When taking a look at the unique and scenic region of southwestern Wisconsin, known as the Driftless Area, one can’t help but mention its legendary wooded bluffs, wealth of native wildlife, and expansive networks of freshwater trout fishing streams.
You’ll discover what may seem like a never ending supply of backwater tributaries throughout areas near Boscobel, which calls Grant County home but borders both Richland and Crawford Counties, as well. Combined, the WI-DNR reports nearly 90 Class-1 and over 170 Class-2 and Class-3 trout streams in the area. But don’t simply take our word for it…ask a true Driftless Angler!
For expert advice on trout fishing in Wisconsin’s Driftless Region, Mat Wagner is your man. As the owner of The Driftless Angler, a full-service fly shop and guide service, Mat has over 25 years of experience fishing the shallow streams of this area. His established local shop provides visitors with fly fishing gear and apparel, as well as lessons on how to best fish Wisconsin’s Driftless trout creeks.
We recently had the chance to catch up with Mat and pick his brain on what makes trout fishing in this part of the state truly special.
Mat: Driftless Wisconsin is a trout fishing paradise. The unique geology and geography of the area give us some of the most fertile and abundant trout fisheries in the country.
Mat: I would say the sheer number of creeks available to fish. We are lucky to have a true abundance of spring creeks that hold trout all season long.
Mat: The creeks are mostly meandering meadow streams and are relatively easy to walk along and wade into.
Mat: Brown trout are the predominant species (by far the most common), but there are native brook trout (or brookies) available, as well. A few creeks stock rainbow trout, and there is always the opportunity to catch a rare, wild tiger trout…so keep your eyes peeled.
Mat: It’s hard to choose just one because I have many, but my favorite memories are always showing people from out of the area what fishing the Driftless is all about. Their notions of trout streams only being worthwhile if they flow from the mountains out west sure change quickly, when we’re able to put them on a great hatch out here!
Mat: I would tell them to do just a little extra research. Make sure you can identify public water (which we have LOTS of), be friendly with landowners (you never know when you might get permission to fish a super-secret creek), and be aware of the few hazards in our area (like wild parsnip). Other than that, just know that getting to the creeks is simple, but fishing them might not be all the time.
With over 44,000-acres of public land surrounding the Lower Wisconsin Riverway, you’ll find plenty of well-stocked tributaries, creeks, and streams to wade into. Discover what makes this land truly special, and enjoy its beauty on your next trout fishing expedition.
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*A special thank you to Mat Wagner & The Driftless Angler Fly Shop.