Restoring trout fishing opportunities in the heart of Wabeno

Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources’ crews are currently working in Wabeno to improve trout fishing adjacent to the town park and elementary school.
The goal is to make the trout fishing better, especially adjacent to the town park’s barrier free fishing platforms built by the Friends of Wabeno.
This project is a collaboration between the Forest County Potawatomi Community, the U.S. Forest Service, Trout Unlimited, Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, Town of Wabeno, School District of Wabeno, and Friends of Wabeno.
Adjacent to the park between Cavour Street and Moore Street, cut alder branches are being used to build brush bundles (above) that will be installed in the water on the river’s edge.
Laura MacFarland, Trout Unlimited’s Great Lakes stream restoration manager said the brush bundles will constrict the flow, helping the river to naturally wash fine sediments from the bottom of the stream resulting in a slightly deeper channel.

“This deeper water will be more attractive to trout and easier to fish,” MacFarland said. “The bundles will also provide a home for trout where they are able to hide from predators, darting in and out of their hiding places to feed. Kids will have an easier time fishing from the shore or from one of the several piers.”

Just downstream of the Wabeno Elementary School, crews are removing the remnants of an old mill dam. The dam was one of three that were partially removed in the early 1950s at the urging of the Nicolet Sportsman’s Club in an effort to improve brook trout fishing on the river by eliminating the mill ponds that warmed the water and degraded water quality.

Although breached, the three relic dams still negatively influence instream habitat due to their remaining sill and dike components. The remainder of these structures, including the rock abutments in the floodplain are being removed.

These activities are part of a much larger effort to restore over 2.6 miles of the river from National Forest land upstream to the Hwy C road crossing.

Earlier this summer, Trout Unlimited volunteers assisted the U.S. Forest Service in restoring more than a quarter-mile of habitat off North Branch Road.

Several other projects are slated for 2019, including the removal of mill dam remnants upstream of Cavour Street and the replacement of the Hwy C culvert.

Cumulatively, these projects will help to provide better habitat for trout and reduce water temperatures.

“Ultimately, the goal is to increase the number of naturally reproducing brook trout throughout the project area to provide Wabeno residents and visitors a thriving, sustainable fishery,” says MacFarland.

Learn more about TU’s efforts throughout the region at

By Mark Taylor. A native of rural southern Oregon, Mark Taylor has lived in Virginia since serving a stint as a ship-based naval officer in Norfolk. He joined the TU staff in 2014 after a 20-year run as a newspaper journalist, the final 16 as the outdoors editor of the Roanoke Times. A graduate of Northwestern University, he lives in Roanoke with his wife and, when they're home from college, his twin daughters.