Brook trout—technically not even a trout, but rather a species of char—are the only natives here, swimming in the most pristine currents of the Driftless as they’ve done forever. Brook trout are ferocious yet fragile, demanding nothing but the purest water for their survival, thus their presence always indicates a healthy watershed. Connecting with an ancient brookie should be on every Driftless angler’s bucket list. Rainbow and brown trout, hardier distant cousins of brookies, didn’t exist in the Driftless until folks brought their eggs over on a ship and dropped them into streams starting in the 1800s. Today, naturally reproducing (“wild”) browns get the most attention here because of their astonishing abundance and glowing beauty. Rainbows are usually the table fare.