The Kinnickinnic River winds 41 lazy miles through, down and around River Falls.
It supplies beauty and tranquility just outside one of the nation’s largest metro areas. Many enjoy the water’s constant, cool temperatures that vary only a few degrees in the dead of winter, or the dog days of summer.
River Falls has seen many changes throughout its 250 years along the Kinni, but the one constant has been the river and its trout.
The river is home to some of the best trout fishing in the state.
According to Travel Wisconsin, the Kinni is the No. 1 trout fishing spot in the state. The river is estimated to hold between 6,000 and 8,000 trout per mile.
The reason for the river’s ability to maintain high levels of trout is a complicated one. Trout need cool water and clear water to survive.
Many of the insects that trout eat can only survive if the water temperature stays under 60 degrees year round.
A slight change of only a few degrees can stress the insects that these fish eat and depend on.
These trout continue to prosper, and anglers throughout the Midwest travel to the Kinni to fish its waters.
John Wahlstrom is a senior history major and an avid Kinni angler. The main selling point in coming to the University, for him, was the river that runs through its back yard.
He routinely goes into the South Fork of the river to catch the limit of brown trout.
The river is a place for him to test his wits.
Trout fishing is unlike any other fishing. In order to be successful, the angler needs to be silent, stealthy and able to out-smart the fish. The water is crystal clear and not very deep so the trout can hear and see any person trying to catch one.
Wahlstrom likes fishing on the South Fork of the river because that is where the highest population of brook trout lives.
Brook trout are unique because they need very clear and crisp water that is low in toxins.
Because of these environmental requirements, Wahlstrom said “many great fisherman have never caught a brook trout.” Wahlstrom has been fishing on the shore of the Kinni for many years.
His dad, Dave, was a student at UW-River Falls and used to spend afternoons away from class catching brook trout, like his son.
One afternoon, John was out fishing the waters of the South Fork when he stumbled upon an untouched fishing hole. After catching his limit, and then some, he called his dad.
To the Wahlstrom’s surprise the hole is both their favorite on the river. They have never been there together, but both uncovered the hole, albeit 30 years apart.
The river is a hidden gem. John has seen only one person fishing in his four years of heavy fishing the river. The river continues to remain pristine because of the work done by many local towns people and Trout Unlimited. The river will remain something for all to enjoy. In 30 years John Wahlstrom hopes to have his favorite hole uncovered by his child, and have the torch continued to be passed on.