After a long winter, I know many of us fisherman have been itching to bust out the long rods. However, most areas of the state are still covered with 24+ inches of ice. Fortunately, for Wisconsin fisherman, a large portion of the state’s trout steams are open during the early catch and release season.
The early season runs from January 6, 2018 to May 4, 2018 and only artificial lures are allowed.
Don’t have a fly rod? Not a problem! Using an ultralight spinning “panfish” set up will be just fine. A 5.5 FT to 7 FT ultralight to light rod and reel will suffice. My rod and reel of choice is the Elk River Rods 6’8″ Panfish Gold with a Shimano Sahara 1000.
In Eau Claire, Dunn, and Chippewa counties, most of the streams have remained ice free and the fish have been starting to turn on. Plastic paddletails and twister tails, such as the Eurotackle B-Vibe and Curlypede, along with small crankbaits and inline spinners, have been relatively effective throughout most streams. Water conditions have been good as of late, as the cooler temps are preventing a lot of runoff. Fish locations have been relatively sporadic throughout the streams, but be sure to fish a little slower. If a spot doesn’t produce within a few casts, move on to the next one.
Be prepared to release fish quickly. In other words, have your hook remover and camera handy, so you can snap a quick picture and return the fish to the water.
Most streams throughout the state are open for the early catch and release season, but be sure to check the WI DNR website for your area. For more information on the early catch and release season and trout fishing in Wisconsin, see the links below.
2018-19 Inland Trout Regulations:
The WI DNR provides county maps with all trout steams listed:
WI DNR Catchable Trout Stocking: