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:


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)


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)


3. Southeastern Minnesota Trout Streams

Best Trout Streams in Southeastern Minnesota

Crooked Creek (Map)

West Beaver Creek (Map)

South Fork Pine Creek (Map)


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

Fluttering Caddis
Fluttering Caddis

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Quil Body Adams
Quil Body Adams

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CDC Comparadun
CDC Comparadun

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Fluttering Caddis
Fluttering Caddis

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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: 1. A Minnesota fishing license. A resident license if you live in Minnesota, or a non-resident license if you live in another state. Resident licenses can be purchased for: 24 hours, 72 hours, annual, or 3 years. Non-resident can be purchased as a 24 hours, 72 hours, 7 days or annual license. 2. Minnesota inland trout stamp. You must have a Minnesota trout stamp unless you are over 65, under 18, or are execpt for some other reason. The only option for this is an annual stamp. They can both be purchased online by clicking here. You will need to create an account and fill out a little information about yourself.

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. April-May: Springtime might be your best shot at landing fish in large numbers in the Minnesota driftless. With hungry trout ready to make up for reduced feeding during the colder months and several mayflies beginning to hatch, Spring can a great time for fast paced dry fly action. June-August: Summertime fly fishing in Minnesota's driftless is usually pretty tough. With clear skies and bright sun, one must focus on staying hidden from the trout. The second challenge is the slowing down of aquatic insect hatches. When no mayflies or caddis are present, casting terrestrials can be very effective and an absolute blast when it works out. Auguest-September: Fall can be a great to time fish the Minnesota driftless, with most of the trout focused on eating subsurface. This is the time of year Brown and Brook trout spawn, so if you enjoy fishing egg patterns, this is the time to go. *Note, WATCH OUT FOR THE REDDS (trout spawing areas on the streambed). It's essential for the survival of the wild trout we love to be able to reproduce without being disturbed. October-December: Wintertime trout fishing can be slower than the rest of the year, but fishing presure is much lower, increasing the odds you'll find some solitude out on the stream. We've found these three patterns to be the most effective in the driftless during the winter months.

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. Minneapolis is an international airport, so you would have several options of flight times. You can get to most if not all of the Minnesota trout streams withing a 2-3 hour drive from the airport. Rochester is also an international airport, but is a little smaller than the one in Minneapolis, so you might not have as many options for flight times. The biggest benefit to flying into Rochester, is that any of the dirftless streams can be reached with a 2 hour drive, some could be reached in less than 1 hour!

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.