West Central Wisconsin streams offer a variety, from distinct spring creek structure to larger rivers lined with limestone cliffs with huge pools and frustrating flats. This beautiful part of the state is home to celebrated streams such as the Rush River, Willow River and the Kinnickinnic River or simply the Kinnie. Variety is so great in this part of the state that you can be fishing a small brushy Brook Trout stream one hour and fishing a larger river with large trout the next hour. These rivers are home to some great insect populations, and great hatches. Many of these streams tend to be heavily fished, particularly those close to the Twin Cities. The Kinnickinnic and Willow Rivers have been improved and are well cared for by organizations such as the Kiap-TU-Wish chapter of Trout Unlimited and the Kinnickinnic River Land Trust.
There are many other streams in the area worth trying. If you take a look at the trout maps you can see a large number of other streams in this region. Exploring the other streams will be well worth your time and will help you avoid any crowds that may show up on the well known stream of the area.
Hatches worth noting in West Central Wisconsin region…
- Mayflies: Trico, Hex, Cahills, Hendricksons, Sulfurs, BWO's, and the March Browns. Comparaduns/sparkleduns, parachutes, thoraxes, emergers, and spinners are good dry flies to use. For nymphs: Pheasant Tails, Gold-ribbed Hare's Ears, and Prince Nymphs.
- Caddisflies: Are often numerous though fishermen often overlook them. Black Caddis in the spring, Sand Sedge (yellow body), Green Caddis (Green Rock Worm & Grannon), Little Sister Sedge My dry fly collection includes: Elk Hair Caddis with and without hackle, X-caddis, Iris Caddis, Emergent Sparkle Pupa, and CDC caddis. Larvae are seldom important except for free living caddis, green is a good color. Pupa can be very important and fish taking ascending pupa are often mistaken for fish taking adult caddis. Soft hackles, Sparkle Pupa, and various other pupa patterns are worth a try.
- Midges: I prefer simple patterns because they are easier to tie on the #20 through #26 hooks that are required for fishing midges. I tie them in white, cream, gray, olive, and black. Griffith Gnats are a time-tested pattern. Pupa are usually very important, fish them in the film or subsurface.
- Stoneflies: Hatch occasionally and can produce a fishable hatch. Look for Yellow Sally's, Giant Brown Stones and small black Stoneflies which are indicators of excellent water quality.
- Crustaceans: Scud are plentiful in most spring creeks and provide consistent fishing. Sowbugs can be numerous especially in streams with weed grown. Crayfish can be used to tempt larger fish.
- Terrestrials: Are often very important, especially in the middle of the summer. Hoppers create some of the most exciting fishing of the year. Also look for crickets, ants, and inchworms.
- Streamers: Can often get big fish excited. A twenty inch Brown may not be able to pass up a one to three inch minnow imitation drifted in front of its face.
- Attractor Dry Flies: Try a small Royal Coachman, Hare's Ear Parachute, Pass Lake or Adams during sparse hatches or during non-hatch times.
West Central Wis Rivers