challenging and rewarding.

Fishing the White River

To maximize your chances of a successful catch on the White River:

  • Launch a Canoe: Accessing prime fishing spots often requires a boat. A canoe allows you to navigate bends and hard-to-reach areas.
  • Time Your Visit: Align your trip with the Hexagenia limbata hatch, a period when the trout feeding activity peaks.

What to Expect

The river’s flow is dynamic, ranging from 6-700 CFs to about 25k CFs, and can change with weather and gate operations. This variability adds to the intrigue and excitement of fishing here.

Regulations and Conservation

You should familiarize yourself with the Wisconsin Trout Regulations to ensure you’re compliant with the current laws, which aim to preserve the natural beauty and ecological balance of the river.

Best Flies for White River

  • Dry Flies: Adams variations work well for Blue-Winged Olives (BWOs).
  • Nymphs and Midges: Small midge patterns, like griffith’s gnats, are effective throughout the year.

Remember, while the White River can grant you an unparalleled fly fishing experience, always respect the local environment to maintain its pristine condition for years to come.

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