Just this year, my eight-year-old has developed a love of fishing. Yet despite multiple weekends spent along the various shores in Lake County, he had yet to catch a fish. Now I get that part of the beauty of fishing is simply spending time outdoors enjoying the water and learning about patience, but I was really starting to feel bad for my little guy!
I remembered that as a teenager my uncle had once taken me to a trout farm, so I began a furious internet search for one nearby. Sure, it’s a little like cheating, but this is fishing, not the ACT exam. Well the Google-gods smiled upon me that day and led me to Rushing Waters Fisheries in Palmyra, Wisconsin (less a than a 90-minute drive from central Lake County.)
Now I enjoy the outdoors, but usually at a safe distance and with experienced company. I would definitely put myself in the category of “outdoor-challenged.” I would much rather glamp than camp, and a vacation just isn’t a vacation without a porcelain toilet and maid service. My family, however, is a bit more adventurous. An afternoon at Rushing Waters Fisheries was the perfect compromise and a fantastic, no-hassle family activity.
Their website promised year-round trout fishing with no entrance fee or fishing license required. In fact, you don’t even need to bring any equipment! They provide everything you need from fishing poles, live bait, buckets, nets, and even pliers. You keep everything you catch and only pay per pound.
What is even better is they will clean and put your catch on ice for you. Your kids can even watch the process from behind glass in their pristine facility while your own clothing stays clean and pleasantly fish-gut-free.
Now it would be a crime to make the trip all the way out to Palmyra without taking advantage of their Hook & Cook lunch. It’s the perfect solution if you are as challenged in the kitchen as I am with a tent. It’s also ideal if you just can’t wait to enjoy your fresh catch!
Wednesday through Sunday during select hours, you can have your fish sent directly to the Chef who will prepare it either battered, pan-seared or half-and-half. Seasonal vegetables, potato pancakes, french fries, applesauce, and bread come with your meal. It’s a bit of a longer wait (after all, they are working from scratch) but it is so worth it! This is Wisconsin, and no state knows how to fry a fish more expertly than in good ol ‘Sconsin.
Because we had other plans that day, we opted to have our entire 6-pound catch served to us instead of putting any of it on ice. As you can see, it made for quite a generous meal! My children enthusiastically cleaned their plates although the mountain of potato pancakes and french fries ended up defeating us. It was the only thing left behind from our mammoth feast.
The Trout House is the name of the onsite restaurant which also serves a Sunday Brunch and hosts several special events like Lobster Boils and “Foodie” Dinners. In May, The Trout House hosted a Morel Foray where you forage for morel mushrooms and later enjoy dishes featuring your harvest. We missed out this year, but plan to return for their Father’s Day Brunch!
Now I have to admit that I have often read a lot of negative things about farm-raised fish, so I approached this experience with caution. I was delighted to learn that Rushing Waters employs sustainable farm practices and that their trout are raised without antibiotics. When you are onsite, you can see for yourself that the fish aren’t penned in tiny enclosures. The farm is actually a gorgeous piece of land in beautiful Kettle Moraine country. I wouldn’t mind being a fish there myself (all except for the being eaten part.)
Experienced outdoorsmen (or women) may turn their noses up at this inclusive experience. Literally, within seconds of casting a line, my six-year-old was squealing to help reel in her catch before we had even finished baiting all our hooks. In less than half an hour we had an immense catch! But you won’t find me complaining about how easy the fishing was. I’ll seek my challenges elsewhere thank you. The joy on my son’s face after months of coming up empty was well worth it!
While in the area, kids may also enjoy a visit to nearby Old World Wisconsin (less than a 15-minute drive away,) a living history museum celebrating our pioneer past. See my Old World Wisconsin review from 2013 for more insight.
What do you think about fishing at a trout farm?