Wisconsin’s more than 10,000 miles of trout streams, creeks and rivers are famous for cold, clean waters thick with trout and other game fish caught on the fly. Less than a hundredth of one percent of the world’s water is cold and pure enough to harbor trout, and you’ll find many of them in our state. Whether you’re new to the sport or a professional, read on to find the perfect spot to cast off from with your buddies.
Kinnickinnic River – River Falls
Maybe the most famous trout stream in the state is the Kinnickinnic River, a Class I trout stream that stays vibrant through the work of Trout Unlimited, the Kinnickinnic River Land Trust, and the Western Wisconsin Land Trust. With between 6,000 and 8,000 trout per mile, many access points including in the River Falls area including Kinnickinnic State Park, and a prime location about a half hour east of the Twin Cities, the “Kinni” is a favorite of fly fishers of all levels.
Looking for guides who know the area? Check out Kinni Creek Lodge & Outfitters to plan a guided fly-fishing trip, kayak tour or overnight camping adventure.
Namekagon River – Cable
With its beginnings near Cable, the Namekagon River is known for its wild brown and brook trout varieties. It’s natural beauty and great fishing have been the inspiration for writers like Ernest Schwiebert and Gordon MacQuarrie. Get your friends together and try your luck at any of the many access spots along this river that stretches for 95 miles, and stock up on gear at Wild River Outfitters in Grantsburg.
Bois Brule River – Brule
The Bois Brule River is a legendary trout stream that flows north to Lake Superior and is world famous because five sitting presidents (Coolidge, Grant, Cleveland, Hoover, and Eisenhower) have fished its waters (and, legend has it, Rosalynn Carter without Jimmy!). Stay at the nearby Bois Brule Campground or Copper Range Campground for an ideal fishing trip with friends.
Kickapoo River West Fork – Viroqua
The west fork of the Kickapoo River is a 24-mile spring-fed waterway in Wisconsin’s unglaciated Coulee Country near La Crosse that's popular for its abundant trout. Explore more of the Kickapoo Valley’s other trout streams and tributaries to discover scenic hilly countryside, Amish farms, rich orchards, and plenty of fresh produce stands, or rent a kayak from Kickapoo Wild Adventures to enjoy the landscape from the water.
Pike River – Marinette County
Pike River is one of four designated Wisconsin Wild Rivers, meaning no motorized vehicles or camping are permitted in order to keep the landscape pristine. The Pike is deep and cold, with stretches of whitewater rapids and expansive forests, and is home to brown, rainbow, and brook trout species. Visit with friends or family and discover the many impressive waterfalls throughout Marinette County.
Black Earth Creek – Cross Plains
At one time Trout magazine named Black Earth Creek one of the nation’s top 100 trout streams. West of Madison along Highway 14, the 27-mile creek, like others near urban areas, has been threatened by urban growth. Conservation groups, including the Black Earth Creek Watershed Association, have joined forces to protect and restore the stream’s quality for trout fishing, and today it remains a popular spot for anglers.