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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.

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Along with the information we've provided in this article, another great resource is the book mentioned below. Click on the image for current Amazon pricing:

Where to Fish

Best Places to Trout Fish in the Minnesota Driftless


Select an Area:

Minnesota's's Best Trout Fishing Streams by Area

1. Preston Area Trout Streams

Best trout streams near Preston Minnesota:

South Branch Root River (Map)

Camp Creek (Map)

South Fork Root River (Map)

Trout Run Creek (Map)

Rush Creek (Map)

Preston Area

2. East of Rochester Trout Streams

Best trout streams Close to Rochester Minnesota:

North Branch Whitewater River (Map)

Middle Branch Whitewater River (Map)

Garvin Brook (Map)

East of Rochester

3. Southeastern Minnesota Trout Streams

Best Trout Streams in Southeastern Minnesota

Crooked Creek (Map)

West Beaver Creek (Map)

South Fork Pine Creek (Map)

Southeasten Minnesota Trout Strams
Recommended Gear

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.  

Minnesota Hatch Chart

Best Trout Flies for the Minnesota Driftless

Best Fly Patterns

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.

Trout of the Driftless
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