Early C&R trout season opens March 6

Dane County: Bigger water is prone to be more ice-free and open
for getting flies and lures into the holes where the larger trout
are hanging out. Big trout like deep holes. Dane County has several
good candidates, Black Earth, Mount Vernon, and now the West Branch
of the Sugar River, which was recently improved by Targeted Run-off
Management grants that helped install walkable banks, lots of
lunker structures and rock, pools, and restored riffles. Anglers
can look for signs, which define ownership or easement, or default
to keeping their feet wet. Elver and Garfoot streams aren’t as well
known as the larger streams, but they also are good bets for the
early season. Anglers must be “gentle” with the fish; exposure to
cold air temps can be stressful.

Dunn, Pierce and St. Croix counties: Early season trout anglers
should find excellent in-stream fishing conditions in Pierce County
and on the Kinnickinnic River in St. Croix County. These streams
are generally ice-free and have good to outstanding trout
populations. Overall, trout populations may be a little lower than
last year, but the average size is greater. With well over a foot
of snow on the ground, travel may be difficult along streams during
early March and heavy run-off is expected to cause some flooding as
the snow pack begins to melt.

Iowa County: Despite the drought, most streams maintained more
than enough quality cold water to carry their trout through with
very little damage to the fisheries. Except for the marginal
streams, the trout should redistribute themselves throughout the
streams by this spring. All of the better streams now have
excellent numbers of wild trout with a very good to excellent size
distribution. The early season should provide fishing as good as
anglers can possibly expect to find. The use of a fairly
significant number of specially tailored regulations allow anglers
to find large numbers of fish, and, in a number of fisheries,
significant numbers of large fish. One item of note: Early season
release anglers should find some brook trout in the middle and
lower reaches of some larger streams with small brook trout feeder
streams. During most of the fishing season, these brookies are in
the upper reaches of these small streams, hidden away from anglers
by overhanging grasses or bush.

Rusk and Sawyer counties: Deep snows, low water, surface ice,
and a good, old-time Wisconsin winter would appear to make the
inland early season a poor bet at this time, barring an immediate
and unanticipated thaw. The Namekagon River above Hayward will
likely be inaccessible and unfishable. However, the river below
Hayward is open and fishable, and actually, under a special
regulation, is already open to release trout fishing.

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