8 Best Places for Fly Fishing in Wisconsin – Where to Fish WI

fly fishing wisconsin

Wisconsin borders the Great Lakes and it is also home to over 13,000 miles of trout streams scattered all over the state. With so much water, this state is a fly fisher’s paradise aond one that needs to be fished at least once.

In this article we run through everything you need to know in order to fly fish Wisconsin. From the best spots to how to access them and the flies you’ll need in your waterproof fly box, we have it all!

Best Places for Fly Fishing Wisconsin

1. Rush River

Rush River

The Rush River is one of the top Wisconsin fly fishing spots for fly anglers who want to catch large fish and aren’t so fussed about the numbers.

The summertime heat causes the Root to warm up and with it comes a ton of food for the fish to gorge on and grow fat before winter.

You will find brown trout and brook trout in this trout stream and your chances of catching a large trout of up to 20+ inches is a reality.

The best way for fly fishers to target the brown and brook trout is via wading as the river is typically quite low and it’s one of the smaller trout streams for fly fishing in Wisconsin. That being said, there is enough flow to use a canoe but this is not a stealthy method of fly fishing.

An added bonus to spending a day fly fshing on this river are the stunning sights that go with it such as beautiful limestone outcrops which are wonderful to stare at while you think about what fly to put on next.

Make sure you carry a good pair of wading boots with you as you will be spending almost all day on your feet in the river. You can also see our post here on the Best Wading Boots for more selection.

Where To Fish On The Rush

The best spots for fly fishing on the Rush River are in the area between Martell and Baldwin in the Rush River Wildlife Area which you will find on the map below.

https://goo.gl/maps/uj9PPBPqaPzK3Fhm7

You will find easy access at the public access points toward the northeast corner of the area, giving you around 1.2 miles of stream to wade.

Recommended Flies For The Rush

  • Black Caddis (first hatch in Spring)
  • Grey Leech
  • Wooly Bugger
  • Parachute Adams
  • Klinkhammer
  • Various nymphs

2. Black Earth Creek

Black Earth Creek

The Black Earth Creek is one of the delightful trout streams that make traveling for some Wisonsic fly fishing a real pleasure for fly anglers.

You will find this trout stream near Madison and it is one of the few streams with a good population of brown trout that is self-sustaining. If you catch fish in the brown trout section you can be sure that they are wild.

The lower section of this creek is also stocked with rainbow trout so you can fly fish for them too. It’s always nice when creeks have a variety of species in them as it makes the trout fishing more interesting in my opinion.

There is a fly fishing section on this trout stream which is, without doubt, the place to fish. You will find it below on the map. It is open from March 5th to September and it’s best waded.

Over the summer months, there can be some extremely exciting dry fly fishing on this stream, especially with terrestrials. It’s something all anglers should experience on their next trip to explore Wisconsin fly fishing.

Where To Fish On This Creek

The fly fishing section near South Valley Road in Mitchell is the place to be. Fish it until you get to Park Street. You can also access the stream at Festge County Park which is further downstream.

https://goo.gl/maps/2QJ4ZomWi6skcUvR8

Recommended Flies For This Creek

  • Ants
  • Hoppers
  • Beatles
  • Parachute Adams
  • Royal Wulff
  • Pheasant Tail Nymphs
  • Elk Hair Caddis
  • Prince Nymphs
  • Copper Johns

3. Lower Wisconsin River

Lower Wisconsin River

The Lower Wisconsin River is an amazing smallmouth and pike river, perhaps the best in the entire state. The warmer waters provide all the natural resources these fish need to thirve and it’s awlays fun fly fishing for different species other than trout.

Thiswarm water fishery doesn’t wall year round though and would will want to fish it between May through October.

You’ll want a 7 weight fly rod and to use larger flies to tempt the smallmouth and pike out of their hiding places. They are amazing fish to catch on a fly and a very different game to catching trout. Try adding a sink tip to your fly rod to get the flies down in deeper water.

The Lower Wisconsin is a fairly slow-moving river that is easier to fly fish from a kayak or float tube since it’s one of the wider rivers in Wisconsin.

For a selection of fishing kayaks and float tubes, see our Best Fishing Kayak Under $1000 and Best Float Tube For Fly Fishing here.

The beautiful scenery surrounding the river only adds to your fly fishing Wisconsin experience and if you land fish, your smile will be from cheek to cheek.

Where To Fish On The Lower Wisconsin

To reach the Lower Wisconsin, you can head over to Prairie du Sac at the VFW launch or to Sauk City via Highway 12. See the map below for more details.

https://goo.gl/maps/NfEHeEbPcap8AGZ77

Recommended Flies For The Lower Wisconsin

  • Boogle Bug (bass)
  • 3M Minnow (bass)
  • Jared’s Outlaw streamer (pike)

4. Kickapoo River West Fork

Kickapoo River West Fork

The West Fork of the Kickapoo River is located in the driftless region of Wisconsin and it is a delightful stream to fish.

This section the river is a catch and release only fishing section where you will find a pretty amazing brown trout population in the river.

However, you have to be very careful when fishing at West Fork not to scare the trout as they are wise to fly fishermen having been cuaght and released many times. Don’t wade, only fish from the bank.

As with most trout, these ones love obstacles. You should throw flies towards the opposing bank and lure the fish out to feed. Nymphs tend to work best but you should also match the hatch and it is always worth casting a streamer when the sun goes below the horizon.

Where To Fish On The Kickapoo

An excellent place to access this river is on the map below. You can park you car and head up or downstream as you please.

https://goo.gl/maps/DcxyXWTtjMpJShcd7

Recommended Flies For The Kickapoo

  • BWO
  • Little Black Caddis
  • Pheasant Tail Nymphs
  • Copper Johns
  • Prince Nymphs
  • Hare’s Ears

5. Pine River

Pine River

This is one of three wild rivers in Wisconsin that you absolutely must go to while fly fishing Wisconsin.

The Pine River was declared a wild river in 1965 and has since maintained its natural condition. As a result, the area is quite natural and it’s a stunning place to fly fish. The river is home to some great species too including brook trout, brown trout, and smallmouth bass.

The river is not managed and therefore some technical casting will be needed to avoid snagging the foliage behind you. Your best best is to get in the river and stay in it as this will allow you to fish with some space behind you.

During mid-summer this river is rife with mosquitos which make the trout go wild on the surface but be sure to bring some bug spray too or you will end up being a part of the food chain.

Where To Fish On The Pine River

You will find the most trout in the Pine River System Fishery Area and this is the best place to start fly fishing from. You will find it on the map below.

https://goo.gl/maps/7eDmeRVdQNzH2yKK8

Recommended Flies For The Pine River

  • Wooly Bugger
  • Mosquito flies
  • Parachute Adams
  • Pheasant Tail Nymphs
  • Copper Johns
  • Prince Nymphs
  • Hare’s Ears

6. The Bois Brule River

The Bois Brule River

The Bois Brule River in Wisconsin is a 44-mile trout fishery, famous for brown and rainbow trout plus it there salmon and steelhead near to the outflow at Lake Superior.

The Bois Brule River has some of the best views in Northeast Wisconsin to fly fish next to. It is relatively easy to access and is a favortie fly fishing spot in Wisconsin.

The 44-mile-long stretch is divided into sections so you can easily find where you need to go. The mouth of the river around Lake Superior and all along Highway 2 is full of big salmon and steelhead.

The other spots we recommend are just below Highway 2 where you’ll find mainly brown trout and rainbows. Finally, you can head over to Brule Dam in Wisconsin in the Forest State Natural Area. This is a spectacular spot, full of fish.

The best flies to use on the Bois Brule river are the Burnt Wulff, especially on the Upper Brule. We also recommend a Peacock Herl or Burnt Orange Floss. If you want to land steelheads, try a Superior X-legs, Kaufman’s Brown Stonefly, or egg patterns.

Make sure to adhere to the Brule Trout Fishing Regulations [1] to make sure you are on the right side of the law.

7. Kinnickinnic River

Kinnickinnic River

The Kinnickinnic is yet another river in the driftless area of Wisconsin and it stretches to Prairie du Chien from La Crosse.

The river has the highest population of trout in the Midwest. The brookies and browns have been repopulating well over the years, especially since 1973, with about 5,000 to 10,000 trout per mile.

The densest population of the fish in the stream can be found in the upper section and it’s easy to access from Kinnickinnic River State Park.

The best flies to use on the Kinnickinnic river are Midges or Blue Winged Olive as with most other rivers in this part of Southwestern Wisconsin.

8. Root River

Root River

The Root River is situated 20 miles south of Milwaukee and is a premium fly fishing river. This proximity to Milwaukee means that it does get fished a lot, so be prepared to meet other fly fishermen.

It has a fish-weir dam, which traps enough fish for breeding to sustain a healthy population si there are pleant of fish willing to take a fly. The location is especially great for beginners as gives them a chance to have a glimpse of what fly fishing is all about with a really chance of succcess too.

The best spots to fish the Root are in Colonial or Lincoln Park and it is best waded. The best flies for the Root are Tungsten Stoneflies. We recommend you check out the Root fishing report before heading out too [2].

Local Fly Shops In Wisconsin

There is no better way of starting a fishing trip than by heading to a local fly shop. By chatting to the staff you will know what’s happening on the nearby rivers, where to fish, and they will sell you the right flies to use too. Here are some fly shops to head to:

Recommended Guides In Wisconsin

If you want to start your Wisconsin fly fishing trip with a bang, go out with a fly fishing guide. They will have you using the right flies and fishing the right water out of the gate which you can then replicate for the rest of your trip. Here are some great guides in Wisconsin:

Wisconsin Fishing Licenses & Regulations

Everyone needs a fishing license to fish in Wisconsin unless they are under 15 years of age. You can buy a season license or a day licence, and prices differ depending if you are a Wisconsin resident or not.

You can buy a license online here or buy one at one of these many Wisconsin locations.

As with fishing almost anywhere in the world, there are rules you have to follow. Here are the state rules. You should also check for any local rules at each fishery you intend to cast a line at as they can change from one to the next.

Wrap Up

Thanks for reading my artcile about fly fishing In Wisconsin. I hope you enjoyed it and now have all the fly fishing knowledge you need to go out and crush it.

Between the many classified trout streams, rivers, creeks, and lakes, it’s a very fishy state to go fly fishing in. You can also add the Great Lakes to your itinerary and fish the streams and rivers that flow out of Lake Michigan and the othger Great Lakes which we didn’t have space to cover.

Please drop us a comment or any questions below and get in touch to let us know how your Wisconsi fly fishing adventure went down!

References

[1] https://dnr.wisconsin.gov/topic/Fishing/lakesuperior/boisbrulefishing.html

[2] https://dnr.wisconsin.gov/topic/Fishing/lakemichigan/ROOTRIVERREPORT.html

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