Dedicated To The Smallest Of Skiffs banner

The Driftless Trout Story

1726 Views 8 Replies 6 Participants Last post by  Megalops
Well, I have been traveling through the area a lot so I've made my 3rd trip (2nd in 2 weeks) to the Driftless region of Wisconsin, once again it didn't disappoint. My first trip was over 2 years ago, and they had significant flooding since then, but the Trout are still there, still in big numbers and still aggressive as hell. It can be a bit of a technical fishery with regard to stealth, but once you get in the groove, it'll amaze you. Just be ready to do some precision roll casting, low side arm under brush and branches, and be willing to lose some flies. As far as losing flies goes, I didn't really lose that many, but I did have to retrieve a lot after I broke them off. I am more likely to break one off and try and remember where it was, than lumber my way through an awesome lie or run before I fish it thoroughly.

I am always leery about posting fishing reports, for fear of burning someone's territory. So in this report I will not get specific about individual creeks. Not that I would need to, the whole area is beautiful, and almost every creek has a large number of native fish.

The Driftless is a region in SW Wisconsin/SE Minnesota where there was no Glacial drift during the Ice Age. It is much more hilly, and has a lot more rugged terrain than the rest of the rolling hills and fields you think of when you think of the region. There are so many creeks and streams in this area if you want to fish alone, it is definitely not a problem, many places you will not see a soul all day. Unless it's been raining the water is gin clear and you can see the fish and they can see you.

I was fishing a 8' 4wt with dries, nymphs, and small streamers, and a 9' 5wt for slightly larger streamers (swinging, and stripping), and a tiny bit of euro style nymphing. I haven't run anything but 4X tippet any time I have fished here. I have only been broken off once, and I am pretty sure that was a large Brown with a bad attitude.

A lot of people love to fish dries and small nymphs here. Scuds, pink squirrels, princes, and your basic dries will get it done when there's a hatch going on. I fished streamers 90% of the time because..... well, I like streamers and aggressive fish. Small black leach patterns, small olive leach patterns, rabbit strip flies i.e. mini slump busters etc etc.

The fish here for the most part are not large, there are a few but you have to put in the time in the out of the way and hard to reach places. What they lack in size they more than make up for in numbers and aggression. 25+ fish days were the norm the last 2 weekends.

This is the town to stay in since it is the most centrally located in the region. Multiple bars and restaurants and several motel options. I was recommended the Hickory Hill motel S. of town the first time I went up and haven't stayed anywhere since. It's a bit dated but SUPER clean (cleaner than the Embassy in Minneapolis) and run/owned by a really nice Western European couple. I think the rate was 65/night.
There is a fly shop right in town open 7 days, called the Driftless Angler. Very knowledgeable staff, with a wide selection of flies. I bought a nice handful of their leach patterns and a couple scuds since I was under prepared on that front. They also have information about what's hatching, and maps of the area, which is super helpful since it's a large area with many many miles of trout streams. I believe they also guide out of that shop but I didn't ask.

Long story short, if you're anywhere near the area and looking for a DIY native Trout fix (yes I know no Brown's are truly native..) then this is the place.

See pics below.

Water resources Water Natural landscape Bank Watercourse
Natural landscape Water Water resources Bank Natural environment
Body of water Water resources Bank Watercourse Water
Body of water Water resources Water Bank River
Body of water Water resources Water Stream Watercourse
Natural landscape Sky Soil Water Geological phenomenon
See less See more
  • Like
Reactions: 5
1 - 9 of 9 Posts
I have a few more pics on my camera, I'll try to get posted soon.
  • Like
Reactions: 1
I love the Driftless area. Get there for a week or so spring and fall. The summer flood really did some damage to the area.
It looks like you did well. Nice fish
  • Like
Reactions: 1
You are not too far from some really good salmon/steelhead spots. Also, a bit NE are some amazing brook trout.

That area is a gem.
  • Like
Reactions: 2
Thanks for the post- cool to hear something new
  • Like
Reactions: 1
Excellent report, thank you!
  • Like
Reactions: 1
Awesome report! It’s posts like this which make this site such a great resource. Thanks for posting.
  • Like
Reactions: 1
1 - 9 of 9 Posts
This is an older thread, you may not receive a response, and could be reviving an old thread. Please consider creating a new thread.