Small Stream Fishing in Wisconsin

by | Apr 26, 2021 | fly fishing the Driftless of Wisconsin | 2 comments

camping-the-DriftlessIt was brisk to say the least when I made the coffee on the banks of the Wisconsin River for Granny and I this morning.  But the sun was rising and our view was stunning.  Toss in the bird life and it was nice kicking back in our Yeti chairs despite the chill.  Best of all, there was fishing to be done.


troutbumsWe enjoyed the sounds of the life coming from the surrounding hardwood forests over our coffee.  Then we packed up camp.  We are low on food and there was nothing to scrounge together for breakfast so we hit a small town grocery and got some yogurts.  Yogurts mixed with our Kate’s Bars make for a very nutritious one.


Southwestern Wisconsin’s Driftless Region has numerous small trout streams.  I’ve fished here before with my college buddies.  Most recently after I finished speaking at the Great Waters Flyfishing Expo in 2017.  It’s a beautiful place and one I wanted Granny to see this trip.


trout-fishing-WisconsinYou don’t target a “name” stream like you do out west.  Here, for someone who doesn’t know the area like me, you drive around and pick out a stream.  Granny and I found one that I honestly had no clue about but it simply had the look.  Part of choosing this one was also because we spotted the landowner and he gave us permission to fish the farm property.


small-stream-fishingWI small stream fishing is so different than what we have out west.  The overhanging trees, tall bushes on the banks – you really need to look before every cast or you’ll be hung up.  No doubt that’s where both Granny and I ended up a few times in our first hour.  But once we got our groove on things were good.  Especially because we were fishing my bran new Winston 4-weight Air 2.


brown-troutThis was our warmest day yet.  There were a few mayflies fluttering and lucky for us there were a few trout rising.  Though most these fish are small they’re all wild brown trout.  They don’t see nearly the number of anglers our western trout do and for that reason these are spooky as can be.  It takes good stealth followed by a perfect presentation to really succeed.  It reminds me of fishing a European stream.


Yeti-BackpackThe key to fishing small stream wild browns is to work it slow and easy.  Sure, if there’s an explosive hatch then you go for it, but today was a trickling of bugs and only the occasional rise.  Every time we caught a fish we eased to the next pool then grabbed a seat on the bank.  Granny as usual was whipping up some snacks.  I was watching for random rises.  There were enough if you watched closely.




wild-brownsWe had an amazing day of fishing.  We fished about four hours and walked a mile of this tiny river.  If I were to guess I’d say we caught about fifteen browns between 7” and 13”.  The fish are extremely gorgeous.  They have the usual brown trout spots but they also have a lot of red on their adipose and tail fins.


Yeti-CurrierWe are back on the road again tonight continuing our way north to visit friends.  We have a sweet campsite again.  Tonight we’re on the Black River near Black River Falls.  The Cubs are losing but the hot dogs are delicious!


Jeff Currier Global Fly Fishing


  1. Kristen

    How fun! Enjoy!

  2. Jeff

    Thank you Kristen!

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I started fly fishing at age 7 in the lakes and ponds of New England cutting my teeth on various sunfish, bass, crappie and stocked trout. I went to Northland College in Ashland, Wisconsin, where I graduated with a Naturalist Degree while I discovered new fishing opportunities for pike, muskellunge, walleyes and various salmonids found in Lake Superior and its tributaries.

From there I headed west to work a few years in the Yellowstone region to simply work as much as most people fish and fish as much as most people work. I did just that, only it lasted over 20 years working at the Jack Dennis Fly Shop in Jackson, WY where I departed in 2009. Now it’s time to work for "The Man", working for myself that is.

I pursue my love to paint fish, lecture on every aspect of fly fishing you can imagine and host a few trips to some of the most exotic places you can think of. My ultimate goal is to catch as many species of fish on fly possible from freshwater to saltwater, throughout the world. I presently have taken over 440 species from over 60 countries!