An hour east of Minneapolis in the scenic town of Star Prairie, Wisconsin, sits a gem of history and haven for delicious cold-water trout. Located on the bank of the Apple River, Star Prairie Trout Farm is a 150-year-old fish farming operation, raising rainbow trout in natural spring water.
Visiting in winter, it is impressive to see fish swimming in clear ponds that stay 48 degrees year-round. Cold water is the natural habitat for rainbow trout, allowing them to grow at a slower rate, which results in dense, flavorful meat. It also eliminates the need for additives.
We don’t add any hormones, antibiotics or pesticides of any sort. We believe in raising them in an environment as close to their own as possible,” explains farm operations manager Nate Wendt.
Looking at the beautiful view of the river, scenic conifer and birch trees and white snow all around, it’s hard to remember that Star Prairie Trout is a working farm.
A true Wisconsin outdoorsman, Nate, along with his staff, do everything from controlling stock populations to managing a healthy diet of natural insects and high-quality feed to filleting and smoking the fish on-site at the farm.
Throughout the year, Nate and his team move fish from the on-site hatchery to the waiting ponds where they grow and move up the maze of shaded, clear-water ponds to the large fish area. Trout that survive the hungry eagle population, which are native to the area, are harvested for some of the best markets, co-ops and restaurants in the area. All of Star Prairie’s trout is smoked the day they are caught in the farm’s on-site smoking facility.
Whether you need an indulgent dip for your veggie tray, a new appetizer (bacon wrapped trout, anyone?) or an elegant salad like our Smoked Trout, Apple and Fennel Salad with Cider Vinaigrette, local smoked trout is perfect for your holiday menu. Star Prairie Trout Farm will be at the Mill City Farmers Market’s winter market inside the Mill City Museum (704 S. 2nd St.) this Saturday, December 14 and every first Saturday of the month January through April from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Nate offers fresh trout as well as a variety of smoked trout, including garlic peppercorn, dill, brown sugar and of course original.