With more than 15,000 lakes, over 1,000 miles of Great Lakes shoreline, and around 150 different species of fish, Wisconsin is probably the closest you’ll get to a freshwater angling paradise. Rivers, lakes, wetlands, and backwaters – you name it, the Badger State has it! From monster Muskies to tasty Trouts, there’s something for every type of angler in Wisconsin.
With so many great fishing spots in Wisconsin, it might be hard for you to decide where to start exploring. Having that in mind, we decided to put together this guide that will show you some of the best fishing grounds the Badger State has to offer. Without any further ado, let’s find out all about them!
Located on Lake Michigan, Milwaukee is a fishing hotspot. While there are many great fishing spots all around the lake, not many of them can brag about holding a majority of state records. Only one city can – yes, we’re talking about Milwaukee.
The city is surrounded by water, with many interconnecting rivers, streams, and lagoons, making it a great fishing spot. No matter what time of the year you’re visiting, something’s always biting.
With spring comes the Lake and Brown Trout season, followed by Rainbow Trout and Coho Salmon later in May. When the temperatures climb during summer, Chinook Salmon fishing is on fire too. For those who want to target all of the above-mentioned species, time your visit around September when all of them gather in the waters around town before they head on their journey up the rivers.
As the cold slowly creeps in and the lake gets a nice ice coat, you can still go out and target Brown Trout, which is the most popular catch during the cold months. As winter slowly comes to an end, Brownies join forces with strong Steelheads. Try to reel one of them in, and you’ll also get a free acrobatic show!
The city of Green Bay is located at the end of its synonymous bay, and it’s a great starting point for fishing trips in the inner waters of the bay. The bay is much shallower than the main body of Lake Michigan, and also more fertile. There are plenty of species you can go after here, such as Walleye, Yellow and White Perch, Freshwater Drum, Carp, Northern Pike, and Channel Catfish.
Early summer is the perfect time to catch Walleye, and you’ll find them swimming all around the bay. If you head a bit north from the mouth of Fox River, you’ll come across the Menominee and Peshtigo Rivers. Here, you’ll find premier Trout, Salmon, and Smallmouth waters. The town of Marinette is home to amazing Brown Trout action in July, and fishing derbies are held around town. Anglers have reported catches of over 20 pounds!
Once the fall takes over, Muskies and Pike will conquer the waters. Next to them, you’ll still be able to fish for Smallmouth Bass and Walleye. As soon as the waters start to cool down, Yellow Perch will begin to appear in the lower parts of the bay where the water is cold enough. Perch season closes mid-March and, after that, you can continue to target Whitefish and Walleye. No matter what time of year you visit, fishing in Green Bay is always great.
The city of La Crosse is located on the mighty Mississippi River. However, there’s something unique about the waters around the town, which makes it a special fishing ground. Near La Crosse, the Mississippi River spreads beyond its main channel and creates many small islands, deep pools, and smaller channels. These waterways are home to more fish species than any other temperate-climate river in the world.
When it comes to popular catches, Walleye is the name of the game here! When spring kicks in, anglers from all around the La Crosse County and further flock to the river in search of Walleye. As soon as the ice on the river melts, these fish are swimming all around, and many say that catching one here is truly spectacular.
As early summer comes along, fishing for Panfish takes over, especially in the flats and backwaters of the Black River. After them, Northern Pike start to roam the waters.
When the temperature goes up during summer, fishing for all of the above species can be good. However, anglers tend to focus their attention on Largemouth and Smallmouth Bass. During this time, you can also find Flathead and Channel Catfish in the waters around La Crosse.
Fall brings back the Walleye action, as they tend to have more predictable and steady movement across the river system. When the ice starts to take over, ice fishers come out in search of Panfish, Walleye, Yellow Perch, and Northern Pike hiding below the white cover.
Lake Winnebago is the largest inland lake in Wisconsin. The lake holds a variety of different species, and the most popular targets are Walleye and Bass. The lake holds a special place in the hearts of local anglers who won’t let anything stop them from fishing here, not even the thick ice and cold temperatures.
Similar to the other places on our list, Lake Winnebago is also the place to come for some Walleye action. You can fish for them at any time of the year, but late spring and early summer is the best time to target them.
Besides Walleye, you’ll also come across Muskies, Pike, Trout, and Perch at this time of year. As temperatures rise, Largemouth and Smallmouth Bass will start to appear. When the weather is at its warmest, you’ll have the best chances of reeling some of them in. With the slow temperature drop, Lake Trout and Brown Trout will take over the scene, and fishing for them will peak during August and September.
When fall comes along, so do Steelhead and Yellow Perch, but you can also catch them when the temperatures drop even further. With the winter comes ice, and ice anglers come to the lake to look for Walleye, Perch, and Lake Sturgeon.
If you’d like to hire a local guide, it’s useful to know that most of them depart from the town Oshkosh. Get your gear ready, because it’s Lake Winnebago time!
Northern Wisconsin is what paradise looks like for adventurers. The entire area is dotted with numerous lakes, forests, and beautiful wilderness. In the middle of the area lies the city of Eagle River, nestled in the Eagle River Chain, which is a system of nine lakes that spans over 3,600 acres.
In the past few years, the system has been recognized as one of Wisconsin’s most productive Muskellunge fisheries. If Muskies are the name of your game, you should visit the area anytime between early summer and mid-fall. Besides Muskies, you might also come across lots of Largemouth and Smallmouth Bass during the warmer months.
If you’re visiting during the peak summer season, keep in mind that the area is a popular tourist spot. During July and August, the lake is crowded with boats, which makes the fish go deep and hide. However, that doesn’t mean you can’t fish! Just choose to start fishing early in the morning, and you’ll have a successful fishing trip.
Even though fishing is on fire during the summer and fall, it doesn’t mean you won’t have some reel fun if you visit during the spring. Walleye and Northern Pike start to show up all over the chain as early as April.
You’ve probably picked this one up by now, but we’ll mention it anyway – Wisconsinites have a special place in their heart for ice fishing, and anglers from the Eagle River are no different. Visit during the coldest months of the year, and fishing guides will roam the ice with you in search of Walleye and Perch!
Wisconsin Fishing License
Everyone over the age of 16 who wants to fish in Wisconsin needs a fishing license. This applies to both state residents and visiting anglers but, depending on your residency, you’ll need to apply for a different type of fishing license.
The freshwater fishing license is valid across the state, but if you want to catch Salmon in the Great Lakes, or Sturgeon and Trout anywhere in the state, you’ll need to purchase an additional stamp.
Don’t worry, the entire process of getting a fishing license and a stamp is very easy. Check out our detailed guide for more information.
Wisconsin Fishing Spots – Just the Tip of the Iceberg
Whether you’re looking for Walleye, Sturgeon, or Muskies in the waters of Wisconsin, there are many amazing fishing spots all around the state. With so many options available, you can tailor your trip to your preferences and enjoy some of the wonders the Badger State has to offer. Just grab your rod or find a guide near you and get out there!
Now back to you! Have you ever fished in Wisconsin before? What are your favorite Wisconsin fishing spots? Let us know in the comments below!