Brookville Tailwater Offers Trout All Year

Brookville Tailwater
Brookville Tailwater is a unique trout fishery in Indiana. Photo by author

Brookville Lake is one of Indiana’s premier destinations for outdoor recreation. There are three Department of Natural Resources properties―Mounds State Recreation Area, Quakertown State Recreation Area, and Whitewater Memorial State Park―surrounding the 5,260-acre lake. All told, the Brookville Lake complex of DNR properties, including land and water, totals more than 16,000 acres, so it’s easy to understand why Brookville is one of the most popular outdoor destinations in Indiana.

The lake offers incredible fishing for numerous species. Bass, walleye, catfish, panfish and more species are pursued. But one aspect of the fishery makes Brookville very unique in the state of Indiana is its tailwater trout fishery. Below the dam, there is a 2-mile stretch of river holding great numbers of brown and rainbow trout. The water being released from the dam is cold enough to sustain trout year round so anglers are able to chase trout here during every season.

Brookville tailwater fishing can be tough. At times, trout eat bugs so small you can barely see them with your own eyes. It can be technical fishing, and a lesson in frustration. This isn’t the greatest fish to pursue with worms under a bobber. When you see dozens of trout swimming in the stream but can’t convince one of them to crack their tight-lipped jaw, you may want to throw in the towel and return to pursuing simpler fish to catch, like bluegill. But persistence pays off and the reward of landing a trout in Indiana is worth the effort.

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Anglers may pursue these trout with any legal method of fishing, but this is a fine opportunity for fly fishing. Everyone from fly fishing novices to the most experienced among us should find pleasure in catching trout on a fly rod. These trout are smart, but they aren’t rocket-scientists. You can catch them on about anything, but taking trout on a fly is a special treat.

On my latest trip to Brookville tailwater, I arrived at the Brookville City Park on Fairfield Avenue late in the afternoon. After assembling my 4-piece fly rod and tying on a pair of nymphs, a size 16 Pheasant Tail on top with a size 20 black Zebra Midge dropper. Once rigged and ready to go, I made my way up stream to the first pool. With polarized sunglasses on, I was able to quickly locate a few trout holding right next to a boulder near the center of the pool. Knowing I was going to have to present my flies right on the bottom, I added a small split shot to my leader a foot above the Pheasant Tail.

The plan worked and before long I had a 13-inch rainbow flipping and flopping in my net. Trout are finicky fish that require delicate handling. Before touching one, wet your hand. This makes the contact with their skin less invasive. I personally try to not event touch the fish without the barrier of my net between my hand and them unless I’m going to take a picture.

When fishing the Brookville tailwater, or most others for that matter, subsurface flies, including nymphs wet flies and streamers are usually the the most consistent producers. However, you can catch tailwater trout on dry flies. Little midges and small mayflies, like Blue Winged Olives, will come off and can be matched to produce fish on the surface. The occasional trout will eat a stimulator pattern like a Royal Wulff or a hopper.

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Streamer fishing is a favorite of mine. I like the action of casting and retrieving a fly. Throwing a Wooly Bugger or Clouser Minnow in low light conditions is a good way to entice one of the big boys to bite.

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Brandon Butler
Long-time outdoor writer and native Hoosier Brandon Butler lives in Missouri and serves as the Executive Director of the Conservation Federation of Missouri. Previously, he worked with the Indiana Department of Natural Resources as Governor Mitch Daniels’ liaison to the department, Director of Sales and Marketing for Dominator365 and as the Marketing Manager Battenfeld Technologies, Inc.


  1. Good trout in southern IN? I gotta trout this… er, I mean try this. My fly fishing skills get a little rusty because I don’t get many opportunities to do it here in the Midwest. Most rivers are way too warm and turbid to sustain delicate trout. Thanks for the article.

  2. There is a distinct season and a time during the year where the fish you catch are “out-of-season”. Check DNR rules and regulations for details.


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