- Dena Nechkash
Cast A Line Along Platteville’s Trail System
Grab your fishing pole and enjoy a day of fishing on Platteville’s Rountree Branch, a 6-mile-long Class II trout stream that follows the PCA Trail.
Wisconsin boasts more than 13,000 miles of trout streams, 6 miles of which are in Platteville. The Rountree Branch is a seepage and spring-fed tributary to the Little Platte River west of Platteville. The stream begins east of the city and meanders through the city along the PCA Trail.
According to the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR), Rountree Branch has overcome pollution to rebound fish habitat. In the 1960s the stream was considered to have no fisheries value due to pollution from various sources in and near Platteville, including industrial and municipal sources, abandoned mining waste piles and urban and agricultural non-point sources of pollution.
Water quality and instream habitat conditions have improved significantly, and the Rountree Branch is now considered a smallmouth bass nursery in its lower reaches.
According to the WI DNR, there are 6,120 miles of Class II trout streams in Wisconsin and they comprise 46 percent of Wisconsin's total trout stream mileage. Class II stream classification may have some natural reproduction, but not enough to utilize available food and space. Therefore, stocking is required to maintain a desirable sport fishery. These streams have good survival and carryover of adult trout, often producing some fish larger than average size.
Here’s what you need to know to make it a successful fishing adventure:
What can you catch in Rountree Branch?
Smallmouth bass (daily bag limit of 5; must be over 14 inches)
Largemouth bass (daily bag limit of 5; must be over 14 inches)
Trout (daily bag limit of 3; must be over 8 inches)
There are exceptions and limitations beyond these daily bag limits and size limits; be sure to check the trout fishing regulations. The early catch and release season is Jan. 1- May 6 and general open season is May 7- Oct. 15, 2022.
What equipment do you need?
Fishing license; you can purchase yours at Platteville Walmart or online at https://gowild.wi.gov/ (you will need to create an account).
Fishing regulations (printed copies can be found at the Platteville Regional Chamber and Platteville Walmart or you can find them online at https://dnr.wisconsin.gov/topic/Fishing)
Lures/bait (based on type of fish trying to catch). In Platteville you can find live bait at both Jeff’s Mini Mart and Walmart. Several other stores carry lures and other fishing tackle. Keep in mind that not all streams allow live bait, including worms. For instance, the Little Platte River allows only artificial lures.
Map of the body of water to make sure you are accessing the fishing area by public land. In some places you need to be in the water to avoid trespassing.
What is the best time of year/day to catch fish?
Spring for bass and trout
Bass and trout prefer colder waters, and you will find them in deep holes under rock walls on hot summer days. It’s best to fish for them in spring and early summer to be successful both in catching a fish and in releasing it back into the water without causing harm to the fish. They don’t survive long out of the water in the warm summer heat.
Where do you check fishing regulations on a body of water?
https://dnr.wisconsin.gov/topic/Fishing From here you can find the link to purchase your fishing license online, check out regulations for regular and trout fishing, and find maps for where to fish safely and legally.
Southwest Wisconsin features some great fishing opportunities. From the Platte Rivers, Grant River, Blue River, Mississippi River and Wisconsin River you can catch a wide variety of species and find some beautiful Driftless scenery, too. Grant County’s map (printed versions available at the Platteville Regional Chamber) shows all of the waterways and public access points to start your fishing adventures.
If you’d like to learn more about trout or bass fishing in the area, local fishing guide services such as Platteville’s Gates Driftless Guides or Fennimore’s Jim Romberg (trout only) is a great place to start, although guiding services are not specifically available for the Rountree Branch.