Contact(s): Joanna Griffin, trout team coordinator, 608-264-8953
MADISON - Even in areas hit with historic flooding this August, Wisconsin trout populations are holding strong and anglers can expect good opportunities for fishing. As water levels return to more normal levels, anglers can enjoy the benefits of the harvest season running through Oct. 15.
Fish biologists conducting fall surveys to assess trout populations in streams statewide are finding strong adult fish populations.
"The past 10 days of dry weather have allowed stream water levels to lower and become clearer, leading to some good fishing through the remainder of the season," says Kirk Olson, fisheries biologist for Crawford, La Crosse, Monroe and Vernon counties.
"Anglers will probably notice that trout in the area are very robust as fish have gorged on prey that washed into the stream during the flood. Recent fishing outings on area streams have brought many hungry trout to hand on both spinners and sub-surface flies."
The inland trout season runs through 11:59 p.m. on Oct. 15, giving anglers for the third year an extra two weeks on most waters except as noted in the "Specific Waters by County" section of the Guide to Wisconsin Trout Fishing Regulations, 2018-2019 [PDF]. The open season closes Sept. 30 for streams flowing into Lake Superior from their mouths to the first impassable permanent barrier, unless noted in the Specific Waters section.
Justin Haglund, fisheries biologist for Iowa and Richland counties, says fishing is still going strong in Iowa County and that Richland County streams, while hit hard by flooding, are now at near normal levels. "If there is continued dry weather over the next few weeks this will provide good opportunities for fishing throughout the southwest region," he says.
Survey results on the Tomorrow and Plover rivers in central Wisconsin earlier this month, as well as on small streams like Comet Creek, suggest good fishing opportunities on a variety of waters, says Tim Parks, fisheries biologist for Marathon and Portage counties.
Not only are anglers more likely to see larger fish at this time of year, as the fish move upstream toward spawning grounds, but the change to darker colors, particularly for male fish, allows anglers to see some beautiful fish in a variety of places.
"I know a lot of anglers have their sweet spots, but my message is to be adventurous," he says. "Take a roll of the dice. Hit one of the small streams and you'll be surprised. There's places where we were surveying this last month where we found fish either larger or more abundant than we expected.
Joanna Griffin, trout team coordinator for the Department of Natural Resources DNR's trout team, says trout anglers planning their fall fishing trips will want to check out DNR's online trout tool beforehand and even consult this mobile tool while fishing.
T.R.O.U.T. stands for Trout Regulations and Opportunities User Tool, and it shows anglers where to access streams and where to park, displays habitat projects around the state, and provides on-the-go mobile access to trout stream regulations.
Anglers wanting a printed map can use the tool to find the water they want and then print off a copy, or anglers can also print off county maps showing Wisconsin's classified trout streams. These PDFs will not have regulations public lands and fishing easements noted on them.
Current trout fishing forecasts from fisheries biologists are available for waters in the following counties: Chippewa, Crawford, Dane, Dunn, Eau Claire, Green, Iowa, La Crosse, Marathon, Marquette, Monroe, Pepin, Portage, Richland, Rock, Vernon and Waushara. Other more general forecasts and survey results are found in the trout section of the 2018 Wisconsin Fishing Report, starting bottom of page 15 [PDF].