Fishing South Fork Root River
Fly fishing South Fork Root River
Copyright 2019 James Marsh
South Branch of the Root River,
The South Branch of the Root River is one of
Minnesota's better trout streams. This is a limestone,
spring creek that for the most part, flows through
pastures. Some of its better fishing is below the dam,
a top discharge dam, in the little town of Lanesboro.

Although we list it as a limestone spring creek, much
of its water comes from rain and melting snow, so it's
also termed a freestone stream by some anglers. It
does have lots of springs along its way and is
definitely influenced by limestone water that has a
high pH.

At one time the brook trout in this area of Minnesota
were all native trout but they were all caught out many
years ago. The brook trout in the upper part of the
stream are now stream-bred, wild trout. The brown
trout are a mixture of wild and factory raised trout but
the rainbows are mostly all stocked.

Most of the better parts of the stream is above
Preston. There the river is smaller and meanders
close to roads at a few points and pastures in other
areas. The best part of this section is in the Forestville
State Park. There's three miles of public water that
can be accessed in the park.

Most of the other public access is at bridge crossings.
The sections of private property can usually be fished
if one will just take the time to ask the land owner.
Type of Stream
Limestone Spring Creek

Brown Trout (Wild)
Rainbow Trout (Stocked)
Brook Trout (Wild)


Southeast Minnesota

Nearest Towns

April 18 through September 14 -
General trout season:The South
Branch and Tributaries Canfield and
Forestville Creek are open in
Forestville State Park - catch and
release only - all year.! Downstream
from the park is closed to fishing until
January 1, 2016.


Non-Resident License
State of Minnesota

National Weather Service Link

Fly Fishing Tackle, Gear and
Trout Flies
South Branch of the
Root River, Minnesota
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Mid April through mid September
Late Spring is probably the best time to
fish the stream
Fly fishing the Root River can be slow in
the lower parts of the river during the
hottest part of Summer
South Branch Root River Fly Fishing Guide:
This beautiful small, spring fed stream has a constant
flow of water with moderate runs, but mostly slow
riffles and long pools. Much of its banks are grass
covered but some areas have heavy brush along the
banks. The fish are very plentiful and fishing is
usually fairly easy. The stream is well stocked and the
fish usually respond well to dry flies. Of course, the
wild browns that exist in parts of the stream are not
that easy to catch.

The rainbows tend to stay out in the faster water of
the runs and riffles along with the smaller brown trout.
The larger browns seek the shade of heavy cover
consisting mostly of undercut banks. The stream is
much like a western meadow stream. It meanders
back and forth trough pasture country with heavy
streamside vegetation along its banks. The larger
browns are usually found in the outside bends of the
creek or anywhere there is deadfalls or trees limbs in
the water.  

Although generic flies will work fine for the newly
stocked rainbow and brown trout, catching the larger
holdover brown trout usually requires matching the
available aquatic insects. Streamers also work well for
catching the larger brown trout during the Fall
South Branch Root River Hatches
and Trout Flies:
Our information on aquatic insects is
based on our stream samples of larvae
and nymphs, not guess work. We base fly
suggestions on imitating the most plentiful
and most available insects and other
foods at the particular time you are
fishing. Unlike the generic fly shop trout
flies, we have specific imitations of all the
insects in the South Branch of the Root
River and in all stages of life that is
applicable to fishing. If you want to fish
better, more realistic trout flies, have a
much higher degree of success, give us a
call.  We not only will help you with
selections, you will learn why, after trying
Perfect Flies, 92% of the thousands of our
customers will use nothing else.

The South Branch of the Root River has a
large variety of aquatic insect hatches and
a large number of terrestrials along its
banks. Imitations of both types of insects
can produce trout at the right time of the

You can find various species of
Blue-winged Olives, including
species, from about the middle of March
all the way through the month of
September. They are generally heavier in
the early part of the year and again in the
later part of that time span.

Blue quills will hatch in the moderate to
fast water sections of the streams from
about the middle of April through the
month of May. Hendrickson mayflies can
hatch starting as early as the first of April
and lasting as long in some areas as the
end of May.

Sulphurs hatch mostly in June but can be
found in certain parts of the stream as
early as middle May. Some Light Cahill
can be found in the faster sections of
water from about the middle of June until
the middle of July.

Slate Drakes exist in some parts of the
stream. They hatch later in the year from
about the middle of July on into
September. The Tricos represent a big
hatch on many parts of the Root River.
They usually start about the middle of
June and can hatch as late as the last part
of September.
Hatches, continued:
The first caddisfly hatches of importance
are the Little Black Caddisflies. These are
Brachycentrus species and can hatch
as early as mid April and last until the
middle of May, depending on the section
of water. These are moderate to fast
water caddisflies.

Both spotted Sedges and Cinnamon
Caddisflies exist in the Root River, but it
has mostly Cinnamon Caddis. They start
hatching as early as May and can last
until the end of September. Little Green
Caddis exist in most of the fast water
areas of the stream. They are best known
for their larva stage of life. The imitations
of them are called Green Rock Worms.
Trout can be taken most anytime of the
year on these flies.

Don't overlook craneflies. They can be
important, especially in the moderate to
slow areas of water. Imitations of the
adults and larva can be effective from
June through September.  Terrestrial
insects are present in large quantities on
many areas of the river. Imitations of
grasshoppers, ants and beetles will catch
trout from about the first of June through
the month of September.

Streamers are very important flies,
especially for the larger brown trout.
Imitations of sculpin, baitfish, minnows,
and leeches are all effective at times,
especially when the water has a little color
to it. They also work in low light conditions
such as early and late in the day or on
heavily overcast days.

We have "Perfect Flies" that imitate every
aquatic and terrestrial insect that exist on
the Root River. If you haven't already
done so, we invite you to give them an
opportunity to prove valuable to you.
They are not only the most imitative of the
insects, they are the most effective trout
flies at catching trout that you can
Early Fall is an excellent time due to Trico
hatches and spawning brown trout.
S.F. Root River
Fly fishing South Fork Root River Mn
South fork Root River
Fishing South Fork Root River
Thumbnails: Click to enlarge
Thumbnails: Click to enlarge
Fishing Report Updated 10/29/19
(Bottom Of Page)
South Branch Root River Fishing Report - 10/29/19
The stream is still flowing high, but falling. There are some very good hatches taking
place and fishing should be good again as soon as the water level subsides.

Stream Conditions:

7 Day Weather Forecast:
There is a chance snow Wednesday and Thursday and a
chance of rain/snow Sunday night through Tuesday, otherwise clear.
The highs will
range from
35 to 40 degrees and lows from 23 to 30 degrees.

Recommended Trout Flies:
Rate: 1980 cfs
Level: 5.73 ft
Afternoon Water Temperature: 48
Clarity: stained
USGS Real-Time Stream Flow Data Near Houston MN
Brown Sculpin and White Belly Sculpin,and Articulated/Non-Articulated Streamers 6/4
Blue-winged Olives, size 20/18, nymphs, emergers, duns and spinners
Slate Drakes size 10/12, nymphs and spinners
Mahogany Duns, size 18, nymphs, emergers, duns and spinners
October Caddis, size 6, pupa and adults
Midges: Blood (Red), sizes 20/22, larva, pupa and adults
Midges: Cream, size 20/22, larva, pupa and adults
Midges: Light Green, size 20/22, larva, pupa and adults
Strategies, Techniques and Tips:
Brown Sculpin and White Belly Sculpin are great streamers to use at this time of the
Blue-winged olives are hatching..
Slate Drakes are working.
Mahogany duns are hatching.
October caddis are hatching..
We still think a good strategy is to fish a tandem Midge rig under a small strike indicator
with the midge lava as the bottom fly and the midge pupa as the top fly. Fish the adult
midge only when you observe trout feeding on the surface
Options For Selecting Flies:
1. Email us (
with the dates you will be fishing this
stream and we will send you a list of our
fly suggestions. Please allow up to 24
hours for a response.

2. Call us 800-594-4726 and we will help
you decide which flies you need.

3. Email us (
with a budget for flies and we will select
them to match the budget and get them to
you in time for your fly fishing trip.

All orders are shipped free in the
U. S. Orders over $100 are shipped via
Priority Mail.  
Catch and release runs through the winter