Whitewater River trout
Fly fishing Whitewater River
Copyright 2019 James Marsh
Fly Fishing The Whitewater River
The first time we visited the Whitewater River, we were
expecting to see just that - whitewater. We didn't find
any. What we did find was a small trout stream that
was full of willing brown, brook and rainbow trout.

The Whitewater River is created by three branches
that flows out of the prairie area of Minnesota - the
North, Middle and South Branches of the Whitewater.
These streams are all limestone, spring fed streams
with a very good water chemistry for aquatic insects
and a high pH.

Trout Run and Beaver Creek also tributaries of the
small river. The Whitewater River is a tributary of the
Mississippi River.

The Whitewater flows through a wide valley with a few
aspen and cottonwood trees.  Most of the banks of
the stream have heavy vegetation.

The streambed consist mostly of gravel and sand.
There are slow runs and riffles between long,
sometimes deep pools that hold plenty of brown trout.
Undercut banks are present just about the stream's
entire length.

Whitewater State Park has over three miles of catch
and release waters. This is usually considered the
best stretch to fish but it is also the most popular.
Type of Stream

Brown Trout
Rainbow Trout
Brook Trout
(Mostly Stocked Trout, some wild)

Small to Medium

Southeast Minnesota

Nearest Towns

April 18 through September 14

Special Regulations
Catch and Release- Barbless Hooks
Only from Jan. 1 to March 31. Park
open year-round


Non-Resident License
State of Minnesota

National Weather Service Link

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Whitewater River Fly Fishing Guide
The fishing techniques for fly fishing the Whitewater
River vary greatly with the particular section of the
river and the type of water you are fishing. The
Whitewater River actually has four main sections that
are different. They are the North Branch, the Middle
Branch, the South Branch and the Main River. You will
find that the main river has most of the rainbow trout.
They exist just about everywhere but the Middle
Branch. The headwaters of the Middle Branch
contains most of the brook trout.  

This river has a lot of access points. It flows through a
large wildlife management area. It also flows through
two State Parks with plenty of access. There are many
places along public easement areas where you can
fish. The state publishes a guide to all the access
points. It can be found on the
Minnesota Department
of Natural Resources website along with lots of other
useful information.

The North Branch can be accessed in Carley State
Park located near Plainview off County Road #4.
You can access the river along Highway 74 at Weaver
to Whitewater State Park. Much of the river parallels
the highway. The three branches, North, South and
Middle come together at the little town of Elba.  just
south of Elba and parallels the river the entire way.
The town of Elba is where the North, South and Middle
branches come together to form the Main Branch.

There are a few areas of small riffles and runs but
most of the water meanders along from slow to
moderate speeds. One of the most effective ways to
fish the Whitewater River is using strike indicators and
nymphs. The bottom is fairly level in many areas and
you can adjust the depth of the fly fairly well. Of
course the fishing is best just before or during a
hatch. Dry fly fishing can also be excellent.
There is a general season and also catch
and release seasons in certain areas.
Spring fishing can be good provided the
water levels are not too high. Most of the
hatches start occurring in late Spring.
Summertime can be good in much of the
stream. Some areas can get on the warm
side, but the upper sections fish fairly good
during hot weather.
Whitewater River Hatches and Trout
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
Battenkill and in all stages of life that are
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 Whitewater River has a variety of
aquatic insect hatches and a large number
of terrestrials along its banks during the
summer. Imitations of both can produce trout
at the right time of the season but the trout
are rarely selective about what they eat.

You can find various species of Blue-winged
Olives, including
baetis 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 areas 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. March browns hatch in the
fast water sections of the Whitewater River
from about the middle of May through the
middle of June. Light Cahill can also be
found in the faster sections of water from
about the middle of June until the middle of

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 Whitewater 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 Whitewater, 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 Whitewater 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 you can purchase.
The fall may be the best season the fish
the Whitewater River.
The water fed by springs want freeze
during the winter and offers decent
fishing, mostly on midge imitations.
Whitewater River Fishing Report:
04/08/14 We will have our first fishing report
for the Whitewater River about a week prior
to the start of the season on April 18th.
Check back with us then. There is a
catch and release section open but no
reports of anyone fishing due to the weather.
Whitewater River Minnesota
Fly fishing Whitewater River
Whitewater River
Thumbnails: Click to enlarge
Thumbnails: Click to enlarge
Fishing Report Updated 10/29/19
(Bottom Of Page)
Options For Selecting Flies:
1. Email us (sales@perfectflystore.com)
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 (sales@perfectflystore.com)
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.  
04/15/14 The season starts in three more
days. There will be a chance of rain and
snow on opening day with highs in the
forties and lows in the thirties.
04/22/14 The Whitewater River fishing
season opened April 18th but no reports
have come in from anglers fishing. One
customer ordered flies for a trip he plans
to make next week.
04/28/14 There is a chance of rain everyday
for the next seven days, so expect high
water levels. Streamers would be the best
option when levels start receding.
05/06/14 High stream levels still exist. Much
warmer weather is in the forecast and
conditions should improve in the near future.
05/13/14 Stream levels are still very high and
no reports from anyone fishing this past week.
05/20/14 The Whitewater River remains very
high and it will take some time for the levels
to subside.
05/26/14 Steam levels are getting in good
shape and warming up fast. Expect hatches
Quill Gordons, Blue-winged Olives, Blue
Quills, Little Back Caddis and others to begin
if not already.
06/03/14 Levels have been up and down
but back near decent shape. It is much
warmer and hatches are continuing. Two
customers reported catching a few trout this
past week.
06/10/14 One more good report. Stream
levels have varied from good to bad so be
sure to check them out. Blue Quills, Quill
Gordons and some other insects are
07/08/14 Stream levels have been high
much of the time recently but when down
and wadable, the fishing has been great.
Two customers reporting some good
07/22/14 Stream levels are down near
normal and trout are being caught. Lots of
hatches are taking place. Now is the time.
07/29/14 Stream levels are back up and
no reports came in this past week.
08/12/14 Lots of insects are hatching but
high water levels have hurt the fly fishing
opportunities. Conditions should improve
very soon.
09/02/12 High water levels have been a
problem now for some time. Only a couple
reports have come in the past two weeks
and they were trout caught on streamers.
Conditions should improve soon.
09/16/14 Better stream levels and much
cooler water temps has improved the
catching big time. BWO's and terrestrials
working good this past week.
09/23/14 No reports from the past week.
Stream levels have been a problem. Better
conditions should be headed this way.
10/10/14 Stream levels are back up but
should be in good shape by the weekend.
10/21/14 We didn't receive any reports
from last week but conditions should be
getting back in good shape.
10/28/14 Catch-and-Release angling
for all trout is allowed from October 15 to
December 31 on Middle Branch Whitewater
River and Trout Run Creek
11/11/14 One good report from a customer
using our Brown Sculpin streamer. High
water levels have been a problem. Keep a
close check. Very cold weather ahead.
12/16/14 No reports from the past month, i
assume due to the weather but conditions
haven't been bad at all the past two weeks.
01/05/15 Sorry for the slow reports. Catch
and release section is open. Let us hear
from you.
01/26/15 We didn't receive any reports from
the past two weeks. Conditions are better
now (not so cold) so let us hear from you.
03/02/15 Still no reports from anglers. Much
better weather is ahead this coming week.
03/16/15 There has been some high water,
off color water the past several days. Snow
melt isn't helping but much better
conditions should be coming this week.
03/23/15 No reports. More snow is on
the way but it won't be long. Let us help
you plan your next trip.
04/20/15 Opening day turned out to be
fairly good. Two customers reported
catching a few trout. Let us hear from you.
04/27/15 No reports from anyone fishing.
Conditions were not bad last week. Let us
hear from you. Watch for Quill Gordons &
Blue Quills
05/04/15 Two good reports from customers.
Hatches are beginning to take place as the
water is getting much warmer.
05/18/15 Good conditions and lots of
hatches. BWOs, Blue Quills, Amer. March
Browns, Little Black Caddis and others.
5/25/15 Good conditions continue. Watch
the levels. There is a good chance of rain
most days this coming week.
06/08/15 Anglers are catching fish when the
stream levels have been good during the
past two week. Lots of hatches starting up.
06/29/15 Stream levels have been mostly
higher than normal with lots of hatches
taking place. One good report the past week.
07/06/15 Stream levels are back near normal
and several hatches are taking place.
07/13/15 Good conditions now, but watch the
levels. Lots of rain is in the forecast.
07/20/15 Two good reports but levels were
high most of the week. It should be better this
coming week.
08/03/15 Stream levels back in good shape
and lots of trout are being caught. Sulphurs
and terrestrials are working.
08/17/15 Two good reports from customers
catching several trout this past week. Tricos,
sulphurs and terrestrial imitations are working.
08/31/15 Mahogany duns starting to hatch.
B.W.O.s should be starting soon. Little Yellow
Stoneflies also hatching.
09/07/15 Stream levels have been high but
we are having cooler weather and good
09/14/15 Regular trout season closed today.
Catch and release is open.
10/12/15 Catch and release is open until
October 15th but remember the state park is
open year-round.
10/26/15 Remember, the State park is the
only section open to trout fishing.
Blue-winged Olives and Great Autumn
Brown Sedges are hatching.
11/02/15 You may want to add midges to your
list of flies.
Cream and Red (blood) midges are
most plentiful.
11/16/15 Conditions have been pretty good
lately but there is rain or rain/snow forecast
for the next week. Be sure to check the
11/30/15 There have been a few days the
conditions were good and some trout caught
but the stream levels are back up.
12/14/15 The warm weather has really helped
the water temperature and some trout were
caught and released but it is back high at this
01/25/16 Sorry, we are behind posting. Our local
contact was on vacation. We don't think there
has been much to report. It is "catch and
release" season and remember, barbless hooks.
It is legal to squeeze the barbs down on the
hooks. The water temperature in the park is 36
degrees. Fish our cream midge larva and pupa
in tandem, in the slack current, not fast water.
03/07/16 As I am sure everyone knows, it has
been very cold but that is about to start
changing. Catch and release is still in effect and
right now, you have some opportunity to do that.
Midges, creams and reds, larva and pupa flies,
and winter stoneflies are what you should imitate.
03/14/16 The warm weather continues. It has
melted snow and that is keeping the water
temperature down, but trout are being caught on
scuds, midges, red and cream, and Brown
Sculpin streamers.
03/28/16 Send us an email and let us help you
plan that next fly fishing trip to the Whitewater.
04/11/16 Four more days until the regular
season opens. No rain or snow is in sight for
the  next week and the water levels are falling.
04/25/16 The season got off to a good start with
good stream levels and warm weather. Watch
the levels as rain is forecast about everyday.
Blue Quills, Little Black Caddis, Blue-winged
olives will soon be hatching if not already.
05/09/16 There is more rain forecast. Fish
sculpin streamers when it is high.
05/16/16 The stream is still just a little above
normal but could be waded in places. The levels
are dropping and the water is clear. Scuds,
Blue-winged olives, Blue quills and American
March Browns are hatching. Green sedges
should soon begin to hatch.
05/30/16 The stream levels are down in good
shape and our customers are reporting
catching a lot of trout. Green Sedges, BWOs,
light Cahills, and other insects are hatching.
06/06/16 Two good reports came in this past
week from customers ordering more flies. Scuds
and Brown sculpin streamers worked for them
but we think dry fly action should be better soon.
06/20/16 The stream levels are still a little high
but customers sent in two good reports from the
weekend. Light cahills, A. March Browns, Green
Sedges (caddis), BWOs, Blue Quills and more.
07/04/16 The stream is in good shape, good
levels, clear water with BWOs, A. March Browns,
Light Cahills, Sulphurs, Cinnamon Caddis,
Green Sedges, and more hatching.
07/18/16 Currently, the water levels are a little
high but with lots of hatches. Fish it as soon
as it drops some more.
08/01/16 The stream is a little high right now
but falling. Lots of insects are hatching and
good reports are coming in from customers.
08/15/16 Slate Drakes, Tricos, and Cinnamon
Caddis are hatching. Terrestrials like
Carpenter ants, beetles and hoppers work well.
08/29/16 The stream levels are running a little
high but dropping. Good weather forecast.
Lots of hatches taking place and hoppers are
working good.
09/26/16 Just a note to say the season
Closed mid Sept. It opens again C and R the
first of Jan. It is open year-round in the park
for catch and release.
10/10/16 Park is open and the water high but
clear. Blue-winged olives and sculpin
streamers are your best flies at this time.
11/14/16 The nice warm weather has allowed
anglers good opportunity to catch and release
trout in the State park for the  past month.
Currently, Blue-winged olives and cream
midges are hatching good.
12/05/16 The weather is finally getting cold.
Cream and Blood or red midges will catch trout.
Fish them in tandem. Winter stoneflies are
01/02/17 The "catch and release" barbless
hooks season started yesterday. Midges,
creams with the larva and pupa fished in
tandem should get you some trout. You can
mash the barbs down on hooks.
01/16/17 Conditions are much better with
warmer water and weather. Midges, creams and
reds and scuds will work. Let us hear from you.
01/30/17 Two good reports a few days ago came
in. The water is still mid thirties. Midges, with the
larva and pupa in tandem, will catch trout.
02/20/17 The weather is hot, high's in the
sixties but turning back near normal Friday. We
haven't received any reports but remember, C
and R fishing is open in the state park.
03/13/17 The warm weather was nice but it is
cold again. Midges, Creams and Reds, and
sculpin streamers are the flies you should use.
03/28/17 Stream levels are in good shape and
the water clear. Midges, little BWOs and
Sculpin streamers are working.
04/17/17 We received two good reports from
the past week. There is a chance of rain
through Thursday. Blue Quills, Quill Gordons,
little Black Caddis and larger BWOs will start
hatching very soon.
05/01/17 The hatches continue but the water is
running a little high. There is rain through
Wednesday, then ending.
05/08/17 The river is still flowing high, too high
to wade in most places, but falling fast. It
should be good shape very soon.
05/22/17 Stream levels are high but lots of
insects are hatching trout fishing from the
banks is producing for some.
06/06/17 The water levels are still a little high
but falling. Fish as soon as the get down a
little more.
06/26/17 The stream is high again and stained.
There are lots of hatches taking place. It can
be fishing from the bank in many places.
07/10/17 The flows are back to normal and
lots of insects are hatching. Terrestrials are
also working.
07/17/17 Conditions are good. We received two
good reports from customers this past week.
Lots of little Yellow stones and light Cahills.
07/24/17 High water is getting down in good
shape. Lots of hatches are taking place.
07/31/17 Stream levels are staying high. It is
on the way down currently and hopefully,will
be in good shape very soon.
08/14/17 Getting some very good reports
from customers. Good hatches and stream
levels. Send us an email for a fly list.
09/18/17 The regular season closed the
14th. Catch and release season is still open.
10/02/17 Catch and release open to the 15th
but the State Park is open year-round. Good
hatches - Mahogany duns and BWOs.
10/31/17 We received one good report from
the State park. BWOs,and midges are
hatching. Sculpin streamers are working.
12/13/17 The park is open year-round catch
and release. Send us an email for a fly list.
01/23/18 A reminder that the catch and
release season that is open is barbless
hooks only. Yes, you can bend the barbs
down with pliers.
04/19/18 The regular fishing season opened
yesterday. Let us hear from you.
05/03/18 The first hatches will be Blue quills,
Little Brown stoneflies, Quill Gordons, Little
Black Caddis and Blue-winged olives. This
should start very soon.  
05/24/18 The water is getting warmer and
some good hatches are taking place. Good
fishing opportunity is just around the corner.
Send us an emal for a fly list.
06/07/18 The stream has come alive with
hatching insects. Blue-winged olives are the
main one but there are lots of caddis. Scuds
and sowbugs are also working.
06/28/18 The stream levels are currently
high but falling and should be in good
shape soon.
07/05/18 The river is in much better shape
and trout are being caught in good
numbers. There are lots of hatches taking
place. Send us an email for a fly list.
07/19/18 Stream levels have been good but
recent rain has the high but they are falling
fast. There are lots of good hatches taking
place and trout being caught.
08/02/18 There are some very good
hatches taking place. Stream levels have
been high but falling and getting in good
shape at this time.
08/16/18 The river is in good shape with
good numbers of trout being caught. There
are good hatches. Shoot us an email for a
fly list.
09/06/18 The stream levels are very high but
should be falling back down fast as there is
no more rain in the forecast for the coming
09/20/18 The stream levels are high again
but is falling fast. Check back soon. It should
be fine soon.
09/30/18 Stream levels are still high but the
stream can be fished from the bank in many
places. Sculpin streamers will work good.
10/17/18 Stream levels are up a little again
but can be wading safely with caution in
many places. We are getting some good
reports. Remember: park open year-round.
05/05/19 The new season is off to a slow
start. The water is still in the high forties but
it is warming up fast.
05/26/19 The stream levels are still high, too
high to wade most places. It can be fished
from the banks in places.
06/14/19 The stream levels are very high,
too high to wade and too high to fish in our
opinion. It should fall back out soon.
06/21/19 Stream levels are a little high but
falling. Good hatches are taking place and
trout are being caught.
06/30/19 Stream levels still a little high but
dropping and getting into good shape fast.
Some trout are being caught. Good hatches
are taking place.
07/07/19 The stream levels are still high, too
high to wade most places. It can be fished
from the bank in places.
07/14/19 The river is still flowing a little too
high to wade safely. It can be fished in a few
places stepping in the edges of the stream
and or from the bank. Good hatches are
taking place.
07/22/19 The stream level is still a little high,
too high to wade safely in most places, okay
in others. Lots of hatches are taking place.
Send us an email for a fly list.
08/09/19 The river is flowing high but can be
waded in some places with caution. There
are lots of insects hatching. It should be
falling down very soon.
09/01/19 The stream is a little above normal
levels but in good shape. There are good
hatches taking place and we are getttng
some good reports from customers.
09/23/19 We get good reports when the
stream levels are down near normal but the
river is high again.
10/22/19 The river levels are near normal
and we are getting good reports from our
customers. Midges are hatching and October
Caddis and Sculpin streamers are working.
10/29/19 The river remains near normal
levels and we continue to get good reports.
Midges rigged in tandem are working as well
as Sculpin patterns.