Wisconsin's Spring Creeks are Waiting for You.
Wisconsin has some of the best spring creeks and hatches that you can find in the United States. Although often smaller in size and stature than some of the western waters you read about, our spring creeks provide just as much scenery and excitement.
Wade fishing is the most productive method to fish our blue ribbon streams. Wisconsin's trespass law allow for anyone to fish a navigable river, provided they entered the stream with permission or at any bridge. You must keep your feet wet. Access is abundant.
Here's a sampling:
The Kinnickinnic River is Wisconsin's premiere Blue Ribbon Trout Stream. Its water runs cold and most of the time clear even during hot summer months making it a tremendous for brown trout. The trout in this fabulous river average over 6,000 per mile. And its' right out our back door!
The Kinni watershed is characterized by scenic bluff lands, rare oak savanna, original prairie, farm land, white pine forest, wooded coulees, sedge meadows, rare and endangered plant species, beautiful stands of white pines and plenty of open space and scenic vistas. Its feeder creeks are cold and clean, containing wild native brook trout, important spawning areas, wetlands, and many springs arising from under picturesque limestone outcroppings.
In addition to its spectacular beauty, 200-foot deep canyon, and extraordinary water quality, the Kinni is a world-class wild brown trout fishery. It is probably the most productive trout stream in the entire Upper Mississippi River Basin. Listed as a Class I trout stream by the WI DNR, the river is one of the few naturally sustaining trout fisheries in the Midwest, producing both brook and brown trout. The entire river is a high-quality fishery, stocking was eliminated in 1974. Travel Wisconsin has named the Kinni as one of the top 5 trout streams in the State of Wisconsin.
The lower portion of the Kinni is more like a freestone stream – rubble-strewn with dark pools at the bends, long, challenging flats, and a succession of riffles. The lower river flows over a bed of fragmented limestone and gravel through steep, wooded canyon. The wide valley makes this stretch popular among local fly fisherman. Trout are fewer, but larger.
The Rush River
Rush River is a great trout fly fishing destination in Wisconsin. There
are pools, riffles, and flat runs that hold plenty of insect life. The
hatches are prolific and fly anglers can access the river at many spots
along the way. It does not hold as many trout as the nearby Kinnickinnic
River, but they are larger in size. This is because of the freestone
nature of the stream, with slightly warmer water, which produces larger
food sources for the trout. DNR surveys have found trout well over 20
inches, indicating that there is good survival of stocked fish and, some
argue, a sign of natural reproduction.
The Rush averages about 2,500 trout per mile. Brown trout inhabit the river from the CenterVille Springs to 3 miles south of Hwy 10. Brook trout reproduce naturally in Lost Creek and Cave Creek, a main source of increasing brook trout populations that can be found on the Rush. With water quality increasing and temperatures decreasing, stocking of browns and brook trout has been greatly reduced. The Rush receives most of its water from surface run-off but the cooler temperatures have indicated some natural reproduction.
The Trimbelle River
The Trimbelle is a quaint little stream with prolific insect life and a decent trout population.
Wisconsin has designated the Trimbelle as one of the state’s highest quality waters as Exceptional Resource Waters (ERWs). From a mile and a half above the mouth of the Mississippi River to its headwaters, the Trimbelle River is considered an ERW and Class II Trout Water.
Eau Galle River
The river is a relatively large trout stream for Western Wisconsin holding primarily brown trout from Spring Valley to Elmwood, and brook trout downstream from Cady Creek. This trout water is Class II trout water that means fish must be stocked to provide a viable fishery. Below Spring Valley, the stream picks up many smaller brook trout waters including Cady, Mines, and Burkhardt.
St. Croix River
A warm water fishery known for it's outstanding smallmouth fishery, also boasts large walleye, musky and other species. Listed as one of the nation's scenic and beautiful rivers. Fishing is primarily done out of a drift boat or motor boat, although wading access is available toward Osceola and further north.
The Apple River
The Apple River is a warmwater fly fishing destination offering up smallmouth bass as the prime target. You can also get into the occasional Musky and Nortehrn Pike. There are some trout stocked in the Apple but they are put and take as the water temps cannot support trout.
The Willow River
Anglers may want to consider giving the upper Willow River a try near County Highway T east of New Richmond a try. This area is known for trophy 20-plus inch trophy brown trout. DNR field surveys conducted from 2005 to 2008 found consistent production of 16- to 20-inch brown trout and an occasional fish larger than 20 inches. The South Fork, a tributary stream to the upper Willow River, is often over looked but has a mixed brook and brown trout fishery of good quality and size structure.
The Park Section starts near Burkhardt, the river picks up speed and flows to the canyon of Little Falls. This area is quite beautiful and the falls is quite a sight to see. More than 5 miles of the best fly fishing water are within the park. Stocked rainbows and brown trout can surprise even the most advanced anglers.
The Seasons of Western Wisconsin Spring Creeks
As our seasonal weather patterns change, so doe the flora and fauna of our region, creating several distinct seasons. Combined with the different seasons and hatches, there are many faces of the Kinnickinnic and other spring creeks in our area that any dedicated angler should get to know.
March and April
This is our early season on most western Wisconsin rivers. By March, which is our snowiest month, the weather starts to be more unpredictable, storms are more frequent, keeping many of the anglers that come at home so that the die-hards on the river frequently have the water to themselves.
The early spring months show us some of the best Baetis hatches of the year. Any overcast, drizzly day will bring off thousands of these tiny mayflies, and if you’re lucky you may even get some shots at casting dries to rising trout! Flows on the river are also at their lowest during the winter months, making wade-fishing a good option on the many riffles and gravel bars that are submerged through much of the year. Fishing is mostly done by nymphing with some early winter stoneflies, BWOs and an April Caddis Hatch providing dry fly action.
May, June, July
The Springtime on Wisconsin spring creeks is generally the most productive time of year to fish dry flies. In May is when the caddis are in full swing and the Sulphurs really get going. You can also get a wide variation of yellow craneflies, yellow sallies, brown stoneflies, AMrch Browns and Hendricksons in the mix. Sometimes there's just plain too many bugs on the surface, and the fish will focus on subsurface patterns. This is our most challenging and rewarding time of the year.
August & September
In late summer, this is the time to focus on the various terrestial patterns for some wonderful mid-day fishing. And of course the world renown Trico hatch is prevelant in our area. Bring your light tippets and patience. Trout oftern start feeding at sunrise this time of the year. There is a wonderful Plaudis and Baetis hatch towards the end of the season.
is the time that our brown trout get more aggressive. The nights begin to cool and the colors start to change. It is a special time to fish our
waters and watch the native wildlife. There are still caddis hatching in the evenings, and on slightly overcast days in September we can see some good BWO hatches, too.