Fly Fishing

Driftless Fishing

Located on the borderlands of Wisconsin, Iowa, and Minnesota, La Crosse is considered to be right in the heart of the Driftless Region; and rightfully so.  We are blessed to have 7 rivers: The La Crosse, Black, Mississippi, Trempleau, Bad Axe, Yellow, and and the Root; as well as close to 3,000 miles of public access to our crystal clear trout streams including: Dutch, Mormon Coulee, Pine, Coon, Spring Coulee, and our very own Tainter and Timber Coulee- all chalked full of beautiful trout and managed for your fishing enjoyment.

Fly fishing opportunities in the driftless area of Wisconsin

If you’re not already aware, S.W. Wisconsin also known as the driftless region has GREAT fly fishing. Well over a 1,000 miles of gentle flowing streams, all spring fed and limestone based, many with DNR and Trout Unlimited stream bank improvements. Generally we fish for Brown Trout, but there are Rainbows and Brook Trout if you know where to look. A typical day on the water for me consists of fish in the 6” – 20” range – quite a range!  You’ll hook generally in the 10” – 14” range, couple of time a weekend you’ll get a 16” – 18” and once in a great while a 20”.

Wading is easy as with most streams you need only get your feet wet (although I do encourage chest waders or hip waders at the least. Casting can be tricky due to the tight nature of the frequent high banks, trees and other obstacles. Distance casting is not an issue, accuracy is as these are smaller and tighter targets than you may be used too. Wet and dry fly fishing have their place here in the driftless, with plenty of opportunity for both. Hatches are numerous throughout the season, mayflies and caddis dominate with great action on terrestrials by mid summer. Light rods and tackle with 6X (or smaller) tippets, small flies generally #16 – #22 (wet or dry). Two schools of thought on rod length; short rods (under 7.5 ft) for working in tight cover and “regular” rods (8.0 – 9.5 ft) for those that flip nymphs or use roll casts as a major part of there arsenal, so it’s hard to comment as I belong to both schools – that is to say, whatever works! These of coarse are generalities for Trout, Musky and Northern are a whole different story.

Biggest single mistake folks make is in the way that they dress and not their fishing skills! This is stealth fishing, unless you can cast 50ft and place your fly in a 4 inch circle, you’re best to be as invisible to the fish as possible. On these clear water streams you can really spot the fish – and they can spot you too! We quietly stalk into a spot, matching the background with dark brown, green, and tan colors – especially our heads! Sitting quietly for a few minutes, casting to feeding fish that are 20ft away is a lot easier. So, please leave the bright colored shirts and hats at home.

Trout Fishing

Coulee Region Trout Unlimited

The Coulee Region Chapter of Trout Unlimited has been preserving, protecting  and enhancing our cold water resources since 1974.

The inland Trout Fishing season is CURRENTLY OPEN here in Wisconsin.   CHECK YOUR REGULATIONS before entering a stream in Wisconsin.Trout fishing in Iowa is open all year long. Make sure you CHECK YOUR REGULATIONS before you enter a stream in Iowa. The catch and release season for Minnesota runs from January 1 to April 13.  Regular season runs from April 14 to September 30. Make sure you CHECK YOUR REGULATIONS before you enter a stream in Minnesota.

Outdoor Recreation Alliance
1243 Badger Street
La Crosse, WI 54667