FLY FISHING IN WISCONSIN RIVER
By Craig Amacker
Tired of the summer heat and overgrown vegetation on the trout streams? The Wisconsin River is the cure for the midsummer fishing blues. The river offers lots of back cast room, a variety of hard fighting fish, the chance to throw big streamers on your 7-weight, and scenery that resembles the Yellowstone River in Montana.
The primary fish species are smallmouth bass and white bass with walleye, sauger, largemouth bass, northern pike, musky, catfish, gar, and carp as bonus species. It’s not uncommon to land 6 different species of fish from the same spot on the same fly.
Just like a big western river you’re fishing big water that all looks the same so you have to take a minute to look for current breaks, drop offs, and pockets that hold fish. The easiest places to start are the downstream ends of sand and gravel bars where the depth abruptly goes from 6 inches to 3 feet or more. This structure gives fish shelter and a place to trap baitfish against to feed on them.
An angler can access primitive canoe launches and boat landings at Prairie du Sac, Sauk City (Headquarters of Culver’s), Mazomanie, Arena, and Spring Green. During low water, one can wade fish near any of the boat and canoe launches, and fish the wing dams and drop offs from the sand/ gravel bars, but the best water is accessed with a Jon boat, drift boat, canoe, or kayak.
Proper fly rods are fast action 7 and 8 weights and a weight forward line with a fat front taper. Best flies include bass poppers in white and yellow, pearl crystal buggers, chartreuse and white and chartreuse and yellow Clouser deep minnows, and Murdich Minnows.
Every time I look upriver to take in the scenery, islands, and eagles I think I’m in Montana fishing the Yellowstone, but when my lines goes tight and I set the hook on bronzed back smallmouth I realize I’m at home on the Wisconsin.