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Thread: spring creek trout fishing in the Driftless Area of southwest Wisconsin

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jan 2006

    Default spring creek trout fishing in the Driftless Area of southwest Wisconsin

    The southwest corner of Wisconsin is the largest part of what is known as the Driftless Area. Smaller parts of the Driftless Area are located in Illinois, Iowa, and Minnesota. The Wisconsin portion is roughly bounded by the Mississippi River on the west and the Illinois line on the south. The largest city on the eastern side is Madison. Interstate 90 is a bit north of the Driftless, but it is a convenient means of easily marking the northern extent. Within the Driftless are many spring creeks holding trout, and many of them are accessible to the public by easements owned by the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR). A non-resident family can purchase a 15-day license and inland trout stamp for $50.00 at current prices.

    My wife and I and another couple spent a week fishing in the Driftless the last week of May of 2019. Our friend and his wife are better trout fishers than we are. They both did very well most days, we did less well, but still enjoyed the fishing. Most trout that we caught were browns in the 10-14 inch range. One of our friends who shall remain anonymous caught a trout that was too large to measure in a Measure Net.

    Almost all of the spring creeks will get muddy after a rain and stay muddy for a day or two at least. We stayed within walking distance of one of the better streams, and it was too muddy to fish because of rain the entire time that we were there except for one day. We were able to find fishable water every day but one while we were there, but we had to drive around to find it. The guide books that I bought were of some help, but some of the information was outdated.

    Spring creek fishing in general in the Driftless is very demanding because of the slow water flow and the usual small stream size. The stream banks in some places are 10 feet or more above the water, which makes landing fish very difficult.

    The weeds on the stream banks get to be very high in summer. They were waist-high in most places that we fished. If you are thinking about fishing the Driftless, I will reply to your posts on this board.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jun 2008


    I’ve had the pleasure to fish that area a half dozen times and it’s a true gem. Not sure which creeks you fished but they’re all unique and wonderful. I’ve caught some dang nice fish and usually was able to catch fish at will. It’s been years since I’ve been there but would love to return someday.

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