Note: 2019 was Start Prairie Trout Farm’s last season at Mill City Farmers Market.
An hour east of Minneapolis in the scenic town of Star Prairie, Wisconsin, sits a gem of history and 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. 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.
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.
Star Prarie Farm offers tours and trout fishing opportunities for visitors.