Trout Season Opens Early In Wisconsin

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These are the good old days of fishing: anglers venturing out for the early catch-and-release trout season that opens March 5 should generally find more fish and more miles to fish than in the past 60 years.


"Trout abundance is at or near all-time highs on most waters in western Wisconsin," says Heath Benike, fish manager for Barron and Polk counties. "Several good year classes are recruiting into area trout fisheries and fishing should be good to excellent on many local waters."

Fish managers across the state are echoing his assessment, and now, a new UW-Stevens Point analysis backs that up: Trout populations have generally increased statewide, and the number of fish in all sizes examined have increased, since 1950.

And the state has more miles of trout streams to enjoy: 10,631 miles of trout streams, up from 9,562 in 1980, although not all of them are open for the early season.

"The biggest factor this early season will be anglers' ability to get to the streams with the large amount of snow present in western Wisconsin, but anglers should not get discouraged," Benike said.


Until the snow melts, anglers should focus their efforts during the warmest part of the day, usually around noon to 4 p.m. when water temperatures are higher and trout are most active. "After the snow has melted, trout activity will increase considerably and in mid-late April some of the biggest trout of the season are caught as the fish become more active and aggressive," he says.

Season details

The early catch-and-release trout season opens at 5 a.m. on March 5 and runs until midnight May 1. Most trout streams are open to early fishing with the exception of most Lake Superior tributaries and most streams in northeast Wisconsin.

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