Fishing in Wisconsin

From the expansive waters of the Great Lakes to the tranquil inland lakes and dynamic rivers, Wisconsin offers a rich and varied fishing experience.
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About Wisconsin

Wisconsin is renowned for its diverse fishing opportunities, offering a variety of environments from vast lakes to scenic rivers and smaller streams. The main fishing destinations begin with Lake Michigan, known for its exceptional salmon and trout fishing, especially near Milwaukee, Kenosha, Sheboygan, and Green Bay. Another Great Lake that Wisconsin has access to, Lake Superior around Chequamegon Bay, is also home to numerous fish species in its cold, clear waters. Inland, you can find lakes such as Lake Winnebago, as well as countless smaller lakes in the Vilas and Oneida Counties. The Wisconsin River is spanning the state, offering a variety of fishing experiences, and at the state's western border you can cast your line into the mighty Mississippi River. A valid Wisconsin fishing license is required for both residents and non-residents, and you might also need a stamp if you want to target specific species, such as trout and sturgeon, or areas, such as Great Lakes. Annual, short-term, and specialty licenses are available. Licenses can be purchased online through the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (WDNR) website, at authorized vendors, or WDNR offices. Bag and size limits may vary by species and water body. Always check the latest guidelines for specific limits. Be aware of protected and endangered species, and adhere to all catch and release guidelines where applicable. Some species have closed seasons to protect spawning populations. Verify open seasons for target species. Whether you’re trolling for salmon on Lake Michigan, fly fishing for trout in the Driftless Area, or ice fishing on Lake Winnebago, the state provides ample opportunities for anglers of all skill levels. With a commitment to conservation and adherence to regulations, anglers can enjoy the abundant natural resources Wisconsin has to offer while ensuring the sustainability of its fisheries for future generations.

Fishing Types

Wisconsin offers a rich and varied fishing experience, from the expansive waters of the Great Lakes to the tranquil inland lakes and dynamic rivers. The key fishing types in Wisconsin are lake and river fishing. The Great Lakes, however, are as big if not bigger than certain seas, so it's no surprize that some outfitters describe their offers as offshore. Last but not the least, Wisconsin provides some opportunities for backcountry fishing.

Targeted Fish Species

Wisconsin's diverse aquatic ecosystems host a wide variety of fish species, many of which are highly prized by recreational anglers. Both largemouth and smallmouth bass call Wisconsin its home. The best places for the former are said to be Lake Winnebago, Lake Mendota, and the Mississippi River, for the latter - Chequamegon Bay, Door County, and the Menominee River. Walleye, the predator valued as table fare, is also there, and so are the "crocodiles of Northern rivers: the pike and muskellunge. Many anglers value the small, but hard-fighting yellow perch, and no one should look down on crappie and bluegill. Members of the salmon and trout family always enjoy a privileged status among anglers, and Wisconsin has its fair share of them. Both native brook trout and introduced rainbow and brown trout can be caught in its rivers, and the Great Lakes are home to Chinook and Coho Salmon as well as lake trout. One can't fail to mention lake sturgeon, an ancient species, highly regulated and revered for its size and longevity.

Fishing Techniques

One of the most popular techniques in Wisconsin is trolling, especially in the Great Lakes, when targeting salmon, trout, walleye, and muskie. Spinning is no less popular, especially on smaller lakes and shorelines, and fly fishing is, as anywhere else, the preferred way to target trout. In the winter, Lake Winnebago, Chequamegon Bay, and numerous smaller inland lakes offer opportunities for ice fishing, with most anglers preferring jigging techniques to catch walleye and perch.