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Fisheries Management

Fishing WisconsinInland trout management

Ash Creek Brook Trout

A colorful brook trout from Ash Creek. Photo: Matt Mitro

The DNR identifies and classifies trout streams according to standards for protection and management of this unique resource. The fisheries program uses the results from about 300 surveys of stream sites conducted annually across the state to continuously update the classification system based on standardized procedures. The DNR maintains a list of classified streams for public information but specifically states that the list “shall not be assumed to be exhaustive.”

Fisheries staff continually collect stream survey information, and if necessary, use it to classify individual streams. Trout streams are officially classified by January 1st of every odd year.

Inland trout fishing - what you need to know to be a successful Wisconsin trout angler.

Management Plan

The Wisconsin Inland Trout Management Plan, 2020-2029 [PDF] will be guiding trout management in Wisconsin for years to come.

Classified trout streams

Wisconsin's classified trout streams

Trout classification map

Distribution of classified trout streams.

The maps of Wisconsin's classified trout streams are arranged by county. This listing includes the state's 13,000 miles of classified trout streams.


  • which streams have naturally reproducing trout populations
  • which streams are stocked to jump start naturally reproducing populations and
  • which streams are maintained entirely by stocking.


Sampling Wisconsin's trout streams

The majority of trout stream sampling occurs between mid-June and mid-September each year to allow for capture of young-of-year trout. Trout and other species of fish are counted, measured, and sometimes weighed. The length of stream site varies based on the width of the stream. The data collected in these surveys are used to determine management practices and related objectives such as trout stream classification, stocking, regulations and habitat.

Read about trout populations around Wisconsin through various trout surveys and assessments.


Stocking trout in Wisconsin's streams

Catchable-size trout fishing- every year a number of rainbow, brook and brown trout are stocked at a catchable size for fishing fun.

Interested in other trout stocking data? See the Statewide Stocking Database.

Trout stamp program

Wisconsin's trout stamp program

The Wisconsin DNR has a long history of trout stream habitat management, beginning as early as the 1930s. In 1977, the Inland Waters Trout Stamp program was created to provide funding for improving and restoring trout habitat and to provide increased trout fishing opportunities. DNR biologists and technicians have used trout stamp dollars to improve and maintain over 25 miles of streams a year. The reports below summarize expenditures of the trout stamp program and other trout habitat expenditures for the years listed.

Trout related outreach, articles, surveys and news releases

We launched a statewide effort in 2011 to review inland trout fishing. Trout populations, trout streams, and trout anglers themselves have changed significantly since we last collected angler input on a statewide basis over 23 years ago.

Public meeting and online survey on Wisconsin’s inland trout program [PDF]

Results of the 2011 Survey of Lapsed Wisconsin Inland Trout Anglers [PDF]

Trout Fishing in Wisconsin: angler behavior, program assessment and regulation and season preference [PDF]

Proposed inland trout regulations aim to increase opportunities for anglers – August 2014

Press release on the first task force meeting – February 2013

Press release on the surveys – February 2012

Former trout anglers weigh in on why they left the sport - issued by DNR May 22, 2012

Brook and brown trout populations statewide have increased overall and in each size range examined.

Improved habitat has resulted in more naturally reproducing trout populations and changes in stocking practices [PDF] mean trout are wilder and more suited to stream.

An evaluation of trout stream regulations in Wisconsin streams [PDF]

Trout Angling on Timber Coulee Creek Then (1984) and Now (2008) [PDF]

Last revised: Thursday January 16 2020