Editor’s Note: The Driftless Area of the upper Midwest is an American treasure and a Trout Unlimited priority. It’s also a fly angler’s dream. This week, we begin our series on great Trout Unlimited Business members with a look at this conservation success story and destination fishery through the eyes of a great guide, Mike Warren from Trout Buddy Driftless Guides in LaCrosse, Wisc.
The Driftless Area takes in portions of four states: Wisconsin, Minnesota, Iowa and a small part of Illinois. This 24,000 square mile area was missed by the glaciers that ground down much of the landscape of the Upper Mississippi River Basin. The boulders and rubble left behind by glaciers are known as “glacial drift.” Early geologists noticed its absence and called it the “driftless area.” We are grateful, for what remains are the limestone and sandstone bluffs and hundreds of cold, clear spring-fed creeks.
These creeks provide fabulous trout fishing. It doesn’t get the hype that Montana or Alaska get. But what it does get is some great TU Business members and some very happy clients. Take Mike Warren at Trout Buddy Driftless Guides for example. Mike has been a resident of the Driftless Region for nearly 50 years, but his fishing adventure started in central Idaho, where he caught his first trout as a youngster growing up on the Hagerman National Fish Hatchery where his father worked as a regional fisheries pathologist.
Mike started fly fishing the Driftless Region in the early 80’s — long before today’s vast fisheries improvements, including TU’s Driftless Area Restoration Effort (TUDARE). You could say that Mike and the streams have grown together. Today, Mike fishes well over 150 days a year throughout the tri-state area, be it western Wisconsin, southeast Minnesota, or northeast Iowa. If he’s not guiding, he’s scouting new secluded spots or learning the subtle nuances of his favorite streams to share with clients.
Trout Buddy Driftless Guides was established in 2009 to provide a quality fly fishing experience to vacationers and day visitors to the Driftless Area. Mike provides a relaxed, friendly and non-intimidating fly-fishing experience entirely based on the client’s desires. No two days are ever the same. Every trip is tailor-made expressly for a specific client — no criticism, no unwanted lessons, just patience, assistance and all the equipment needed to have a great day on the water.
For the beginner who wants to learn a few skills, Mike can provide some “how-to” fly fishing basics, including understanding material, fly casting basics, and selecting a comfortable access stream. For the more seasoned fly angler, he can bring extensive local knowledge, clean, reliable transportation, a tasty tailgate or stream-side lunch, and access to the hard-to-find “honey holes.” But through it all, his first goal is to offer the friendship of a fellow local angler.
Trout Buddy Driftless Guides
La Crosse, WI 54601