Frequently asked questions
When is the Wisconsin Driftless Trout Season?
Early inland trout waters: 5 am on the first Saturday in January to the Friday preceding the First Saturday in May at midnight
General Inland Season: First Saturday in May from 5:00 AM to October 15.
What fishing license do I need to trout fish in Wisconsin?
To fish for trout in the Wisconsin Driftless, you'll need:
1. A Wisconsin fishing license. A resident license if you live in Wisconsin, or a non-resident license if you live in another state. Non-resident can be purchased as a 1 day, 4 day, 15 day, or annual license.
2. Wisconsin inland trout stamp. The only option for this is an annual stamp.
They can both be purchased online by clicking
here. You will need to create an account and fill out a little information about yourself. They can also be purchased in person.
Click here to find a list of Wisconsin hunting and fishing license sales centers.
Are barbless hooks required in the Wisconsin Driftless?
At this time, there are no regulations stating that barbless hooks must be used. It is always best to check the most current rules and regulations.
Where can I find the most recent regulations for trout fishing in the Wisconsin Driftless?
This resource published by the Wisconsin DNR provides the most up to date information on rules and regulations.
What do the different trout stream classifications mean?
Class 1: 100% Wild Trout
There are over 5,000 miles of class 1 streams, each having a sustained population of wild trout that are replenished through successful natural reproduction. Because it's not needed to maintain full capacity, they are not stocked with hatchery trout.
Class 2: Some Wild Trout
There are over 6000 miles of class 2 streams. These waters have some natural reproduction and year to year survival carryover, but not enough to sustain a stream to it's full capacity. Stocking of Brown, Rainbow, and Brook trout is utilized to supplement mother nature.
Class 3: No Wild Trout
There are over 1,500 miles of class 3 streams. These streams have limited trout habitat, no natural reproduction, and little to no annual survival carryover. Without annual stocking, they would be virtually troutless.
here to see historical trout stocking summaries
When is the best time to fish for trout in the Wisconsin Driftless?
Trout can be caught throughout the open season, but there are definitely seasons that are better than others.
March-May: Springtime is probably the best to time fish. With hungry trout ready to make up for reduced feeding in the winter, and several
mayflies beginning to hatch, Spring can bring a perfect storm for dry fly action.
June-August: Summertime fly fishing in Wisconsin's driftless can be tough. With clear skies and bright sun, the first challenge is
staying hidden from the trout. The second challenge is the slowing down of aquatic insect activity. When no mayflies or caddis are present, casting
terrestrials can be very effective and pure ecstacy when it works.
September-October: Fall can be a great to time fish the driftless, but most of the trout will be focused on eating subsurface. This is the time of year that brown and brook trout spawn, so if you enjoy fishing egg patterns, this is the time to go. *Note,
WATCH OUT FOR THE REDDS (trout spawing areas on the streambed). It is essential for the survival of the fish we love to be able to reproduce without being disturbed.
October-December: Wintertime trout fishing can be slower than the rest of the year, but fishing presure is much lower, increasing the odds that you could have the stream all to yourself. We've found
these three patterns to be the most effective in the driftless during the colder winter months.
Which airport to fly into?
While driving to the drifltess can provide beautiful scenery, sometimes because of time and distance you may be better off flying. If so, there are several municipal airports in the area, but your best bet is the La Crosse Regional Airport because you can get there from almost anywhere with a few connecting flights, and they offer car rental service right there at the terminal.
Do I need four wheel drive to get around the Wisconsin Driftless?
To access the streams, no, you will not need 4 wheel drive. However, if you are visiting in the winter months, 4 wheel drive would be essential to navigate the rolling hills if there happened to be snow on the ground.