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I had the pleasure of fishing with John on both the Mississippi and St. Croix Rivers for smallmouth. John really knows how and where to fish, and he works hard to get you into fish. An added bonus is that he is a nice guy.

Ron Watson





Smallmouth Bass fly fishing float trips
Many experts consider the Smallmouth Bass to be the fly fishers favorite warmwater fish. The rarely fickle Smallmouth will satisfy veteran and novice fly anglers with numerous leaps and strong runs.

Headwater uses fly fishing friendly boats with the discriminating fly fisher in mind. We float with a variety of river style boats. We use a Hyde Low Profile Pro Series drift boat, we also use a 16' Lowe customized john boat powered by a jet outboard motor for efficient shallow water traveling. Clients will fish one or two fly fishers in one boat with one guide. Groups of more than two fly fishers (requires two boats) can be accommodated with advance notice.

The Upper Midwest boasts some of the finest river Smallmouth Bass fly fishing found anywhere. Within a 2-hour drive of the Twin Cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul Minnesota the discriminating fly angler will find many superb smallmouth bass rivers. The Upper Mississippi River and the St.Croix River are nationally recognized as two of the best smallmouth destinations in the country.

Headwaters Fly Fishing Company is a licensed, registered and insured fly-fishing guide service with an IBP National Park Permit for guiding on the Wild and Scenic St. Croix and Namekagon Rivers.

Upper Mississippi River
The Mississippi River is the largest river in North America. The Upper Mississippi River is widely known as the best Midwest waterway for landing a truly big smallmouth bass on a fly. This fertile beauty is close to the metro area as well- only 35 minutes from almost anywhere in the Twin Cities. The smallies here grow quickly due to a long growing season and an abundant supply of forage. The numerous year classes of smallmouth from 14"-18" are active fighters and they make up the bulk of the daily catch. The always-present "Large" smallmouth make the Mississippi a great destination. Guiding on this river since 1987 has taught us how to target these big fish and we are rarely disappointed by one of the big "horses". The Mississippi is a big, swift flowing, classic smallmouth river that was made for fly fishing. The long rocky runs and riffles have deep channels near by that hold big Smallmouth and the occasional Northern Pike. The scattered in-stream rock piles deposited by glaciers centuries ago are perfect ambush points for mature Smallmouth. This stretch of river is a State of Minnesota Department of Natural Resources Special Regulations resource with a strong catch and release ethic in place. An autumn no-kill policy has increased the number of large smallies on the Mississippi as well.


St. Croix River
The Upper St. Croix River is a rare resource. Consider a 165 mile long unpolluted river flowing through a wilderness setting within 2 hours of a metropolitan area. The National Parks system manages this Wild and Scenic River well. The wild animals and native fish of the St. Croix find their home in a rugged, wild region, a lonely and beautiful land of lofty pines, brooks, creeks and rivers. This is a classic smallmouth fly fishing river. The Upper St. Croix remains today much as it was over a century ago. Many former busy lumbering streams join the main St. Croix to become a waterway trail for modern day canoeists and fly fishers. The Smallmouth Bass of the St. Croix watershed have attracted fly fly fishers since the early 1900's. These great fish will attack almost any fly some days. On most days the fly caster that throws a tight loop with a deer hair diver or a hard foam popper will find plenty of active fish. Seasonal no-kill regulations on all smallmouth bass have increased the number of large smallies on the St. Croix. Every year we find a few Muskies on our trips as well. Over the years, we have added several segments of the St.Croix to our list and we now guide on close to 100 miles of this beautiful river.


Fly Fishing for Steelhead

The wild tributaries of Western Lake Superior are home to one of the world's great freshwater gamefish- Wild Steelhead. Many streams within 3 hours of the Twin Cities of Minneapolis/St.Paul have wild populations of these migratory rainbow trout. Walk-in trips are the only way to access the best water on famous rivers such as the Brule, Baptism and Knife. Many other rivers are found in this region. All of them host runs of steelhead. Headwaters Fly Fishing Company has been fishing/guiding these scenic waterways since 1980.

Brule River
Wisconsin's Brule River is a famous trout stream and steelhead fishery. This river is the main course on our steelhead menu. The Brule is scenic and wild. This special river has a long history of Fly fishers, Voyageurs, Native Americans and United States Presidents. (Not necessarily in that Order!) The Steelhead of the Brule are just as special. They are as wild and spectacular as their home water. The state of Wisconsin has placed a trophy regulation on the Brule River to ensure that there will be plenty of big Brule steelhead in the future.

Western Wisconsin and Southeast Minnesota Trout Streams

If fly fishing for trout is your passion or interest, you're in the right spot. Western Wisconsin and Southeastern Minnesota's " Driftless Area" have more than 2500 miles of high quality trout streams. Thousands of trout streams will be found in this region. Wild Brown Trout are the most abundant trout species in our streams. Native Brook Trout are found in some of the better streams as well.

This concentration of limestone spring creeks has been compared to the limestone spring creeks of Pennsylvania, the spring creeks of the western US and the Chalk streams of England. This is a unique area of rolling hills, ridges and valleys. Perfect for the production of spring creeks. Walk-in trips are Headwater's specialty on these fertile trout streams.

Excellent hatches are found on our streams. Baetis (many sp.), Hendrickson (light and dark) Sulphur, Hexagenia, "Trico"and many caddis species will challenge the most experienced fly anglers.


Booking a Trip / Rates

Booking a Trip
A 50% deposit is required when a trip is booked. The balance is due on your trip date. No refunds will be made within 30 days of your scheduled trip. We will notify you if weather or water conditions require cancellation or rescheduling of your trip. In such case a full refund will be made if other arrangements cannot be made to your satisfaction.

Smallmouth bass float trips
$425/day 1-2 anglers
3-4 anglers can be accommodated with advance notice

Spring creek walk in trips
$350/day 1 or 2 anglers
$225/half day 1 or 2 anglers

Steelhead trips
$425/day 1-2 anglers

Fly fishing schools-on the water
$200 per person @ 1-2 people
$175 per person @ 3-6 people

  •  Gratuities not included in the price of trip
  •  Lunch and beverages are included on all trips