From native brookies, naturalized browns and even wild rainbows (a rarity in the Midwest), Wisconsin is a little-known trout fisher's paradise.
Northern Wisconsin is steeped in trout fishing lore, and past generations heralded the Brule, Namekogan and White Rivers as some of the best trout waters in the US because of the size the fish they'd produce, the wilderness along their banks, and the famous Hexagenia Limbata mayfly hatch in midsummer. In more recent times, for reasons unknown, Northern Wisconsin's famous trout waters are often overlooked. *Spoiler Alert: They're still awesome! Sporting a predictable array of insect hatches, the trout in these rivers have a diverse appetite. But that's not to say they're easy...landing a large wild brown from the cold, clear waters of the Upper Brule will test the best anglers' skills, and eager native brookies along the way make for a fun balance. The most famous hatch is undoubtedly the"Hex" hatch, which occurs around the first week of July, depending on summer conditions. These 2"+ long mayflies hatch an hour or so after dusk on muggy summer nights, followed sometimes by a spinner fall around midnight-1AM with bugs numbering in the thousands (if not millions). Fishing is done by a combination of instincts and sound, and suffice it to say, this is possibly your best shot of the year at a monster wild brown. Many has been the night we trudged back from the truck at 2 AM wet, tired, full of mosquito bites, and grinning from ear to ear from a great night of Hex fishing. In addition to the better known rivers, the Bayfield Peninsula and surrounding area is full of hidden gems, each containing its unique lineage of wild trout.
The creeks draining into the Lower Chippewa and Mississippi Rivers, encompassing what geologically could be described as the northern edge of the Driftless Region, are beautifully clear, gurgling over a mix of limestone, sand, and aquatic vegetation. They are rich in insect life, and many contain scuds and sowbugs, meaning we often employ spring creek skills and fly patterns. During summer, terrestrial fishing is arguably the most action-packed fishing of the season, followed by a nighttime mouse bite once the last glow of sun has left the sky. Expect to catch a mix of brook and brown trout on most streams. Because of this mix, Wisconsin is one of the best places in the world to luck into a wild tiger trout, among the most beautiful creatures on the planet. Hatches abound as well, and for the devout dry fly angler, Western Wisconsin's pastureland creeks offer an endless array of opportunity. We use the beautiful city of Eau Claire as our base for most of these trips which, in addition to outstanding fishing, contains great food, music, coffee, and nightlife.