Northern Wisconsin is a huge region that has many large forested areas containing many streams of varying character. Rivers such as the Wolf River, Peshtigo River, and the Bois Brule River are some of the wildest and scenic in the Midwest. Brook Trout streams are common in the north woods. Some are small and wooded, but others are large enough to be fly fished easily. Brook Trout fishermen don’t give away their secrets and neither will we. The scenery alone is a great reason to give a Northern Wisconsin stream a try. Anglers looking for solitude don’t need to look any farther than one of the many Northern Wisconsin streams, most of them see few fishermen; only a few are ever crowded.
The streams and rivers in Northern Wisconsin vary in their character and size. There are freestone streams that violently tumble over bedrock and spring creeks that slowly wind their way through prairies or bogs. Don’t overlook the spring ponds, strap on a float tube, canoe or pontoon boat and find a cold, clear pond to immerse yourself in.
The freestone rivers are home to the best pocket water fishing in Wisconsin. Casting a nymph or a dry fly attractor around the boulders is often a way to catch large numbers of fish. The meadow streams are favored by fishermen who enjoy fishing light leaders and small flies.
By looking at the maps in the trout regulations, you can see that there is a trout stream every where you look in fact there is more trout stream in this area then any other part of the state. 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. You will hit a few duds but don’t give up there are true gems waiting for you to discover. The hatches of Northern Wisconsin can be spectacular, particularly some of the Mayfly hatches.
MayFlies: There are many spectacular hatches in the north, most notable are: White Mayfly, White-Gloved Howdy, March Browns, Green Drake (Hexagenia atrocaudata), Cream Fly, Gray Drake, and Light Cahill.
Sulphurs: Hatching from mid-May thru early June. It ranges from #14 to #16 with the #16 usually being the better choice. A sparkle dun is a good choice for a dry fly, also carry some spinners and parachutes.
Hendrickson: The Ephemerella subvaria is a typical hatch on many rivers. Tie parachutes in size #12, have a few spinners on hand
Brown Drake: The Ephemera simulans isn’t found many places in Wisconsin but on the Wolf it is one of the best hatches. Tie Adams Hairwings and Close Carpet Flies in sizes #8 and 10. This is an early June hatch, usually short in duration but worth the trip.
Gray Drake: The Siplonurus quebecenis is another large fly but it has a longer hatching period, hatching form late May through June. Try Carpet Flies, Adams Hairwings, and parachutes.
White Fly: The Ephoron leukon can be a great hatch when the water temperatures are right. Use a Blonde Wulff, Parachutes, and one of my favorites for tough fish is a Close Carpet Fly tied in white.
Green Drake: This is a Hex but not the Hexagenia limbata that everyone associates with the Hex hatch. It is a Hexagenia atrocaudata that is a #8 fly that can be imitated with an Adams Hairwing tied with yellow thread.
Caddis: The usual flies are sparkle pupa and Elk Hair Caddis. Black Dancers and White Millers can hatch in good numbers.
Stoneflies: Although the adults rarely hatch in fishable numbers, I know people who use stonefly nymph to fish around boulders and through riffles.
Terrestrials: Rarely important on larger rivers but may excite a few bank feeders, however on smaller streams they can be important.
Streamers: Can be great for bigger fish and can be used instead of fishing nymphs during non-hatch periods. Woolly Buggers, Muddlers, and Clousers are great choices.
Attractor Dries: Good for fishing pocket water especially for Brook Trout. Try Humpies, Bivisibles, Elk Hair Caddis, Wulff patterns, Trude Patterns and Pass Lake.
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Regional Wis Links
West Central Wisconsin
Where the Callibaetis live and trout feed on them.read more
The Big Wolf, ya that one.read more
Hex in the big swamp.read more
Trout and White Water.read more
River of Presidents.read more
Where “Up North” begins…read more