Trout Fishing Minnisota's Driftless
The driftless region of Minnesota has more than 700 miles of trout streams running through it's Southeastern corner. We've compiled our knowledge of the area to help serve as a reference for fishing these waters.
Recommended Gear for the Driftless
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Rod: Any 2wt-5wt will work well. Smaller rods make casting in skinny water much easier, but it can get windy in the driftless. Bringing a 5wt weight with you can save some frustration in windy conditions.
Our top pick would be the Echo Base Fly Rod Kit because of it's versatility and affordable price tag. For a full review of this rod kit, check out this article.
Fly box: You probably won't need to take more than one. Fill it with the patterns found here and you should have everything you need.
Our top pick would be the Aventik silicone super slim because of its thin design and high level of durability.
Leaders: Trout in the driftless are often sitting in shallow water. With a clear sky, this can made them overly skittish. Therefore, it's important to use long leaders (10-12ft) in many situations, with fine tippets ( 6x-7x). For tips on hiding from trout, check out this article.
Shoulder sling or hip pack: I prefer these over a vest because they allow for easier movement. Often times in the driftless, staying mobile and covering a lot of water is the best way to find fish.
Wading pants: I also prefer these over waders for the same reason, ease of movement. Walking the banks all day in heavy waders can get exhausting!
Our top pick would be these made from Columbia because they can easily be converted to shorts by simply unzipping them at the knees.
Wading boots: Tennis shoes will work, but properly fitting wading boots will provide greater ankle support for those days that a lot of hiking is required. The hybrid wading/hiking boots are my favorite.
We recommend these because of their comfort and durability.
Bug Spray: The mosquitoes and other bugs can get down right nasty during the spring and summer! I use the Simms BugStopper hoodie that works like a charm to keep those little blood suckers at bay.
Socks: Because I usually wet wade when fishing the driftless, I go through several pairs of them. Make sure to pack 2-3 pairs for each day you'll be fishing.
Minnesota's Driftless Hatch Chart
Minnesota's Driftless can offer some great hatches. While none compare to the famous Golden Stonefly, or Green Drake hatches in other parts of the country, the hatches in the spring and summer months are consistent and keep enough food on the water to provide for many dry fly fishing opportunities.
Best Trout Flies for the Minnesota Driftless
What species of trout are in the Driftless?
Brown Trout: Salmo trutta
Brown trout are not native to Minnesota (brown trout are not native to anywhere in the U.S.), meaning they arived there by stocking initiatives in the streams they now call home. However, there are wild Brown trout in some of Minnesota's driftless streams. Wild means they naturally reproduce to a point that their species is sustainable without needing additional stockings.
Brook Trout: Salvelinus fontinalis
The vast majority of Brook trout in Minnesota's driftless are either wild or stocked. Once native to the area, there have been confirmed native strains of Brook trout in other areas of the driftless region, but none confirmed in Minnesota yet.
Rainbow Trout: Oncorhynchus mykiss
The most common trout caught in the Minnesota driftless is the Rainbow trout. There're very few, if any, Rainbow Trout that reproduce in the Minnesota driftless streams. The conservation department stocks Rainbows in various streams each year to create more fishing opportunities for anglers.
Minnesota Driftless Trout Fishing FAQ's
When is the Minnesota Driftless Trout Season?
You can fish for trout somewhere in the Minnesota driftless any day of the year, but, different streams and areas have varying regulations. Click here and choose the "stream trout" dropdown to see all of them.
What fishing license do I need to trout fish in Minnesota?
To fish for trout in the Minnesota Driftless, you'll need:
Are barbless hooks required in the Minnesota Driftless Region?
At this time, there are no regulations stating that barbless hooks must be used in the Minnesota driftless region. It is always best to check the most current rules and regulations.
Where can I find the most recent regulations for trout fishing in the Minnesota Driftless?
Click here to see the most current rules and regulations.
When is the best time to fish for trout in the Minnesota Driftless?
Trout can be caught throughout the open season, but there are definitely seasons that are better than others.
Which airport to fly into?
If you are visiting and choose to fly to the driftless, your best options would be to fly into either Minneapolis or Rochester.
Do I need four wheel drive to get around the Minnesota Driftless?
All of the streams in the Minnesota driftless can be reached without 4 wheel drive. However, in the winter months, 4 wheel drive would be essential to navigate the steep roadway hills if there is much snow or ive on the ground.
Can you night fish for trout in the Minnesota Driftless?
No, fishing hours are from sunrise to 11:00 p.m.