Copyright 2015 James Marsh
Fly Fishing Guide to the Wolf River in Wisconsin
The Wolf River is much like a Western trout stream. It is fast enough that it is also a very
popular rafting river. The current is very strong at times and in certain places. The water in the
Wolf River average about fifty yards wide. It is slightly alkaline. The river is bordered with trees,
some of which are huge. The water temperature can reach into the low eighties during the
summer and is why the trout are regularly stocked. The trout find relief where small springs
seep into the river during the hot summer.
This river can run very high and fast during the early spring season. Flows can reach as high
as 2000 cfs yet run as low as 50 cfs during periods of low water. It can be very difficult to wade
at in the Spring. Some prefer to fish it from a rubber raft. Later in the season, it settles down
and is wadable. It can be very dangerous to wade and it is a good idea to use a wading staff.
Deep holes are easy to step into if you are not careful. There are some rapids that are difficult
to wade anytime and some that cannot be waded at all.
State owned access is available along highway #55 and at several bridges. The Military Park
access north of Lilly is an excellent location. There are many other access points.
The large boulders in the stream create deep holes and the perfect habitat for large brown
trout. Nymph fishing in the deep holes can be very effective if done correctly. From Pearson
downstream to Lilly the river gradually declines. The flow is generally slow compared to some
sections and there are only a couple of areas of fast water. From Lilly downstream to the
Indian Reservation, the river drops at a much greater decline. There are many sections of
rapids. This is the area that attracts most of the rafters and fast water kayaks. It is also the
water that the trout perfer during warm weather. The trout will seek the highly oxygenated
water during hot weather and warm water temperatures. This is also the section of the river
that has some natural reproduction of trout. It cannot sustain the population the state wants it
to have and supplemental stocking is done.
The rainbow trout that exist in the stream are mostly found in the tributaries, especially those b
below Pearson and near seepage from springs. These tributary streams also provide small
stream fishing for browns and brook trout.
There's a special six mile long catch and release section that starts at the railroad trestle at
Hollister and extends downstream to Dierck's Irrigation Hole.
To fish the river successfully, you must be able to fish the many hatches. The trout can
become very selective on some of the insects. Dry fly fishing is normally very good then but
otherwise you are better off fishing nymphs or streamers. The high stickin method of fishing
nymphs works great in the faster sections of the river. In the upper, slow moving water, it may b
e necessary to make downstream presentation but otherwise, fish in an upstream direction.
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Wolf River, Wisconsin