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Wisconsin fishing report 2021

Fishing Wisconsin

Fishing Report Cover
2021 Fishing Report

There was a lot of uncertainty in the world last year, but one thing was very clear. People headed outside to escape some of the madness of 2020. Fishing participation increased considerably in Wisconsin. The 2021 fishing season is underway.  Getting back outdoors can be beneficial both mentally and physically if done safely. Fishing can be a great social distancing activity. It's time to review the Wisconsin Fishing Report 2021 - a detailed newspaper of fishing in Wisconsin waters and fishing forecasts for the coming year. Use the information to plan your next fishing trip. The water is open to everyone. 

The Wisconsin Fishing Report 2021 is available for download here in digital format and will be available in newsprint form at your local DNR service center and select stores.

Download the entire Wisconsin fishing report 2021 [PDF]

On the inside

  • Want to catch more panfish? 
  • Dear Wisconsin angler 
  • Fantastic fisheries projects 
  • What's in your tacklebox 

Species fishing forecasts

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WALLEYE

ASHLAND COUNTY

East Fork Chippewa River - There are approximately 50-plus miles of the East Fork Chippewa River going east to west across the lower half of Ashland County.  The river varies in size and depth providing fishing opportunities from wading, kayaking to all other types of watercraft.   There are several access points throughout Ashland County most of them being carry in access only.  Lots of trees and brush are overhanging and crossing the river make navigation difficult at times.  In 2019 electrofishing surveys were conducted on various sections of the river throughout Ashland County.  Survey results suggest that anglers can expect low to moderate density of Smallmouth Bass, Northern Pike and moderate densities of Walleye.  Of those three species, Walleye were found throughout the entire system with the best size structure and relative abundance.  Walleye were captured up to 20-plus inches, with a fair number of them being in the harvestable range.  The Walleye regulation follows the Ceded Territory bag limit of three walleye, ranging from 15” – 20” may be kept, except one fish may be over 24”.  

BARRON COUNTY

Red Cedar Lake - 1,897 acres.  Red Cedar Lake is consistently one of the best walleye lakes in Barron County and is maintained through good natural reproduction.  During the last walleye population estimate survey, we found 4.2 adults/acre with the majority ranging from 14-18 inches.  The Red Cedar Lake walleye fishery is managed with a 15-in minimum length limit, but walleye 20-24 inches may not be harvested, and only 1 walleye longer than 24 inches may be harvested, 3 fish daily bag limit.  There are three public boat landings on Red Cedar Lake.  The boat landing at Waldo Carlson Park and Campground is the best option for handling larger boats.  Balsam Lake and Hemlock Lake are connected to Red Cedar Lake and a navigable channel allows for boat passage through all the lakes.

CALUMET, FOND DU LAC, GREEN LAKE, OUTAGAMIE, SHAWANO, WAUSHARA, WAUPACA, and WINNEBAGO COUNTIES

The Winnebago System includes the four lakes (Lakes Winnebago, Butte des Morts, Winneconne, and Poygan) along with all their tributaries from their mouths upstream to the first dam including the upper Fox and Wolf Rivers. 165,246 acres for the lakes and roughly 142 river miles. The Winnebago System is home to a healthy self-sustaining walleye population that offers some of the best walleye fishing opportunities in the Midwest.  The annual Lake Winnebago trawling survey revealed a measurable walleye hatch for 2020 with a catch rate of 3.6 young of year (YOY)/trawl, just below the long-term average of 4.5/trawl.  Measurable walleye year classes were also produced in 2017 (4.1/trawl), 2018 (5.1/trawl), and 2019 (5.9/trawl).  Although these aren’t considered strong year classes they should help contribute to the adult population.  The strong 2008, 2011, 2013, and 2016 year classes continue to dominate the adult walleye population.  For 2021, anglers will likely find themselves hooking into walleyes from the 2016 year class ranging from 14-18 inches.  The trawling survey also revealed a weak year class of gizzard shad (0.3/YOY trawl).  Gizzard shad can often drive walleye fishing success on the system and this year’s weak hatch could set up for a productive 2021 walleye bite on the system.  The system is open year round for walleye and sauger.  There is a combined daily bag limit of 3 fish, of which only 1 may be a sauger.  There is no minimum length limit for either species. There are numerous access points around the Winnebago system.  Consult a map of the system to see what access is near where you want to launch, or go to the DNR’s Boat and Shore Fishing Access website to search for access information (http://dnr.wi.gov/topic/lan/boataccess). DNR fisheries staff has tagged walleye on the Winnebago System since 1993.  The program relies on anglers to report any tagged fish they catch by mailing them to the Oshkosh DNR office (625 East County Road Y, Oshkosh WI 54901) or emailing them to dnrwinnebagosystemtagreturns@wisconsin.gov.  Anglers are encouraged to check their walleye catch for tags and report them properly.  Anglers that return tags can expect a mailed certificate that provides information about the tagged fish they caught. -Adam Nickel, Fisheries biologist, Oshkosh

CRAWFORD, GRANT AND VERNON COUNTIES 

Mississippi River Pools 9, 10, 11 and Upper 12 - 74,850 acres and 97 miles of open water . In mid-October 2020, a DNR electrofishing crew collected 109 walleye and 144 sauger by electrofishing at night in the near-shore areas around wing dams in Pool 9.  In our sample, adult walleyes were between 10-26 inches with the largest measuring 26.7 inches and catch-per-unit-effort (CPUE) was approximately 28 adult walleye per mile.   Adult sauger were between 9-15 inches with the largest measuring 15.2 inches and CPUE was 40 adult sauger per mile. Our fall young-of-year (YOY) survey results in Pool 10 showed excellent reproduction during the spring of 2020 with a catch rate of 65 YOY walleye per mile and 110 YOY sauger per mile.   YOY walleye and sauger reproduction in 2020 was very good which will help maintain the fishery for years to come. Current regulation in Pools 9-12: The Mississippi River is open year-round for walleye and sauger.  New regulations were promulgated for walleye with a minimum length limit of 15 inches for walleye, walleye between 20-27 inches must be released, and 1 walleye over 27 inches is allowed.  The bag limit is 6 fish combined walleye and sauger and there is no minimum length limit on sauger.   Access information: There are many boat and shore fishing access locations along the Mississippi River. The waters of Pool 9 are part of the Upper Mississippi River Wildlife and Fish Refuge.   The refuge is located in four states: Minnesota, Wisconsin, Iowa and Illinois along the Mississippi River and was established in 1924 as a refuge for fish, wildlife and plants.   The refuge encompasses one of the largest blocks of floodplain habitat in the lower 48 states and covers just over 240,000 acres which extends 261 river miles from the Chippewa River in Wisconsin to near Rock Island, Illinois.

DANE COUNTY 

Madison Chain of Lakes (Mendota, Monona, Waubesa, Kegonsa) – Wisconsin Walleye Initiative stocking began in 2014 and each lake has responded to increased stocking rates and larger fish. Each lake is surveyed regularly and share some general characteristics of the walleye fishery: the population is around 2 fish per acre, typical of a high angling pressure stocked lake, some natural reproduction is occurring, but not enough to sustain the fishery on its own, and anglers are readily harvesting legal fish. Monona isn’t stocked with walleye but gets migration of walleye from other stocked lakes both upstream and downstream. Wingra doesn’t have a walleye population. Landing a fish for the frying pan isn’t a guarantee but anglers have found success at the steep rocky breaks along the thermocline or weedy edges. The Madison Chain has several public boat launches and many miles of public shore fishing opportunities. Mendota has an 18” minimum, 1 daily bag limit, all other lakes have a 15”, 5 daily bag limit. - Dan Oele, Fisheries biologist,  Madison

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FOREST COUNTY

Stevens and Range Line Lakes. Stevens (297 acres), Range Line (83 acres). Population information: These two waters are some of the best stocked walleye waters in Forest County. The last survey conducted on these lakes estimated a walleye population of 1.9 adults/acre in Stevens Lake, and 2.9 adults/acre in Range Line Lake. Stocked waters typically give an angler a good chance at larger walleye, because the density of walleye is generally lower than those naturally reproducing populations. Stevens is a great example of a place that gives you a good chance at a large walleye. During the last survey of Stevens 95.4% of the walleye captured were over the legal length of 15 inches, with a whopping 54.4% being over 20 inches. While walleye size structure in Range Line was not as good as Stevens Lake, it is still a great place to catch quality walleye with 73.7% of the walleye captured being over 15 inches.  Current Regulation: 15-inch minimum length limit, 20-24 inch protective slot, 3 fish bag (1 > 24”)  Access Information: There are two dirt launches on Range Line Lake with limited parking. Stevens Lake has a USFS landing. Interesting Points: Both of these lakes are quite shallow. Range Line Lake does have some natural reproduction of walleye. - Greg Matzke, Fisheries biologist -Florence

JACKSON, MONROE, LA CROSSE, AND TREMPEALEAU COUNTIES  

Lower Black River (below the Black River Falls dam) Catch rates are based on 2020 electrofishing results (expressed as number of fish captured per mile of lake shoreline or river surveyed). Black River, Lower: Total catch rate was 6.6/mile, catch rate of 15”+ fish was 1.4/mile, catch rate of 25”+ was 0.2/mile, and maximum size captured was 28”.  In 2019, total catch rate was 7.9/mile, catch rate of 15”+ size fish was 1.1/mile, and maximum size captured was 24”. Regulation: Black River upstream of CTH OO (T26NR2W Sections 20 and 21 – Clark County); 15” minimum length, 20” – 24” no harvest slot, daily bag limit of 3 fish, only 1 can be over 24” (Ceded Territory standard walleye regulation).  For the Black River downstream of CTH OO, Clark County, and Arbutus Lake; 15” minimum length, daily bag limit of 5 fish.  Access Information: Upper Black River – Halls Creek Canoe Landing and Black River State Forest unimproved landings off Palm and Brickyard Roads (Jackson County), and DNR boat landing off Opelt Avenue (Clark County).  Lower Black River – 3rd Street Canoe Landing (City of Black River Falls), Perry Creek Landing, Mason’s Landing, Irving Township Canoe Landing, Highway 108 Landing near Melrose, WI, North Bend Landing off CTH VV, and Highway 35 landing in Van Loon Bottoms. The lower Black River (downstream of the Black River Falls dam) has a continuous (year-round) fishing season for walleyes.

JEFFERSON COUNTY

Lake Koshkonong/Rock River - 10,000 lake acres and 27+ river miles. 2020 fall electrofishing surveys yielded an average catch rate of 16.3 young-of-the-year (YOY) walleye/mile in the Rock-Koshkonong system. The five year average (2016-2020) is 27.5 YOY walleye/mile.  14.0 miles of Lake Koshkonong and 10 miles of the Rock River were sampled.   Current regulation: There is a year-round open season on the Rock River and Lake Koshkonong for all gamefish except muskellunge.  A new 18-inch minimum length and 3 fish daily bag limit on walleye and sauger was applied to the system in April 2020. Access: Royce Dallman County Park, Groeler Road, Klement Park, City of Jefferson below Jefferson Dam, City of Fort Atkinson (shorefishing in town and city launch off Mechanic St.), Rock River Road (Town of Koshkonong - shorefishing). Because of COVID-19 restrictions, no Department walleye stocking occurred in 2020.  Of the total walleye sampled in 2020 fall electrofishing, 11.2% (120/1068) were above the new 18-inch minimum length limit regulation.

OCONTO COUNTY

Archibald Lake - 393 acres - Population information: In 2019, adult walleye density was 4.1 adults per acre.  This was a significant improvement over what was observed in 2011 (1.9 adults/acre).  Walleye ranged from 7.5 to 24.4 inches and averaged 15.7 inches.  Compared to other lakes in the area, walleye abundance was high.  Large fingerling walleye stocking began in 2014 at the rate of 15/acre.  These fish are now starting to enter the fishery.Current Regulation: 18-inch minimum length / 3 fish per day  Access information: Boat landing on west side of the lake. Of interest: East side of lake relatively undeveloped because the shoreline is owned by the U.S. Forest Service: Fish sticks – 100 trees were placed at 46 locations in 2009; Walleye spawning reefs were constructed in 2008 (600’) , 2017 (600’) and 2018 (2 reefs – 300’ each). Water levels have increased approximately 3 to 4 feet since 2011.

ONEIDA COUNTY

Bearskin Lake – 400 acres, 5.6 miles of shoreline, 26 feet maximum depth. Recent survey results documented a healthy and abundant Walleye population with a density of just under 10 adults per acre. This is a high-density action fishery sustained by natural reproduction. The Walleye regulation allows Walleye of any length to be kept but only one fish can be over 14 inches with a daily bag limit of 3. A concrete public boat launch with good access and ample parking is located off Lakewood Road. Zach Woiak, Fisheries biologist, Rhinelander

PORTAGE, WOOD, ADAMS AND JUNEAU COUNTIES

Wisconsin River (Stevens Point Flowage; Petenwell Lake)  - 2489 acres; 23,178 acres. Since 2015, we have been monitoring walleye spawning success for multiple flowages, including the Stevens Point Flowage and Petenwell Lake, of the Wisconsin River using fall electrofishing surveys at established transects.  We calculate the relative abundance (catch per mile) of walleyes born that spring (Age-0) and those born the previous spring (Age-1+, they’re about 1 ½ years old). We can track overtime the variability in spawning success and track a year class of walleye for two years. We see consistent walleye spawning success in the Stevens Point Flowage, where relative abundance of Age-0 walleye ranges from 35-46 per mile.  2018 was a strong year class with 111 per mile.  This consistent recruitment is seen in our consistent relative abundance of Age-1+ walleye, 17-30 per mile.  We saw the strong 2018 year class in 2019 (Age-1+) with 38 per mile.  We see more variability in spawning success on Petenwell Lake, Age-0 relative abundance in 2015, 2016, 2018, and 2019 ranged from 83-111 per mile, while a couple poor year classes were apparent in 2017 and 2020 (20 and 29 per mile).  Age-1+ relative abundance has been consistent with 26-31 per mile. The poor year class of 2017 was observed in the 2018 survey where Age-1+ relative abundance was 7 per mile.  While the relative abundance of the 2018 year class was not exceptionally high, like we observed in the Stevens Point Flowage, the survival of those fish to Age-1+ was very good, 65 per mile.    In the fall of 2020, we used fyke nets to do a limited survey in the Stevens Point Flowage and Petenwell Lake, our objective was two fold 1) collect fish for contaminant analysis and 2) explore the use of this sampling, as surveys in the spring are a challenge if mother nature doesn’t cooperate.  Our catch for walleye was decent for how little effort was put into the surveys, so we plan to continue to investigate the use of this sampling for monitoring walleyes on large flowages.  For Stevens Point flowage, 99 walleyes were caught, and they ranged from 8.6-27.8”.  32% of walleyes were less than 15”, 30% were 15-19.9” and 37% were 20-28”. For Petenwell Lake, 182 walleyes were caught, and they ranged in length from 7.4-27.4”.  66% of walleyes caught were less than 15”, 26% were 15-19.9” and 8% were 20-28”.  Anglers should notice the poor 2017 year class in 2021, as males enter the fishery (15”) at age-5 and are fully vulnerable at age-6.  Anglers will also notice the 2018 strong year class as these fish will be 12.0-14.5”. There are ample public boat launch and shore fishing access opportunities for both flowages.  Popular boat launches for the Stevens Point Flowage includes: Old Hwy 10/ Hwy 66 launch, Buckholt Park, and the Hwy 10 launch.  Popular boat launches for Petenwell Lake include Jim Freeman Memorial Launch (aka Nekoosa City Launch), Plank Hill boat launch, and Chester Creek.  Checkout the Department’s Boat and Shore Fishing Access website for more information:  https://dnr.wisconsin.gov/topic/lands/boataccess.html

PRICE COUNTY

Unfortunately, the pandemic postponed our planned spring 2020 netting and electrofishing surveys that provide anglers useful information on the size and abundance of sport fish populations.  But with several precautions in place to keep staff healthy, electrofishing crews from DNR, U.S. Forest Service, and Great Lakes Indian Fish & Wildlife Commission (GLIFWC) completed fall surveys to evaluate recruitment in 14 of our important walleye populations.  “Recruitment” refers to the rate at which a fish population adds new recruits to replace the adults that die to harvest and natural causes.  We use our catch rates of fingerlings per mile of shoreline in fall electrofishing surveys as our standard measure of walleye recruitment for comparisons among lakes and years.  Highlights from last fall include the walleye year class that hatched in Lake of the Pines in spring 2020, grew over summer, and were captured at a rate of 10 fingerlings/mile.  The 2020 walleye year class produced in Lake of the Pines was the strongest among 8 surveys there since 1995—a promising sign that walleye stocked biennially since 2014 at 15 large fingerlings/acre are maturing and reproducing.  GLIFWC’s crew also documented the 2020 walleye year class in nearby Connors Lake as one of the highest produced there since 2010. Overall, the “big-picture” forecast for walleye is not as favorable.  The long-term survey history reveals declining patterns in natural walleye recruitment in many waters where walleye populations once consistently produced strong year classes. The diminishing trend is apparent even in our best-producing and our most-studied walleye populations, prompting DNR to consider a change to fishing regulations.   Specifically, we would rescind the special harvest regulation on walleye and replace it with the standard walleye harvest regulation that has been in effect across Wisconsin’s Ceded Territory since 2015.  Currently, three walleye of any length may be kept, but only one fish may be over 14”.  Under the proposed regulation walleye 15–20” may be kept with one over 24” in a daily bag limit of 3 in total. The proposed change is necessary because the current harvest regulation is no longer suitable for these walleye populations amid the declining trends in natural recruitment that they have exhibited in the last 15 – 20 years.  The no minimum, 1 over 14” regulation was once appropriate to offer liberal harvest opportunity for small- and intermediate-size walleye in the 1990s and early 2000s when recruitment was strong or excessive.  Then, anglers could focus on keeping the abundant, slow-growing fish while the 1 over 14” component protected some that might live long enough to reach quality-size ≥ 15” and preferred-size ≥ 20”.  Now however, fishing regulations that allow anglers to keep walleye of any size are not the proper fit for populations with dwindling recruitment.  Young walleye in low to moderate abundance should not be immediately available for harvest in ailing or recovering populations. The proposed regulation would apply to the Flambeau River and its eight impoundments between Turtle-Flambeau Dam and Thornapple Dam, Solberg Lake, the entire Elk River, including the Phillips Chain of Lakes, Soo Lake, and Grassy Lake, the Pike Lake Chain of Lakes, and the entire South Fork Flambeau River.  The 22 lakes, impoundments and river segments affected by this proposal lie in six counties.  Our proposal would simplify fishing rules by removing special regulations on walleye angling harvest from nearly all waters in Price and Rusk counties. Within 7-8 years after applying the standard walleye harvest regulation for the Ceded Territory, we seek to increase adult walleye population density toward the objective ranges outlined in the fishery management plans that stakeholders helped us develop for these waters.  The proposed regulation should promote our goals by protecting young walleye until they mature and allowing some adults to grow larger.  However, the proposed change would also limit anglers’ harvest opportunity beyond what they have been accustomed to when these waters had no minimum length limits.  That’s precisely our intent.  The purpose of the proposed rule change is to take preemptive action to protect the young walleyes that most of these populations are still producing, but at much lower rates than they historically did, before their natural recruitment fades too far to sustain a viable fishery.  If walleye recruitment rebounds to satisfactory measures and adult population density returns within our objective ranges for these waters, someday we may be able to reinstate a liberalized harvest regulation to again direct angling harvest toward small fish in high abundance. The rule-change proposal will appear in the questionnaire published for the spring hearings and county meetings that will be hosted by DNR and the Wisconsin Conservation Congress on April 12, 2021. –Jeff Scheirer, Fishery biologist, Park Falls

SAUK AND COLUMBIA COUNTIES  

Lower Wisconsin River - 92.3 miles.Population Information: The Lower Wisconsin River supports a healthy walleye fishery from the Prairie du Sac Dam to the Mississippi River. Anglers can expect to see many walleye in the 14 to 18-inch range with some over 23 inches present in the population. Electrofishing surveys during October and November of 2020 sampled a fair adult population with an average size of 14.7 inches. Nine percent of the adults were 18 inches or greater. Current regulation: 18-inch minimum length limit with a daily bag limit of 3. Access information: Public boat launch and accessible bank fishing opportunities are located thru out the Lower Wisconsin River way. There is a public boat launch close to the dam at Veterans Memorial Park. A daily or annual fee is required to use the launch at this park. Boaters should use caution near the dam as many rock bars, wing dams,  and shallow sand breaks are present in the river channel.  
Interesting Points: In the fall of 2020 the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources marked 680 walleye with plastic floy tags. These tags will be located near the dorsal fin of the fish and have a phone number on one side and 4 digit number unique to that fish on the other side.  If a tagged fish is caught, record the date, location, total length, the 4 digit tag number, and if the fish was kept or released. If the fish is to be released, please leave the tag in the fish. Information can be texted to the phone number or anglers may leave a voice mail. Bradd Sims, Fisheries biologist – Dodgeville

VILAS COUNTY

Big Arbor Vitae Lake - 1,090 acres. Big Arbor Vitae Lake supports a good walleye population that provides excellent angling opportunities. In 2017, a walleye population estimate survey was conducted by DNR. Based on that survey, Big Arbor Vitae was estimated to contain 4,775 adult walleye or 4.4 per acre. The majority of walleye captured were over 15 inches with the largest measuring 27.7 inches.   Current regulation: 3 bag; no minimum length limit, but only one fish over 14”  Access information: There are two landings located along the shores of Big Arbor Vitae. One landing is located on the north shore just off Buckhorn Rd and the other on the south shore off Hwy 70.  The walleye population in Big Arbor Vitae Lake is supported by natural reproduction.  - Eric Wegleitner, Fisheries Biologist – Vilas County

WAUKESHA COUNTY

Lac LaBelle - 1154 surface acres. Species population information:  Average length – 16 inches.  Population estimate – 3.5 adults per acre.   Current regulation: 28 inch minimum length, daily bag limit of 1. Access information: Shore fishing opportunities near the Oconomowoc River inlet can provide fast action.   The public boat launch is located on south end of Lac LaBelle near the public beach area on Wisconsin Avenue. A healthy adult walleye population continues to support natural reproduction of walleye in Lac LaBelle, as revealed by continued fall electrofishing surveys.  Walleyes on Lac LaBelle provide excellent angler opportunities for those looking to catch and release good numbers of fish.

Nemahbin Lakes - 514 surface acres. Species population information:  Average length – 17 inches.  Population estimate – 2.2 adults per acre.   Current regulation: 18-inch minimum length, daily bag limit of 3. Access information: The public boat launch is located in between Upper and Lower Nemahbin Lakes off of Delafield Road. Fall electrofishing surveys have revealed consistent walleye recruitment and growth. 
 


MUSKELLUNGE

ASHLAND COUNTY

Day Lake Flowage - This 625-acre, stained-water impoundment on the Chippewa River within the Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest in western Ashland County presents anglers with a couple unique opportunities.  Day Lake is teaming with muskies giving anglers a realistic chance of catching a fish each time out.  However, while anglers can experience some fast-action, the average size musky will be around 30”.  You also could harvest a smaller-sized musky, if you so desire, because of a 28-inch minimum length limit.  In addition to a high abundance of Muskies, the most recent 2020 electrofishing survey showed good numbers of Black Crappie, Bluegill and Largemouth Bass. With the variety of species Day Lake has to offer this gives fishing opportunities for all.  There is a boat launch located just off Highway M just west of Clam Lake, along with a USFS campground located right on the flowage.

BARRON COUNTY 

Red Cedar River - The Red Cedar River from CTH W to the Barron-Dunn County line (~19.5 river miles) has a respectable muskellunge fishery that is often overlooked by anglers.  Based on recent electrofishing surveys, the Red Cedar River has a fair number of muskellunge over 40 inches, with some fish surpassing 45 inches. The muskellunge population is managed with the statewide 40-inch minimum length limit and one fish daily bag limit.  Barron County has several well-marked and maintained river accesses.  These would include the accesses at County Highways W, OO, D, I, and AI.  Anglers will likely have the best luck by floating a canoe, kayak, or small boat and targeting any deeper pool habitats.  The Red Cedar River is stocked with muskellunge at a low level, gets muskellunge from upstream sources, and a low level of natural reproduction also occurs.  Musky do well in the Red Cedar River with the abundant sucker and redhorse populations.  

CALUMET, FOND DU LAC, GREEN LAKE, OUTAGAMIE, SHAWANO, WAUSHARA, WAUPACA, and WINNEBAGO COUNTIES

The Winnebago System includes the four lakes (Lakes Winnebago, Butte des Morts, Winneconne, and Poygan) along with all their tributaries from their mouths upstream to the first dam including the upper Fox and Wolf Rivers. 165,246 acres for the lakes and roughly 142 river miles. Great Lakes spotted strain muskellunge were stocked throughout the Winnebago System during the years 2002-2007.  During this time span, 613,248 fish were stocked (589,643 fry; 1,162 small fingerlings; 22,397 large fingerlings; 40 yearlings; and 6 adults).  As a result, the system currently supports a low density muskellunge population that provides trophy (>50 inches) opportunities for anglers.  To help bolster the population, 2,943 yearling Great Lakes spotted muskellunge have been stocked in the Upriver Lakes since 2015.  This included 946 fish with an average length of 16.2 inches that were stocked near Omro on the upper Fox River in 2020.  These stockings should provide a boost to the population and provide additional angling opportunities. All fish stocked received right ventral fin clips to indicate that the fish was stocked. Anglers who catch a muskellunge on the Winnebago System can help with management efforts by checking their fish for fin clips and reporting it to the Oshkosh DNR office.  All fish were also tagged with Passive Integrated Transponder (PIT) tags, which are small radio transponders that contain a specific identification code for each fish.  This will allow DNR staff to assess stocking location and growth of PIT tagged muskellunge that are captured during future surveys. Current Regulations: The 2021 open season for muskellunge is May 1, 2021 – December 31, 2021 with a daily bag limit of 1 fish and a minimum length limit of 50”.   Access Information: There are numerous access points around the Winnebago system. Consult a system map or the DNR’s Boat Access Website to search for launch information near where you want to fish (http://dnr.wi.gov/topic/lands/boataccess). With the help of local fishing and conservation clubs 46 acoustic tags were purchased and surgically implanted in yearling muskellunge in 2016 and 2017.    There are currently 29 acoustic receivers located throughout the Winnebago System that are programmed to pick up the signal from acoustic tagged fish that swim by the receiver.  Because each tag has a unique signal, individual fish can be tracked as they move by receivers. Conducting this acoustic tag study has allowed for muskellunge movement and stocking strategies to be evaluated. The battery life of these tags is 5 years and has already provided valuable information. Fisheries staff will continue to collect information during the final 2021 and 2022 study years. -Adam Nickel, Fisheries biologist, Oshkosh

CHIPPEWA COUNTY 

Chippewa River - The reservoirs on the lower Chippewa River are well known for their musky populations and trophy potential, but the riverine portions do not get the credit they deserve for producing big musky.  In particular, the 10 miles stretch from the NSP Dam in Chippewa Falls to the Eau Claire County line consistently produces nice musky.  The forage base in this portion of river is excellent with numerous species of redhorse sucker readily abundant, so it is no surprise that musky stocking efforts have paid off.  This stretch of river does not see a lot of pressure and is generally shallow, so a fishing trip is best done as a float trip in a canoe, kayak, small aluminum boat or drift boat.  Check the river level prior to embarking to ensure it is at a safe level.  There is a boat landing in Chippewa Falls to put in and a few to choose from closer to Eau Claire to take out.  The daily bag limit is one fish and it must be at least 40”. - Joseph Gerbyshak, Fisheries biologist, Eau Claire

DANE COUNTY 

Lake Wingra - This 336-acre lake is in the heart of Madison, Dane County and offers a unique urban fishing experience. 2018 and 2019 surveys showed a robust musky fishery, well above average densities with most fish in the 35-40” range, offering anglers a good chance at hooking into a fish on any given day. However, anglers shouldn’t expect a harvest opportunity due to the 50” minimum length limit. In addition to a high abundance of muskies, the 2019 netting and electrofishing survey showed high abundance of bluegill and an improving largemouth bass fishery. A newcomer to the fishery, northern pike are also present. Boat parking is difficult within the city limits, but shore and ice anglers can park near the Zoo and surrounding neighborhoods.

IRON COUNTY 

Lake of the Falls - At 338 acres, Lake of the Falls located upriver of the Turtle Flambeau Flowage is often overlooked as a destination to musky fish.  Relative to its size this waterbody has the potential to produce some big muskies.  In 2015, muskellunge up to 50.5” inches were netted.   Overall, the lake is shallow with stained water and a high density of weeds. There are three inlets entering this body of water providing a wide variety of lake and riverine habitats to try. This lake has relatively high densities of adult muskies with a balanced size structure, which will provide good action and the occasional chance at a wall mounter.  There is a nonpaved public boat landing located on the westside of the lake.  Current regulations allow for a daily bag limit of 1 fish that must be at least 40”.

JACKSON, MONROE, LA CROSSE, AND TREMPEALEAU COUNTIES  

Lower Black River (below the Black River Falls dam), Jackson, Monroe, La Crosse, and Trempealeau Counties.  Catch rates are based on 2020 electrofishing results (expressed as number of fish captured per mile of river surveyed). Black River, lower: Total catch rate was 0.6/mile, catch rate of 40”+ fish was 0.1/mile, and maximum size captured was 42.3”.  In 2019, total catch rate was 0.6/mile, catch rate of 40”+ size fish was 0.15/mile, and maximum size captured was 49”. Regulation: 40” minimum length limit / 1 fish daily bag limit. Access Information: Lower Black River – 3rd Street Canoe Landing (City of Black River Falls), Perry Creek Landing, Mason’s Landing, Irving Township Canoe Landing, Highway 108 Landing near Melrose, WI, North Bend Landing off CTH VV, and Highway 35 landing in Van Loon Bottoms.  Other Information: The 4 mile stretch of the Black River downstream of the Black River Falls Dam consistently yields one of the highest densities of 40”+ muskellunge found in annual surveys. 

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MARATHON COUNTY 

Wisconsin River system in Marathon County including all flowages (Lake DuBay, Mosinee Flowage/Halfmoon Lake, Lake Wausau, and Wausau Dam Lake). Flowages ranging from 300-5000 acres in size along 52 miles of river from the Dubay Dam upstream to the Merrill Dam. Muskellunge angling records from the Muskies, Inc. “Lunge Log” and local leagues have shown strong increases in musky size structure in the Wisconsin River in the last 10 years.  In particular the percentage of 45” or larger musky reported increased from 1% to 15%.   Fyke netting and electrofishing survey data from these systems indicate that maximum length on average is 47.8” and ranges 40.8”–53” among systems.  Similarly, growth data trajectories from tagged musky that have been recaptured have indicated that on average muskellunge ultimate length is 51.7” which ranges from 48.5” to 53.2” depending on the flowage. All this data indicates that this portions of the Wisconsin River provides trophy muskellunge fishery.  And although the relative abundance information is variable, anglers indicate that chances of catching a musky on Wisconsin River is more probable than most low-density trophy populations in lakes. Upstream of the DuBay Dam, the Wisconsin River muskellunge regulation follows the statewide 40” minimum length limit with a daily bag limit of 1. Numerous Landings can be found at each Marathon County flowage in the Wisconsin River.  Popular landings include Oak Island Park Landing on Lake Wausau, Riverside Park Landing in the Mosinee Floage, and Chucks Landing downstream of the Mosinee Dam (tailwater upstream of Lake DuBay). Muskellunge are entirely supported by natural reproduction above Wausau Dam, but the flowages downstream of the dam it is unknown how much natural reproduction occurs.  Currently, the DNR is working with several musky clubs and leagues on a PIT tagging project to better understand musky natural reproduction, stock survival and contribution, and flowage retention and loss of fish via downstream emigration. Club members assist with the tagging of both stocked musky fingerlings and fish surveyed in the field.  Volunteer anglers outfitted with PIT tag scanners participate in weekly leagues and solo fishing efforts to actively monitor for PIT tagged individuals.  So far, this project has been fairly popular among participants and the recapture data gained from both anglers and DNR surveys has provided justification to propose changes to the minimum length limits on the Wisconsin River upstream of the DuBay Dam.

MARINETTE COUNTY

Caldron Falls Reservoir (1,018 acres) and High Falls Reservoir (1,498 acres)  The musky fisheries are maintained through a combination of stocking and natural reproduction.  The density (fish /acre) of musky is higher in Caldron Falls than in High Falls but large fish are present in both flowages. Current regulation: 50-inch minimum length / 1 fish per day Access information: There are 5 boat landings on Caldron Falls and 6 on High Falls.  Shore fishing opportunities are excellent. Musky were stocked in High Falls for the first time in 2017. A 50-inch minimum length limit went into effect in 2018.

ONEIDA COUNTY 

George Lake – 443 acres, 5.5 miles of shoreline, 26 feet maximum depth. George is home to a thriving action musky fishery which is sustained through stocking every other year. Most fish range between the mid-30s to mid-40s. There is a wide variety of structure to fish so between that and the abundance of muskies, anglers keep busy. The regulation is the statewide 1 fish over 40”. A concrete public boat launch with good access and ample parking is located off Nostalgia Lane on the east side of the lake. - Zach Woiak, Fisheries biologist, Rhinelander

SAUK AND COLUMBIA COUNTIES

Lower Wisconsin River - 92.3 miles.The Lower Wisconsin River supports a healthy musky fishery from the Prairie du Sac Dam to Mazomanie. Anglers can expect to see musky 35 to 42 inches with some in the upper 40’s present in the population. Electrofishing surveys during October & November of 2020 sampled 83 individual musky that ranged from 23.2 to 49.9 inches total length. Average size was 35.4 inches. Musky ≥ 40 inches made up 15.6% of the sample while musky ≥ 35 inches made up 57.8% of the sample.  Current regulation: 50-inch minimum length limit with a daily bag limit of 1 upstream of Hwy. 12 to Prairie du Sac dam in Dane, Sauk, and Columbia Counties. Downstream of Hwy. 12 there is a 40-inch minimum length limit with a daily bag limit of 1.  Access information: Public boat launch and accessible bank fishing opportunities are located thru out the Lower Wisconsin River way. There is a public boat launch close to the dam at Veterans Memorial Park. A daily or annual fee is required to use the launch at this park. Boaters should use caution near the dam as many rock bars, wing dams, and shallow sand breaks are present in the river channel.  In the fall of 2020 the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources marked 83 musky with a plastic floy tag. These tags will be located near the dorsal fin of the fish and have a phone number on one side and 4 digit number unique to that fish on the other side.  If a tagged fish is caught, record the date, location, size, the 4 digit tag number, and if the fish was kept or released. If the fish is to be released, please leave the tag in the fish. Information can be texted to the phone number or anglers may leave a voice mail.  - Bradd Sims, Fisheries biologist – Dodgeville

VILAS COUNTY 

North and South Twin lakes - Lake size:  3,430 acres. North and South Twin lakes support a low density, trophy muskellunge population that provides excellent angling opportunity for more experienced and patient musky anglers. Fyke net surveys were conducted on the Twin Chain in 2017 and 2018 to estimate muskellunge abundance. The population estimate for the two lakes was 168 adult muskellunge (0.05 per acre). During the 2017-18 surveys 36% of the muskellunge encountered were 40” or larger with the largest being 48.6”. Although no fish over 50” were captured during these surveys, there are reports of musky greater than 50” being caught out there relatively regularly.   Current Regulation: 1 bag; 50” minimum length. Access information: There are multiple boat access sites located on North and South Twin lakes. North Twin has landings located on the northwest shore (off Lakota Rd.) and southeast shore (off Hwy 17). There is also a boat landing located on the north shore of South Twin off Twin Lake Rd.   One of the largest muskellunge ever caught in Vilas County was caught on North Twin Lake in September 1954 by Myrl “Ozark” McFaul. The fish measured 57.5”, weighed 53lbs., 12oz. and sat atop the leaderboard of that year’s Vilas County Musky Marathon contest.  - Eric Wegleitner, Fisheries biologist – Vilas County

WAUKESHA COUNTY

Pewaukee Lake - 2437 surface acres. Species population information:  Average length – 36 inches, population estimate – 0.5 adults per acre.   Pewaukee lake is the largest muskellunge lake in Waukesha County and has experienced recent increases in northern pike and walleye abundance, improved panfish size structure, trophy smallmouth bass and trophy muskellunge potential making Pewaukee an exciting angling destination for all anglers.  Current regulation: 40-inch minimum length, daily bag limit of 1. Access information: There are two boat launches found on Pewaukee Lake; the Nagawaukee County park boat launch on the west side and Smokey’s Muskie Shop on the east side.  Shore fishing can also be found at Nagawaukee County Park and the public fishing pier in downtown Pewaukee.

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LARGEMOUTH  BASS

BUFFALO COUNTY

Mississippi River – Pool 6. Population information: The 2020 fall electrofishing survey showed good numbers above and below the 14-inch length limit.  Overall, 100 adult and juvenile largemouth bass were captured per hour of electrofishing.  Forty six percent of surveyed largemouth bass were greater than 12 inches, while nearly one in three largemouth were greater than the 14-inch length limit.  Surveyed fish topped out just over 18 inches. Current regulation: 14-inch minimum length; 5 in total with smallmouth bass. Access information: Check DNR website for access locations. The population of largemouth bass has been trending upward for many years.  Our 2020 survey showed another good year for survival of young largemouth bass and signals good fishing into the foreseeable future.

CRAWFORD COUNTY

Mississippi River Pool 10 - 10,135 acres and 34 miles of open water . The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources surveyed backwater lakes, sloughs, and side channels in the fall of 2020 near Prairie du Chien, WI to determine the health of the game fishery.  Largemouth bass were abundant in this survey with catch-per unit effort at 39 fish per hour and size ranged from 12 to 15 inches. The average size for largemouth bass was 15.5 inches. Larger bass in the 4 to 5-pound range are not uncommon and each year a handful of 6-pound-plus fish are caught by tournament anglers.  Current regulation: Continuous Open Season, 14” minimum length with a 5-fish daily bag limit. Access information: There are many boat and shore fishing access locations along the Mississippi River. Check out the following websites for more details.
 http://dnr.wi.gov/topic/lands/boataccess/. https://www.fws.gov/uploadedFiles/Upper_Pool_10.pdf. https://www.fws.gov/uploadedFiles/Lower_Pool_10.pdf. The waters of Pool 10 are part of the Upper Mississippi River Wildlife and Fish Refuge.  The refuge is located in four states: Minnesota, Wisconsin, Iowa and Illinois along the Mississippi River and was established in in 1924 as a refuge for fish, wildlife and plants.   The refuge encompasses one of the largest blocks of floodplain habitat in the lower 48 states. Bordered by steep wooded bluffs the Mississippi River corridor and refuge offer scenic beauty and productive fish and wildlife habitat unmatched in the heart of America. The refuge covers just over 240,000 acres and extends 261 river miles from north to south at the confluence of the Chippewa River in Wisconsin to near Rock Island, Illinois and has been designated as a Wetland of International Importance (Ramsar) and a Globally Important Bird Area.

DOUGLAS COUNTY

Lower Eau Claire Lake - 802 acres.  During a recent spring survey conducted on Lower Eau Claire Lake, largemouth bass were sampled at a high rate of 15.0 fish/mile placing it above the 75th percentile for similar Wisconsin lakes.  A total of 117 largemouth bass were collected, which ranged in length from 7.2-17.2 inches and averaged 12.8 inches. Currently there is no minimum length limit on largemouth bass in Lower Eau Claire (5 daily bag limit – aggregate with smallmouth), offering a quality harvest opportunity for anglers. There is good access at a County Park on the southwest side of the lake off County Highway Y.   

IOWA COUNTY

Cox Hollow Lake - 81 Acres. The Largemouth Bass fishery in Cox Hollow Lake provides fishing opportunities of all kinds and the chance to catch trophy fish! Spring electrofishing surveys in 2016 yielded a catch rate of 79.9 Largemouth Bass per mile (compared to a median of 17.4 Largemouth Bass per mile in similar lakes statewide) with fish ranging from 6.5 to 20.2 inches and a mean length of 12 inches. Harvest opportunities are also present as there is no length limit for bass, daily bag limit of 5. Current Regulation: No minimum length limit, daily bag limit of 5. Access information: Cox Hollow Lake is located in Governor Dodge state park. A state park sticker or daily pass is required, and one public boat launch is available.  Only electric trolling motors are permitted on Cox Hollow Lake. Governor Dodge is the third largest state park in Wisconsin. Camping, fishing, hunting, hiking and horseback riding are permitted within the state park and a public beach and picnic area are provided. - Justin Haglund, Fisheries biologist – Dodgeville

LANGLADE COUNTY

Multiple lakes – Do you like finding good fishing lakes you can have mostly to yourself?  Do you like to combine exploring, scouting for hunting spots and finding hidden fishing gems?  Langlade County has hundreds of mostly smaller largemouth bass and bluegill type lakes, many of which are on the publicly accessible County Forest.  It shouldn’t take many trips to find some really good bass and panfish fishing on small lakes that don’t see many fishing rods and hooks.  14” length limit, 5 daily, and the harvest season opens the first Saturday in May.

LINCOLN COUNTY

Multiple lakes – Do you like finding good fishing lakes you can have mostly to yourself?  Do you like to combine exploring, scouting for hunting spots, and finding hidden fishing gems?  Lincoln County has hundreds of mostly smaller largemouth bass and bluegill type lakes, many of which are on the publicly accessible County Forest.  It shouldn’t take many trips to find some really good bass and panfish fishing on small lakes that don’t see many fishing rods and hooks.  14” length limit, 5 daily, and the harvest season opens the first Saturday in May. - Dave Seibel, Fisheries biologist, Antigo

OCONTO COUNTY

Reservoir Pond - 417 acres.  Previous surveys showed that Reservoir Pond has a respectable largemouth bass population.  The average length of bass collected during the last survey was 14 inches and fish up to 20 inches were collected.  Sixty percent of largemouth bass collected were over the 14-inch minimum length limit. Since Reservoir Pond is relatively shallow (average depth = 5 ft.) and there is a lot of aquatic vegetation and flooded timber, bass can hide and feed just about anywhere around the lake.  Current regulation: 14-inch minimum / 5 fish per day. Access information: There are 2 well developed boat landings and several undeveloped access points available for smaller boats/canoes. There is no early catch-and-release season for largemouth bass on Reservoir Pond even though it is within the northern bass zone.  Anglers can access Horn Lake, Little Horn Lake and Explosion Lake from Reservoir Pond.

POLK COUNTY

Balsam Lake - 1,901 acres.  Balsam Lake currently has a high density, moderate-size-structure largemouth bass population.  Catch rates of largemouth bass during recent electrofishing surveys have been high, with few fish over 15 inches.  Balsam Lake bass are managed with a no minimum length limit and 5 fish daily bag limit which makes it a great option for anglers interested in a sustainable harvest opportunity.  Anglers are encouraged to harvest small (<14 in) largemouth bass.  By thinning the population of largemouth bass in Balsam Lake, their size structure should improve. There are six boat landings on Balsam Lake.  In addition to the high-density bass fishery, Balsam Lake also has lower density, high size structure walleye and northern pike populations. 

VERNON COUNTY

Runge Hollow Lake - 39 acres (maximum depth: 15 feet). Runge Hollow Lake is a small impoundment in the South Fork Bad Axe River watershed.  A 2020 spring electrofishing survey produced good numbers of largemouth bass, bluegill, and black crappie. Largemouth bass up to 16 inches were captured in the survey. Current regulations: General inland waters regulations apply. Access information:  Boat landing located on Boat Landing Road off County Road Y.  Brown, brook and rainbow trout can also be caught in the lake during the spring before water temperatures warm.

WAUKESHA COUNTY

Eagle Spring Lake - 270 surface acres. Species population information:  Average Length – 9 inches.  Current regulation: No minimum length limit - largemouth bass and smallmouth bass from 14 inches to 18 inches may not be kept, and only 1 fish over 18 inches is allowed.  The daily bag limit is 5. Access information: The public launch is located on the lakes’ east side off of county Highway E, near Eagle Spring Pub. This lake has an abundant population of largemouth, so anglers are encouraged to harvest bass less than 14” to help reduce the population and improve growth rates.  

Okauchee Lake - 1210 surface acres. Species population information:  Average length – 15 inches with above average abundance. Current regulation: 14-inch minimum length, daily bag limit of 5. Access information: There are two boat launches found on Okauchee Lake; the DNR boat launch on upper Oconomowoc Lake and The Golden Mast Restaurant on the west basin of Okauchee.  Okauchee Lake has a maximum depth of 94 feet and has a very diverse and abundant aquatic plant community.

WAUSHARA COUNTY

Little Hills Lake - 81 acre seepage lake. Largemouth Bass population information:  The DNR conducted an electrofishing survey on Little Hills Lake in the spring of 2019 to evaluate the status of the bass and panfish populations. Catch rates of largemouth bass in Little Hills lake ranked out in the 96th percentiles for lakes in Wisconsin, indicating  high densities of largemouth bass can be found. The length limit on bass was removed in 2005 to reduce bass numbers and enhance the panfish fishery.  Numbers have been reduced, but there is still some room for reduction.   Anglers have the opportunity to catch some nice bass also as fish up to 19.3 inches were caught.  Current regulation:  Daily bag limit of 5 bass, with no minimum length. Access information: Boat launch with limited parking is on the southeast side off 21st Avenue.  High water on area lakes has resulted in some lakes being designated slow no wake.

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SMALLMOUTH BASS

ASHLAND AND BAYFIELD COUNTIES

Chequamegon Bay - Chequamegon Bay deserves its reputation as a trophy Smallmouth Bass fishery. Compared to all other lakes in Wisconsin, Chequamegon Bay Smallmouth Bass consistently fall around the 95th percentile in terms of size structure and abundance, meaning there are large fish and a lot of them. The average size of Smallmouth Bass landed by anglers in the spring in the Bay is about 17.5 inches and around one of every ten fish landed break the 19-inch mark. Most fishing effort for Smallmouth occurs in June, but good fishing also occurs throughout the summer and fall. Most Smallmouth Bass congregate in the shallow areas of Kakagon and Sandcut sloughs in the eastern portion of the Bay in spring to spawn, but then they disperse throughout the Bay as water temperatures warm to establish their own home ranges and feeding areas. In 1994 the DNR established a conservative 22-inch minimum length limit for Smallmouth Bass in Lake Superior with the support of local anglers. This regulation has been a large success and helped transform the fishery into the high-abundance, high-size structure population it is now. Since 1994, no legal harvest of Smallmouth Bass has been detected by our annual Lake Superior creel survey. The low exploitation has led to an increased average lifespan (or more older fish) of these bass in Chequamegon Bay. The age of an average-sized Smallmouth Bass caught in this fishery is likely 8-10 years old, but anglers occasionally find themselves tangling with a trophy of 20 years or even older. Current regulation: May 1 through June 19 is catch-and-release only. From June 20 to March 6, one fish over 22 inches can be harvested. Access information: Popular public access points for this fishery include Second Landing and Kreher Park in Ashland. Public Boat Landings can be found at https://dnr.wi.gov/topic/Beaches/documents/BeachBoatLaunches.pdf - Dray Carl, Fisheries biologist, Lake Superior

BARRON COUNTY

Silver Lake - 331 acres.  Silver Lake has a respectable smallmouth bass fishery.  Roughly half of the smallmouth bass handled in a recent survey were 14 inches or larger, with smallmouth bass over 18 inches present.  The Silver Lake smallmouth bass fishery is managed with the statewide bass regulation- 14 inch minimum length limit and five fish daily bag limit.  There is one public boat landing at Grant County Park on the south end of Silver Lake off CTH B.  The park is maintained by Barron County and includes a restroom, picnic shelter, and swimming beach.  Smallmouth bass do well in Silver Lake due to the abundance of rock and gravel which are habitats that smallmouth prefer.  In addition to smallmouth bass, bass anglers will also find a largemouth bass population with moderate size structure.

BURNETT, SAWYER AND WASHBURN COUNTIES

Namekagon River. The Namekagon River flows through Sawyer, Washburn, and Burnett Counties.  Smallmouth bass mostly are found from Hayward to the St Croix River confluence. The Namekagon River offers great fishing for smallmouth bass.  Smallmouth bass are the most abundant gamefish in the river and can be found in most holes, eddies, or chutes.  2020 surveys show an overall average length of 11.5 inches with bass up to 19.5 inches.  Thirty-five percent of the fish collected were over 14 inches.  Current regulation: 14-inch minimum length limit, 5 fish bag limitAccess: There are multiple canoe access points between Hayward and the St Croix River confluence.  The best way to plan a fishing trip is using the National Park Service website:  https://www.nps.gov/sacn/planyourvisit/maps.htm 

DOOR COUNTY 

Green Bay waters. The smallmouth bass fishery along the Green Bay waters of Door County is well known for its outstanding abundance and robust size structure.  Although the 2020 creel data are not yet available, smallmouth bass sport fishing catch per effort declined substantially between 2018 and 2019.  Angler catch rates decreased between 2018 and 2019 from 0.89 to 0.63 smallmouth caught per hour fished; a level just slightly below the previous 15-year average of 0.64.  The most recent netting surveys of the spawning populations in the Sturgeon Bay area in 2017 indicate mixed trends in catch per effort (measure of relative abundance).  Recruitment, measured as first or second year spawning fish, was good in the Sawyer Harbor/Sturgeon Bay area, while the Little Sturgeon Bay population continued to struggle compared to several years previous.  Overall, the Door County smallmouth meta-population is in relatively good condition in both numbers and size structure.  Current regulation:  The rules vary by location and date; anglers should check the smallmouth fishing rules in the Tributary Streams to Green Bay and Lake Michigan and the Lake Michigan sections of the regulation pamphlet for season and harvest rules.  Anglers should also note that a new rule implemented in 2020 created a Fish Refuge in the Mink River beginning with the normal March gamefish closure until June 15.  Access information:  There are many boat launches in the area including several in Sturgeon Bay and Little Sturgeon Bay; Peninsula State Park is one of the sites that provide access to areas in northern Door County.  Anglers can refer to a map of the area for boat launch sites or go to: http://dnr.wi.gov/topic/lands/boataccess for a listing of some of the launches in the area.  One of the better shore fishing sites is the George K. Pinney County Park (formerly the Olde Stone Quarry Park) that is located at the north side of the mouth of Sturgeon Bay.   

JACKSON, CLARK, MONROE, LA CROSSE AND TREMPEALEAU COUNTIES  

Lower Black River (below the Black River Falls dam, Jackson, Monroe, La Crosse, and Trempealeau Counties) and upper Black River (above the Black River Falls dam, Clark and Jackson Counties).  Catch rates are based on 2020 electrofishing results (expressed as average number of fish captured per mile of lake shoreline or river surveyed). Black River, Lower: Total catch rate was 2.8/mile, catch rate of 14”+ fish was 0.4/mile, and maximum size captured was 16.7”.  In 2019, total catch rate was 7.1/mile, catch rate of 14”+ size fish was 1.4/mile, and maximum size captured was 18”. Black River, Upper: Total catch rate was 38.7/mile, catch rate of 14”+ fish was 2.9/mile, catch rate of 18+” fish was 0.7/mile, and maximum size captured was 18.9”. Regulation: 14” minimum length limit, daily bag limit of 5. Access Information: Upper Black River – Halls Creek Canoe Landing and Black River State Forest unimproved landings off Palm and Brickyard Roads (Jackson County), and DNR boat landing off Opelt Avenue (Clark County).  Lower Black River – 3rd Street Canoe Landing (City of Black River Falls), Perry Creek Landing, Mason’s Landing, Irving Township Canoe Landing, Highway 108 Landing near Melrose, WI, North Bend Landing off CTH VV, and Highway 35 landing in Van Loon Bottoms. Other Information: The lower Black River (downstream of the Black River Falls dam) has a continuous (year-round) fishing season for smallmouth bass. 

MARINETTE COUNTY

Chalk Hills Flowage - 866 acres.  Population information: Data collected in 2016 demonstrated an average length of bass collected was 15 inches and fish up to 20 inches were measured.  There are scattered areas of rock and aquatic vegetation that provide good smallmouth bass habitat.    Current regulation: 14-inch minimum / 5 fish per day. Access information: Anglers can choose from 4 boat landings from Pemene Falls to the Chalk Hills dam. This section of the Menominee River supports diverse habitat with shallow river water (less than 5 feet) above Chalk Hills. The impoundment has a maximum depth of 30 ft and 80% of the impoundment is greater than 3 ft.

SAWYER COUNTY 

Sand Lake (800 acres) sits just east of Stone Lake in Sawyer County. Sand is known primarily as a walleye and muskellunge fishery, but it also has a nice population of smallmouth bass. Some of the other clear-sandy lakes in the same drainage (Round, Lac Courte Oreilles, and Grindstone) are well known for smallmouth fishing. Sand has similar habitat characteristics and produces bass of the same quality as those larger waters. A fall survey in 2020 found smallmouth up to 21 inches, with many in the 14 to 18-inch range. There is a public boat launch on the northeast part of the lake off County Hwy F. 

VILAS COUNTY 

Plum Lake   - 1,033 acres. Plum Lake supports an excellent, trophy smallmouth bass population that provides tremendous angling opportunities. The most recent population estimate survey was conducted in 2018 and estimated a density of 1.0 smallmouth bass ≥ 8” per acre. Most smallmouth bass in Plum Lake are 14-18” but fish over 20” are not uncommon. During the 2018 survey, 26% of the fish captured were 18” or larger with the largest measuring 20.4”.  Current Regulation: 1 bag; 18” minimum length limit. Access information: There are two boat landings on Plum Lake, one on the north shore off Razorback Road and another on the south shore off Plum Lake Drive. There is a Northern Highland American Legion State Forest campground located along the southwest shore of Plum Lake with 18 campsites. - Eric Wegleitner, Fisheries biologist – Vilas County

WAUKESHA AND JEFFERSON COUNTIES

Oconomowoc River - approximately 17 river miles. Species population information:  Average length – 14 inches.  
Current regulation: 14” minimum length, daily bag limit of 5. Access information: Access sites include numerous highway and road crossings where right of way public access rules apply including South Concord Road, Hwy BB, Morgan Road, Hwy F and West River Drive.  The Oconomowoc River provides excellent opportunities for paddlers and in some reaches wading can be productive.  Clear water and abundant woody structure provide excellent habitat for smallmouth bass.

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NORTHERN PIKE

BARRON COUNTY

Bear Lake - 1,348 acres.  Bear Lake has an abundant northern pike population that gives anglers plenty of action, while also providing the opportunity for larger fish.  Most of the pike collected from Bear Lake during recent fisheries surveys ranged from 15-25 inches; however, pike up to 35 inches were also handled.  Bear Lake pike are managed with the no minimum length limit, 5 fish daily bag limit.  There are five public boat landings.  The landing off 28 ¾ Ave is the best option for larger boats.  Bear Lake has great habitat for northern pike because it has a diverse aquatic plant community and cool water.  Also, Bear Lake has a robust cisco population, which are an important prey species for predator fish like northern pike.

DOUGLAS COUNTY

Amnicon Lake - During a recent fall electrofishing survey conducted on Amnicon Lake (390 acres), crews documented a high abundance of northern pike. While most of the pike observed in the survey were under 25 inches, the high densities and expansive vegetation provide anglers with a quality pike action opportunity. Currently there is no minimum length limit for northern pike in Amnicon Lake (5/day bag limit), and anglers are encouraged to harvest pike to improve the fishery. There is good access just off County Highway A on the northwest corner of the lake.

MARINETTE, OCONTO, BROWN AND DOOR COUNTIES

Green Bay and tributaries. Northern pike inhabiting the productive waters of Green Bay have a wide variety of forage to grow quickly. It is not uncommon for anglers to report catching fish in the upper 30 to low 40-inch size range. Because the vast size of the bay reduces competition between top predators and because it hosts an abundance of prey fish such as yellow perch, gizzard shad, and round gobies, we do not see stunted populations of northerns as is commonly seen in many inland lakes. Current regulation for Green Bay and major tributaries: Open all year. Daily limit is 5. No minimum length. Current regulation for all other Green Bay tributaries: Open 1st Saturday in May to 1st Sunday in March. Daily limit is 5. No minimum length. Access information: There are numerous boat access and tributary access locations along Green Bay. See the following websites for detailed information. http://dnr.wi.gov/topic/lands/boataccess/. http://dnr.wi.gov/topic/fishing/lakemichigan/TributaryAccess.html. In early spring, adult northern pike migrate from Green Bay in tributaries and ditches to spawn in shallow wetlands, often travelling dozens of miles.  Culverts that are undersized or improperly set can prevent adult pike from accessing prime wetland habitats. Many partner agencies (federal, county, tribal) have been working to identify and replace poor culverts in streams connected to Green Bay.

OCONTO COUNTY

Townsend Flowage. The last survey indicated an abundant pike population with fish averaging 22 inches.  Pike over 30 inches were collected.  This is a popular winter fishing spot because it’s one of the first local lakes to freeze.
Current Regulation: no minimum length /5 fish per day. Access information:  There are 3 public boat landings (and several private landings) around the flowage

OUTAGAMIE AND WINNEBAGO  COUNTIES

Little Lake Butte des Morts includes from Neenah-Menasha dams downstream to Appleton Lock 1. 1,200 acres Little Lake Butte des Morts provides multi-species angling opportunities and is known for its northern pike fishery.  In the spring of 2020 DNR fisheries crews set fyke nets on Little Lake Butte des Morts to assess the northern pike population.  There were 674 northern pike captured with an average size of 27.0 inches for females and 21.4 inches for males.  The presence of quality- sized northern pike was also observed with 30 fish surpassing 32 inches and the largest fish measuring 38.8 inches.  Good opportunities exist for quality-trophy sized fish, particularly during the ice fishing season.  Anglers should make note of the recently implemented northern pike regulation and be sure to check ice conditions prior to venturing out.   Current regulations: The current open season on northern pike is May 1, 2021 to March 6, 2022. Only two northern pike may be kept, and pike between 25-35” must be released. Access Information: There are numerous accesses around Little Lake Butte des Morts.  Consult a system map or the DNR’s Boat Access Website to search for launch information near where you want to fish (http://dnr.wi.gov/topic/lands/boataccess). -Adam Nickel, Fisheries biologist, Oshkosh

SHAWANO COUNTY 

Wilson Lake - 20 acres. Northern Pike population information:  In spring 2018, the DNR conducted a fyke netting survey on Wilson Lake to evaluate the current status of the northern pike fishery. Despite being a small lake, 213 northern pike were captured in the 2018 fyke netting survey. While the majority of the northern pike captured in 2018 were between 14–20 inches, five northern pike over 27 inches were captured including three over 32 inches. Wilson Lake provides a great action northern pike fishery with the opportunity to catch a high-quality northern pike as well. Current regulation:  Daily bag limit of five and no minimum length limit. Access information: One public boat landing is available in Wilson Lake County Park on the east side on Wilson Lake off Oak Road. The DNR partners with Shawano County to operate an aerator every winter on Wilson Lake to prevent winterkills. Good numbers and sizes of yellow perch were also captured in the 2018 netting survey, giving anglers some panfish species to target along with northern pike.

WAUKESHA COUNTY

Okauchee Lake - 1257 surface acresNorthern pike are abundant in Okauchee Lake having a population estimate of 5 adults per surface acre.  New regulations in 2020 for pike on Okauchee Lake provide anglers with a harvest opportunity to promote the reduction of pike abundance and improved size structure. Average Length – 20 inches
Current regulation: New in 2020 – northern pike slot size.  No minimum length limit, fish between 25 and 35 inches may not be kept, daily bag limit of two. Access information: There are two public launches on Okauchee Lake found at the Golden Mast Restaurant and the DNR launch.  The DNR boat launch is located just east of the Okauchee Lake dam on Road T, north of Wisconsin Avenue.  The Golden Mast boat launch is located off of Lacy Lane north of East Wisconsin Avenue.


PANFISH

BUFFALO COUNTY

Mississippi River– Pool 5A. 2020 fall electrofishing surveys showed a healthy bluegill fishery.  Overall, nearly 70 adult and juvenile bluegill were captured per hour.  Forty percent of surveyed bluegill were greater than six inches, while nearly one in five were greater than seven inches.  Surveyed bluegill topped out just shy of 8 inches. Current regulation: Daily limit 15. Access information: Check DNR website for access locations. Pool 5A and its floodplain encompass approximately 17,700 acres.  Merrick State Park is located on Pool 5A north of Fountain City.  Check DNR website for park information.

CALUMET, FOND DU LAC, GREEN LAKE, OUTAGAMIE, SHAWANO, WAUSHARA, WAUPACA, and WINNEBAGO COUNTIES

The Lake Winnebago System includes four lakes (Lakes Winnebago, Butte des Morts, Winneconne, and Poygan) and two main river systems (upper Fox and Wolf Rivers) and associated tributaries upstream to the first dam. Acres and River Length: 165,246 acres for the lakes and roughly 142 river miles. The Lake Winnebago System provides anglers with diverse fishing opportunities. Quality fishing for panfish species is generally seasonal with anglers having the best luck for bluegill and black crappie during the month of May while fish are in the shallows getting ready to spawn. Yellow perch can also be patterned in shallow vegetation while spawning in late March–early April, but peak yellow perch effort and harvest typically occurs between July and September. The annual bottom trawl assessment on Lake Winnebago dates to 1986 and results from the 2020 assessment suggest a bright future for panfish species. For starters, a record year class of young of year yellow perch was observed during the 2020 assessment. This year class will not be recruited to the fishery in 2021, but fish from the relatively strong year classes in 2018 and 2019 should provide anglers with harvestable yellow perch for table fare. The 2020 year class of black crappie was also very strong, registering as the 2nd largest year class observed on record. The catch rate of adult black crappie observed during the trawl assessment was relatively low, but there are still some slab sized crappies remaining in the system from the record year class in 2016. Bluegill and pumpkinseed sunfish are not commonly captured during the bottom trawl assessment. However, recent survey results indicate that quality-size bluegill and sunfish reside within the Lake Winnebago System and that fishing for these species can be good to exceptional at times, particularly when fish are concentrated during spawning periods and early ice. Current Regulations: The season is open year-round for panfish with an aggregate daily bag limit of 25 fish and no minimum length limit on any species. Access information: There are numerous access points around the Lake Winnebago system ranging from multi-lane launch facilities with ample parking to small unpaved town access at road ends. Many of the larger, more developed sites require a daily or seasonal launch fee. Consult a map of the system to see what access is near where you want to launch or go to the DNR’s Boat and Shore Fishing Access Website to search for access information (http://dnr.wi.gov/topic/lands/boataccess).

CHIPPEWA COUNTY

Otter Lake - 661 acres. Otter Lake, an impoundment of Otter Creek, is a productive system that has been known to produce quality panfish for decades.  Otter Lake’s complex habitat is one reason why it consistently has a quality fishery.  Otter Lake has an intricate shoreline, many islands, bays, points, stump fields, and stretches of aquatic vegetation where fish can feed, seek refuge and spawn.  A spring 2018 fisheries survey found good numbers of quality-sized panfish.  Bluegill catch rates were high and 35% of the bluegill caught were over 7”.  Survey data showed a large 2016 year class of black crappie present and they should be around 10” by 2021.  If you plan on ice fishing Otter Lake, be aware of two aerators that keep portions of the lake open to prevent a winterkill, but don’t worry the open areas are barricaded off.   Current Regulations: 25 fish bag limit, no minimum length limit. Access information: Four boat landings.  Joseph Gerbyshak – Fisheries biologist, Eau Claire

CRAWFORD COUNTY

Mississippi River Pool 10 - 10,135 acres and 34 Miles of open water. The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources surveyed backwater lakes, sloughs, and side channels in early fall of 2020 in McGregor Lake area near Prairie du Chien, WI to determine the health of the fishery.  Bluegill was the dominate game species in our survey with catch-per unit effort for bluegill at fish 50 per hour.  The size of bluegill ranged from 3 to 8 inches with the largest bluegill being 8.5 inches.  Many bluegills were in the 6 to 8”-inch range and it not uncommon to catch larger bluegill in Pool 10.   Current regulation: Continuous open season, no minimum length with a 25-daily bag limit for sunfish (bluegill and pumpkinseed). Access information: There are many boat and shore fishing access locations along the Mississippi River. Check out the following websites for more details. https://dnr.wi.gov/topic/lands/boataccess/
https://www.fws.gov/uploadedFiles/Upper_Pool_10.pdf. https://www.fws.gov/uploadedFiles/Lower_Pool_10.pdf
The waters of Pool 10 are part of the Upper Mississippi River Wildlife and FishRefuge. The refuge is located in four states: Minnesota, Wisconsin, Iowa and Illinois along the Mississippi River and was established in in 1924 as a refuge for fish, wildlife and plants.   The refuge encompasses one of the largest blocks of floodplain habitat in the lower 48 states. Bordered by steep wooded bluffs the Mississippi River corridor and refuge offer scenic beauty and productive fish and wildlife habitat unmatched in the heart of America. The refuge covers just over 240,000 acres and extends 261 river miles from north to south at the confluence of the Chippewa River in Wisconsin to near Rock Island, Illinois and has been designated as a Wetland of International Importance (Ramsar) and a Globally Important Bird Area.

IOWA COUNTY

Cox Hollow Lake - 81 acres. Population Information: Cox Hollow Lake in Iowa County contains an excellent Bluegill fishery. Bluegill dominate the panfish fishery; however, Black Crappie, Green Sunfish, Pumpkinseed, and Yellow Perch are also present. 2016 surveys yielded a catch rate of 571 Bluegill per mile, surpassing the statewide median of 117 fish per mile when comparing to other similar lakes. Bluegill ranged from 3.4-8.8 inches and an average length of 7 inches. Current Regulation: 10 Panfish in total. Access information: Cox Hollow Lake is located in Governor Dodge state park. A state park sticker or daily pass is required, and one public boat launch is available.  Only electric trolling motors are permitted on Cox Hollow Lake. Governor Dodge is the third largest state park in Wisconsin. Camping, fishing, hunting, hiking, and horseback riding are permitted within the state park and a public beach and picnic area are provided.  - Justin Haglund, Fisheries biologist – Dodgeville

MARINETTE, OCONTO, BROWN AND DOOR COUNTIES

Green Bay - In summary, yellow perch recruitment has been relatively steady for the last fifteen years, with the exception of the poor 2014- and 2019-year classes. A population model estimates that the adult yellow perch (age 1 and older) abundance was around 1.4 million fish in 2019.  In recent years, high water levels on Lake Michigan means more habitat for fish. This has led to improved perch angling in nearshore, protected areas such as Duck Creek, Oconto Park II, and Seagull Bar. The 2020 open water harvest estimates for yellow perch will be available by spring of 2021.  Current regulation: Open May 20 to March 15. Daily limit is 15 yellow perch. No minimum length.  Access information: There are dozens of boat and shore access locations to fish for yellow perch on Green Bay. Check out the following websites for more details and maps. https://dnr.wi.gov/topic/lands/boataccess/. https://dnr.wi.gov/topic/fishing/lakemichigan/TributaryAccess.html. Although the majority of yellow perch harvested from Green Bay are 2 and 3 years old, there are a few old perch that still survive.  The oldest yellow perch from Green Bay that we’ve seen in recent years was a 15¼-inch fish that was aged at 12 years old.

MARINETTE COUNTY

Big Newton Lake - 69 acres. Big bluegill can be found in Newton Lake located just north of Crivitz.  In 2019, 36% of the bluegill collected were over 8 inches.  The lake is relatively clear but weed growth and some undeveloped shoreline provide good habitat for panfish.  Most of the bigger panfish move of into 8 to 10 feet of water post-spawn. Current Regulation: 25 panfish in total (bluegill, pumpkinseed, yellow perch, crappie). Access information:  Newton Lake can be accessed from a boat ramp located on the west side of the lake on Newton Lake Rd.

MARQUETTE COUNTY

Kilby Lake - 46 acre seepage lake.  Bluegill population information:  The DNR conducted an electrofishing survey on Kilby Lake in the spring of 2019 to evaluate the status of the bass and panfish populations. Catch rates of bluegill in Kilby lake ranked in the 83rd percentiles for lakes in Wisconsin, indicating moderately high densities of bluegill can be found. Anglers have the opportunity to catch some nice bluegills as 39% of the bluegills captured  were at least 7 inches. The largest bluegill captured in Kilby Lake was 9.4 inches. Good numbers of pumpkinseeds were also captured with moderate size structure (43% were over 6 inches). Current regulation:  Daily bag limit of 25 panfish, with no minimum length. Access information: Boat launch with limited parking is on the south side off Kilby Lake Road.

ONEIDA COUNTY

Squaw Lake – 758 acres, 9 miles of shoreline, 21 feet maximum depth. Recent survey results documented a healthy Black Crappie population with solid size structure and multiple year classes. The largest fish handled was just over 12 inches with the majority between 9.5 to 11 inches. Squaw Lake has a panfish regulation that allows 15 panfish to be kept, but no more than 5 of any one species. This panfish regulation differs from the statewide panfish regulation. A concrete public boat launch with good access and ample parking is located off West Squaw Lake Road. - Zach Woiak, Fisheries biologist, Rhinelander

PORTAGE, WOOD, ADAMS AND JUNEAU COUNTIES

Wisconsin River (Stevens Point Flowage; Petenwell Lake)-  2489 acres; 23,178 acres. In the fall of 2020, we used fyke nets to do a limited survey in the Stevens Point Flowage and Petenwell Lake, our objective was twofold 1) collect fish for contaminant analysis and 2) explore the use of this sampling, as surveys in the spring are a challenge if mother nature doesn’t cooperate.  Our catch for crappies and walleye was decent for how little effort was put into the surveys, so we plan to continue to investigate the use of this sampling for monitoring on large flowages.  Crappie recruitment is variable, and for both flowages we see a good yearclass for 2021.  For Stevens Point flowage, 1199 crappies were caught, they ranged from 3.1-15.0”.  84% of the crappies that were at least 5” were 8” or greater, 63% were 10” or greater, and 11% were 12” or greater.  For Petenwell Lake, 425 crappies were caught, they ranged from 3.1-13.8”.  76% of the crappies that were at least 5” were 8” or greater, 57% were 10” or greater, and 44% were 12” or greater.  Anglers should enjoy a good crappie fishery in 2021 for both flowages.  In addition, age-0 crappie catch was very high for both flowages and will reach the fisheries in 2024 and 2025 as 8” and 10” fish, respectively.  Access information: There are ample public boat launch and shore fishing access opportunities for both flowages.  Popular boat launches for the Stevens Point Flowage includes: Old Hwy 10/ Hwy 66 launch, Buckholt Park, and the Hwy 10 launch.  Popular boat launches for Petenwell Lake include Jim Freeman Memorial Launch (aka Nekoosa City Launch), Plank Hill boat launch, and Chester Creek.  Checkout the Department’s Boat and Shore Fishing Access website for more information: https://dnr.wisconsin.gov/topic/lands/boataccess.html

POLK COUNTY

Wapogasset and Bear Trap lakes  - 1,436 acres (both lakes combined).  Wapogasset and Bear Trap lakes have an abundant and diverse panfish community.  In a recent survey, good numbers of bluegill, black crappie, and yellow perch were captured.  All species had good size distribution.  In addition to the typical panfish species, there is also a white bass population with high size structure.  Panfish are managed with the 25-fish bag limit, no minimum length limit.  There are two public boat landings on Wapogasset and one on Bear Trap.  The southernmost boat landing on Wapogasset Lake is operated by the town of Garfield and is the best option for handling larger boats.  In addition to desirable panfish populations, these lakes also contain good walleye and musky populations.

SAUK COUNTY

White Mound Lake - 104 Acres. High predator densities in White Mound Lake keep panfish numbers in check and contribute to good panfish growth. A 2019 survey saw 720 bluegills collected with the largest measuring over 10 inches, and 5% of the total catch exceeding 8 inches. Yellow Perch were less abundant with a total of 123 collected.  Size structure was good, with 71% exceeding 8 inches and 16% exceeding 10 inches and a maximum size of 11.9 inches.  Black and White Crappies were rare, but Black Crappies in excess of 13 inches and White Crappies in excess of 15 inches were collected.Current Regulation: General statewide regulation; no minimum length limit and a daily bag limit of 25 fish. Access information: White Mound Lake is in White Mound County Park managed by Sauk County. A seasonal or daily pass is required, and one public boat launch is available.  Gas motors are allowed, but speed is limited to slow-no wake. Interesting Points:  White Mound Lake was formed in 1970 as a flood relief reservoir. - Nathan Nye, Fisheries biologist – Poynette

WAUPACA COUNTY

Allen Lake and Hartman Lake – Hartman Creek State Park. Water size: Allen Lake is 18 acres and Hartman Lake is 24 acres. Bluegill population information:  The DNR conducted electrofishing surveys on both Allen Lake and Hartman Lake in the spring of 2019 to evaluate the status of the panfish populations. Catch rates of bluegill in both lakes ranked out between the 49th and 51st percentiles for lakes in Wisconsin, indicating moderate densities of bluegill can be found in both lakes. Anglers have the opportunity to catch some nice bluegills in both lakes as 26% of the bluegills captured in Allen Lake and 38% of the bluegills captured in Hartman Lake were ≥7 inches. The biggest bluegill captured in Allen Lake was 10.8 inches whereas the biggest bluegill captured in Hartman Lake was 9.1 inches. Current regulation:  Daily bag limit of 15 panfish, with no more than 5 of any one species of panfish. Access information: Both Allen Lake and Hartman Lake are located entirely in Hartman Creek State Park, providing opportunities for anglers to fish all the way around both lakes. Allen Lake has a fishing pier and canoe access located on the east side of the lake near the dam as well as trails going around the shoreline of the lake. Hartman Lake has trails going around that lake that anglers can use to access various fishing locations.  The DNR completed “fish sticks” and tree drops habitat projects on both Allen Lake and Hartman Lake in 2017 with the goal of improving nearshore fish habitat in both lakes.  Pumpkinseed and yellow perch were also captured in both lakes, providing additional species for panfish anglers to target.

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CATFISH

JEFFERSON COUNTY

Rock River (downstream from Watertown) - 6.1 river miles. The Rock River from the Hwy 26 bypass bridge at Watertown downstream to Hahn’s Lake was sampled for channel and flathead catfish during the summer of 2020.  The 10-day hoop net survey documented 517 channel catfish and 30 flathead catfish.  The average length of channel catfish was 19.3 inches and the average length of flathead catfish was 32.0 inches.  The largest channel catfish was 29.0 inches and 8.31 lbs.  Seventy-four percent of the channel catfish measured were over 16 inches.  The largest flathead catfish was 42.3 inches and 42.4 lbs.  All of the flathead catfish measured were over 20 inches with 10 percent over the trophy size of 40 inches.  A low-pulse electrofishing survey to identify young of year (YOY) recruitment in this stretch of river was conducted two weeks after the hoop net survey.  A total of 1208 YOY channel catfish were sampled in 7 miles for a catch rate of 172.6 per mile. Current regulation: No length limit.  10 in total. Access information: Boat ramps exist just below the Hwy 26 bridge (Cappies Landing) south of Watertown and at Rock River Park on Hwy B just west of Johnson Creek. Although they are in low density, there is the potential for trophy size flathead catfish in the Rock River.  Channel catfish produced a very successful spawn in this stretch of the Rock River with great habitat and multiple bends.

KENOSHA COUNTY

Fox River - From the Fox River County Park Boat Landing downstream 3.6 miles to the Illinois boarder. During the 2020 hoop netting survey a total of 211 channel catfish and 6 flathead catfish were captured.  Channel catfish lengths ranged from 10 to 27 inches with an average size of 17.8 inches.  Flathead catfish lengths ranged from 17 to 43 inches with an average size of 24.7 inches. Current regulation: There is a year-round open season on the Fox River for all gamefish except muskellunge, lake sturgeon, trout, paddlefish and threatened or endangered species.  No minimum length limit and 10 fish total daily bag limit on catfish. Access information: There is a public boat launch and shorefishing at the Fox River County Park on Silver Lake Road near Silver Lake, WI.

LAFAYETTE AND GREEN COUNTIES

Pecatonica River  - 58 miles. The Pecatonica River supports a fishable population of channel catfish and flathead catfish. Hoop net surveys during August of 2020 sampled 596 yearling, and adult channel catfish from 8.0 to 25.3 inches with an average size of 13.2 inches. Thirty percent of the sample was 16 inches or greater.  Six percent of the sample was 20 inches or greater.  The same surveys sampled 18 flathead catfish from 9.1 to 23.6 inches with an average size of 14.9 inches.    Current Regulation: No length limit with a daily bag limit of 10. Access information: Public boat launch and accessible bank fishing opportunities are located at State Highway 11, near Gratiot, and Darlington. Walk in anglers may also have access to the river via road crossings or permission from private landowners. Most of the River in Lafayette and Green Counties is navigable by boat. Seasonal log jams determine the number of stream miles open for boating. The Pecatonica River is a tributary of the Rock River. It is approximately 195 miles flowing from southern Wisconsin into northern Illinois. The word Pecatonica is believed to be Algonquian meaning “ slow water”. - Bradd Sims
Fisheries biologist – Dodgeville

MARATHON, PORTAGE AND WOOD COUNTIES

Wisconsin River Flowages (Lake Wausau, Lake DuBay, and Wisconsin Rapids Flowage) Lake Wausau = 1,604 acres, from the Wausau Dam downstream to the Rothschild Dam, and includes part of the confluence with the Big Rib River which is all water west of I-94 bridge. Lake Dubay = 4,649 acres, from the Mosinee Dam downstream to the Dubay Dam. Wisconsin Rapids Flowage = 504 acres, from the Biron Dam downstream to the Wisconsin Rapids Dam. Hoop netting surveys were conducted in late, summer of 2020 in all 3 Wisconsin River flowages. Lake Wausau: We observed a relative abundance of 0.9 fish/net-night, which would be considered to be a low-density channel catfish population when compared to Wisconsin River benchmarks. The average length of catfish was 24.6” and individuals ranged from 17.1-35.3”. Approximately 56% of the population were 24” and larger, and over 29% of catfish were 28” and larger.  The channel catfish size structure of this population is considerably above average and suggests that Lake Wausau has the potential to produce trophy catfish. Lake Dubay: The catch rate of channel catfish was 10.6 fish/net-night in Lake Dubay, which is greater than average, yet considered a moderate-density for the Wisconsin River Flowages. The fish length varied from 8.3-30.7” and the average length was 19.6”.  Of all fish sampled, 97% were 16” or larger, 9% were 24” or larger. Wisconsin Rapids Flowage:  The channel catfish catch rate was 6.7 fish/net-night, which is considered a moderate-density.  The catch varied from 11.2-28.6 and the average length was 19.6”.  Although the lengths of the fish were fairly diverse, quality-sized or greater (≥ 16”) catfish represented 90% of the catch and only 2% represented fish 24” or larger. Current regulation: No minimum length limit and the daily bag limit is 10, for all flowages. Lake Wausau has multiple public shorefishing opportunities at including Memorial Park, Oak Island Park, Riverside Park, DC Everest County Park, Bluegill Bay County Park, and Radtke Park.  Boat Launches are located at most of these except for Riverside Park and Radtke Park which are limited to launching small watercraft only. Lake Dubay has boat launches spread out through the entire flowage and tailwater.  The more popular launches include the launchs at Beans Eddy, Chuck’s Landing, Moon Dam, Seagull Drive, Dubay Drive, CTH C, CTH E, and Lake Dubay Park.  The best shoreline opportunities can be found near Moon Dam, Beans Eddy, Riverwoods Trail, Lake Dubay Park, CTH DB, STH 34, and Seagull Drive. Wisconsin Rapids Flowage – Fish off of South Biron Drive for shoreline access and then there is a fishing pier (near Strawberry Lane) and two boat launches including one off of Reddin Road and the other off of South Biron Drive. Lake Wausau’s population of channel catfish represents the upstream extent of channel catfish distribution in the Wisconsin River.  Very few channel catfish are found upstream of Wausau Dam.  Lake Alice used to be the most upstream population of channel catfish, but the status and viability of this introduced catfish population is currently unknown. Although the Lake Dubay channel catfish population is a high-density population known for harvest opportunities, anglers can still find opportunities to catch some larger-size fish that are approaching 30”.  The productive capacity of this population is largely due to the amount of habitat volume found in the flowage, backwaters and extensive tailwaters of the Wisconsin River, and also because Lake Dubay is the fertile product of the Wisconsin, Big Eau Pleine, and Little Eau Pleine rivers. The Wisconsin Rapids Flowage is a smaller impoundment on the Wisconsin River, yet it produces ample harvest opportunities for channel catfish, similar the higher density populations found in other larger Wisconsin River impoundments in central Wisconsin.

ST CROIX AND POLK COUNTIES

St. Croix River (Taylor’s Falls to Lake St. Croix - 30 river miles). The St. Croix River from Taylor’s Falls downstream to Lake St. Croix was sampled for flathead and channel catfish. Flatheads up to 47 inches and channel catfish up to 34 inches were captured. Both channel and flathead catfish were in low densities with a high potential for trophy- sized fish. Average length of channel catfish was 24 inches while average length of flathead catfish was 34 inches. Multiple trophy sized flathead catfish were captured during the survey with fish larger than 40 inches making up 32% of the sample. Current regulation: 10 in total. Boat ramps exist at Hudson, WI, Stillwater, MN, Somerset, WI, Osceola, Wi and Interstate State Park. Much of the shoreline is owned by the National Park Service providing ample shorefishing and camping opportunities. There is the potential for trophy size flatheads and channel catfish in this stretch of the St. Croix River with great habitat a very scenic float along the bluffs of the river.

SHAWANO COUNTY

Upper Fox River. - The story of Grandpa Flathead. The fish measured slightly longer than our 48 inch measuring board.  This is the largest fish we have sampled in almost 20 years of surveying flatheads on the Fox River.  No scale was available for this large of fish, but there is little doubt he was well over 50 pounds. Grandpa was still proudly wearing his original green floy tag alongside his dorsal fin, which he was given May 20, 2003.  He was 37.5 inches at the time and a pectoral spine was removed for aging.  We estimated he was 22 years old and with what we now know about using the pectoral spine, we likely underaged him by a year or two. On July 11, 2008 he was caught during our hoop netting adult survey.  Grandpa was 44.2 inches long and weighed 35 pounds.   On August 27, 2010 he was caught again during our electrofishing survey which typically targets juvenile fish. He was 46.8 inches and weighed 44.7 pounds.  He would be at least 29 years old at the time. Grandpa disappeared for 10 years but on August 13, 2020 he was caught again during our juvenile August shocking survey.  We have no idea how long these critters live and in the past speculated around 25 years.  We have recently had fish in the low 30 year old range, but he is at least 39 years old and likely in the 40 year old range.  He looked relatively healthy and no telling how many more years he has in him.


LAKE STURGEON

BURNETT COUNTY

Upper St. Croix River - Upper St. Croix River-between Confluence with Namekagon River and St. Croix Falls (Burnett County and WI/MN border). Lake Sturgeon sampled in 2020 ranged from 16.2 to 49.5 inches in length.  The average length was 24.9 inches.  97% of the sturgeon sampled in 2020 were juvenile sturgeon (less than 45 inches).  The Upper St. Croix River offers a good opportunity to catch lake sturgeon.  Most fish are 20 to 30 inches, but large adults over 60 inches are present.  Anglers who fish during the sturgeon catch and release season should take special care while handling a fish once landed.  Land the fish, photograph it (if you choose to), and release it quickly to reduce stress and ensure survival.  Lift sturgeon horizontally (not by the tail or gill covers) under the belly to avoid damaging these living dinosaurs.  Current Regulation and Season: catch and release only. June 16 – March 1. Access: There are several boat and canoes launches on the Upper St. Croix River. Visit the National Park Service website for more information: http://www.nps.gov/sacn/planyourvisit/maps.html.    Wisconsin DNR and Minnesota DNR both use yellow dangler tags on the Upper St. Croix River (to mark fish that have been sampled.  These marked fish allow DNR staff to track fish movement and growth.  Wisconsin anglers are encouraged to report tagged Upper St. Croix River sturgeon to Wisconsin DNR in Spooner.  Please report the 5 digit dangler tag number, total length of the fish, approximate location caught, and date caught to Craig Roberts- Wisconsin DNR Fisheries biologist: 715-416-0351 or craig.roberts@wisconsin.gov . 

CHIPPEWA, EAU CLAIRE, DUNN AND PEPIN COUNTIES

Lower Chippewa River - The Lower Chippewa River (Lake Holcombe downstream to the Mississippi River) offers anglers an opportunity to harvest a lake sturgeon greater than 60 inches during the hook-and-line season, which runs from the first Saturday in September though the end of the month.  If an angler intends to harvest a fish, they must first purchase a harvest tag and, if successful, register their catch. Fifteen lake sturgeon were harvested in the 2020 season, which is slightly above the long-term average of 12 since the 60” minimum has been in place.  The majority of the harvest occurred downstream of the last two dams on the lower Chippewa River.  Anglers also reported catching numerous sublegal fish.  Night crawlers or cut bait presented in deep holes of the river is a good combination for a successful sturgeon fishing trip.  Anglers are asked to report tagged sturgeon, which helps biologists better manage this population. - Joseph Gerbyshak – Fisheries biologist, Eau Claire

SAUK COUNTY

Lower Wisconsin River - 2.7 miles; Prairie du Sac Dam to US Highway 12 bridge. The lower Wisconsin River is home to a healthy population of Lake Sturgeon.  Abundance of adult Lake Sturgeon (≥ 50 inches) in the tailwater below the Prairie du Sac Dam has averaged 183 fish since 2005 (range 100-315) based on annual fall population surveys.  Angler harvest of Lake Sturgeon from the lower Wisconsin River has averaged 8 fish annually since 2007 (range 2-15).  Anglers also catch and release a lot of sub-legal sturgeon, and angler catch rates at times exceed 2 fish per hour based on a hook and line survey conducted in 2020. The minimum length limit is 60 inches and the bag limit is one fish per season.  The hook and line fishing season runs from the first Saturday in September through September 30. Access information: Several public boat landings exist in the Prairie du Sac area including the VFW Park which has two launching lanes and a floating pier.  Shore fishing is available at VFW Park as well as the Alliant Energy property below the Prairie du Sac Dam and August Derleth Park in Sauk City. - Nathan Nye, Fisheries Biologist – Poynette

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INLAND TROUT

BARRON COUNTY

Turtle Creek. - There is an 8-mile stretch of Turtle Creek that is class II trout water, but some of the best trout water is from CTH D to the Silver Creek confluence.  The brook trout population in Turtle Creek is typically 150-400 trout per mile during electrofishing surveys.  With this moderate density of trout, the population is comprised of 6 to 12-inch brook trout, with the occasional fish up to 15 inches.  Trout are managed with a five fish daily bag limit. Anglers can access the stream from the parking areas off CTY D, 6th St, and 5 ½ St.  There are fishing piers off CTY D and 6th St.  This area is part of the Barron County forest.  Extensive instream habitat work was conducted on Turtle Creek between CTH D and 5 ½ St, and also upstream and downstream of the fishing pier off 6th St.  Catchable-sized brown trout are also stocked through this stretch before the fishing opener.

BUFFALO, JACKSON AND TREMPEALEAU COUNTIES

Area Trout Streams – Species population information:  based on results from 25 trout stream survey sites that were electrofished in summer of 2020. Reproduction: 64% of surveyed streams showed an increasing level of brook trout reproduction. Brown trout reproduction was stable to increasing in 100% of surveyed streams. Adults:  64% of surveyed streams showed decreasing catch rates of adult brook trout.  Brown trout adult catch rate was stable to increasing in 76% of surveyed streams. Brook Trout ≥ 10 inches: 80% of surveyed streams showed an increasing level of catchable sized brook trout. Brown Trout ≥ 12 inches: 88% of surveyed streams showed an increasing level of catchable sized brown trout.
Other Information:  Area adult trout populations were generally in good shape in 2020 with plenty of catchable sized fish heading into the 2021 season.  Survey results indicate stable to increasing numbers of larger, catchable- sized brook and brown trout heading into the spawning season.  Supplemental trout stocking from DNR and Cooperative hatcheries continues to bolster trout populations throughout the area.  A habitat restoration project on Elk Creek, Trempealeau County was continued this past year.  Many thanks to our partners in the Cooperative Trout Rearing program and Habitat Restoration program for providing more stocked fish, fishing access, and better habitat for our area streams! Regulation: Please see the Guide to Wisconsin Trout Fishing Regulations for applicable length and bag limit restrictions for the streams you fish.

BURNETT COUNTY

North Fork of the Clam River. - Approximately 17 miles of Class 1–3 trout water. This stream supports good natural reproduction for both brook and brown trout.  2019 and 2020 surveys found a 6-inch brook trout average with 63% above five inches (max length: 11.4 inch) and a 7-inch brown trout average with 19% above 9 inches (max length: 19.0 inch).  Current Regulation: no minimum length limit, 5 fish bag limit. Access: A large portion of the river is within the Clam River Fishery Area in Southeastern Burnett County and provides public access via parking spots, trails, and at bridge crossings. This link provides maps of the area: http://devlwww.dnr.state.wi.us/topic/Lands/

COLUMBIA AND SAUK COUNTIES

Baraboo Hills area streams are an ancient mountain range and home to several small streams with self-sustaining brook trout populations.  Many of the Baraboo Hills streams have unique habitats composed of series of high gradient riffles interspersed with numerous step pools and cobble and boulder substrates.  By contrast, a few of the streams drain sandy lowland areas with cover provided by undercut banks, overhanging grass and occasional deep bends.  Fishery surveys of these streams by DNR in 2020 found the highest Brook Trout abundances in Boulder Creek (2,361 fish/mile), Manley Creek (1,465 fish/mile), and Prentice Creek (1,321 fish/mile).  The highest abundances of Brook Trout larger than 10 inches were found in Manley Creek (97 fish/mile), Leech Creek (32 fish/mile), and Otter Creek (15 fish/mile). Current Regulation: Varies by stream; see 2021-22 Wisconsin Guide to Trout Fishing Regulations for full details Access information: Public access to Baraboo Hills streams is offered via streambank easements (Leech Creek, Rowley Creek), State Natural Areas (Parfrey’s Glen Creek, Otter Creek), the Baraboo Hills Recreation Area (Boulder Creek), Devils Lake State Park (Clark Creek, Manley Creek), The Riverland Conservancy (Manley Creek), and The Nature Conservancy (Otter Creek). - Nathan Nye, Fisheries biologist – Poynette

DANE COUNTY

Black Earth Creek. - For an inland trout angler looking for a fishing opportunity with lots of variety to offer, Black Earth Creek has over 27 miles of trout water located in Dane County stretching from Middleton to Mazomanie.  In 2019 stream assessments were conducted showing brown trout populations from low to moderate densities ranging from 12”-18” in the lower parts of the river and much higher density, generally lower sizes found in the headwater areas in and around Cross Plains. With many road crossings and Fishery Areas to access to the stream, anglers can find a variety of places to fish from groomed parks to wild and wooly stretches of river to cast a fly or drag a worm or spinner. US HWY 14 upstream to South Valley Road is 1 daily limit and trout must be 18”, all other classified water is county base regulations of 8” minimum, 3 daily bag limit. 

DOUGLAS COUNTY

Balsam, Little Balsam, and Empire Creeks. Balsam Creek – Class 1, 2, and 3 – 22.29 miles; Little Balsam Creek – 4.56 miles, Class 1; Empire Creek - 4.66 miles, Class 1. Recent surveys on all three streams at multiple sites: Balsam Creek brook trout densities ranged from 6 to 840 per mile, Little Balsam Creek brook trout densities ranged from 20 to 296 per mile, and  Empire Creek brook trout densities ranged from 102 to 238 per mile. Current regulation: Open season: First Saturday in May to September 30th.  Daily bag limit: 5 trout in total, only 2 of which may be Brown trout over 15” and only 1 of which may be a Rainbow trout.  Minimum length limit: Brook trout 8”, Brown trout 10”, and Rainbow trout 26”. Access to these streams can be found at road-streams crossings on town or county roads and ATV trails, anglers willing to bush-whack can find access to these streams through Douglas County Forest lands. Anglers searching for brook trout and some solitude in a wooded stream setting can try Balsam, Little Balsam and Empire Creeks all located south of the City of Superior.  All three streams are relatively small, low to moderate density brook trout streams that offer a variety of fishing opportunities.  Empire Creek is the smallest of these streams and is better suited for anglers accustomed to fishing tight quarters with spinning gear.  Balsam and Little Balsam Creeks are larger and offer opportunities for spin fishing or fly fishing with a short 2 to 4-weight fly rod.  In addition to brook trout, anglers fishing Balsam and Little Balsam Creeks might also catch rainbow trout that are the offspring of wild spring run steelhead as well as an occasional brown trout that has strayed from other Nemadji River tributaries in Minnesota.  

IOWA COUNTY

Rock Branch. -  4.23 miles. Rock Branch in Iowa County has a productive Brown Trout fishery and is the only classified (class 2) trout water in the Brewery Creek sub-watershed. Recent stream surveys upstream of Suthers road and STH 23 produced a mean relative abundance of 362 Brown Trout per mile (above the Driftless Area median of 252 Brown Trout per mile). Fish over 8 inches also averaged 191 per mile, also greater than the Driftless Area median of 133 per mile. Average length was 7.7 inches with a maximum of 17.2 inches. Streambank easement access is publicly accessible for .55 miles upstream of Suthers Rd. Current Regulation: 3 trout in total over 8 inches. Access information: Streambank easement access along .55 miles of Rock Branch at Suthers Rd. - Justin Haglund, Fisheries biologist – Dodgeville

IRON COUNTY

East Fork Chippewa River. - For an inland trout angler looking for a remote fishing opportunity, the East Fork of the Chippewa River provides a little over 5 miles of trout water located in the southwestern portion of the Iron County forest.   In 2019 stream assessments were conducted showing brook trout populations from low to moderate densities ranging from 5”-8”.  With road crossings limited, access to the stream will be a difficult at best but will provide trout fishing in an area very few have traveled.  There is no gear restrictions and the daily bag is 5 with no length limit.  

MARINETTE COUNTY

South Branch Pike River. - Population information: Approximately 3,300 yearling brown trout (8-inch average) are stocked across 3 locations.  Stream bank brushing and maintenance of existing foot paths is being considered.  
Total stream length = 25.3 miles; Class 1 – 2.9 miles; Class 2 – 15.1 miles; Class 3 – 7.3 miles. Current regulation: First Saturday in May to October 15 = 3-fish/bag: 8-inch minimum length limit. Access information:  Almost all of the South Branch Pike River is within public ownership (County and State).  Numerous road/stream crossings provide good access.

PORTAGE AND WAUPACA COUNTIES

Emmons Creek. - 7.7 miles, which originates in Portage County and flows into the Chain O’ Lakes. Trend and rotation surveys performed in Emmons Creek in 2019, yielded brown trout ranging from 2.5-15.5” and averaged 6.2-6.8”.   Around 21-31% of the adult population were 9” or larger depending on location in the stream.  Generally, the stream reaches with greater percentages of smaller brown trout are primarily found in upstream areas and in small tributaries, since these habitats tend be most suitable for juvenile brown trout. The relative abundances of 6” or larger brown trout were 330-1070 fish/mile, which ranks at the 55th-90th percentiles and considered moderate- to high-density populations when compared to Wisconsin trout classification standards. Current regulation: No minimum length limit with a 5-daily bag limit (Green Harvest Regulation) Access information: Emmons Creek Fishery Area covers more than half of the length of Emmons Creek and provides some of the best access opportunities for anglers.  This is particularly so in the upstream locations.  Numerous parking areas can be found throughout the Fishery Area along Emmons Creek Road, Fountain Lake Avenue, Stratton Lake Road, and 3rd Ave.  Access opportunities become less available as you move downstream toward Long Lake.  When no public land is available, road crossings become the primary means for access in these lower reaches. Emmons Creek has a naturalized brown trout population.  The population entirely sustained via natural reproduction and supplemental stocking is performed. Emmons Creek offers both a high-density brown trout fishery in the upstream habitats and it also supports a unique potadramous (lake-run) brown trout fishery in the Waupaca Chain of Lakes.  Few inland lake-run browns occur that we know of in Wisconsin.  Fish that used the two-story habitat of the Chain O’ Lakes will spawn every Fall.  Resident brown trout in the upstream populations are not nearly as large as the lake-run browns.  In the past, Emmons Creek migrating brown trout population was well-studied in past and historically a weir was setup measure the migrations to and from the lake for spawning purposes. Additionally, there are considerable groundwater inputs into Emmons Creek and it has one of the more stable baseflows in the Central Sand Hills.  Beyond the typical groundwater inflows that are typically occurring along the bottom of the stream, there are also numerous connected springs and spring ponds contributing to Emmons Creek.  

PRICE, RUSK AND TAYLOR COUNTIES

Catchable-trout waters. - Each year the DNR stocks catchable-size yearling trout and larger brood trout retired from their role in hatchery production to offer put-and-take fishing opportunity in many lakes and streams scattered across our 3-county management area.  Located just off State Highway 182 about 15 miles east of Park Falls, Patterson Lake is a popular destination for local and visiting anglers who hope to hook some of the 3,840 yearling (9”) and 200 brood-size (12” and 18”) brook trout or the 310 brood-size (11” and 18”) rainbow trout stocked each spring and fall.  Nearby, Camp Four Springs and Twin Lakes receive 500 and 1,300 yearling brook trout each spring with 100 more 12” brook trout delivered to Twin Lakes in fall.  The state-owned Niebauer Springs Fishery Area, 8 miles northwest of Phillips, gets 680 yearling brook trout in spring.   Anglers eagerly await safe ice conditions to fish for the 170 brown trout (18”) and 140 rainbow trout (14 and 19”) brought to Bass Lake west of Weyerhaeuser each fall.  The 2-acre pond adjacent to Fire Lane Road in the Rusk County Forest that is locally called Devils Creek Trout Pond receives 100 rainbow trout (9”) in spring.  We temporarily suspended trout stocked into Corbett Lake in downtown Ladysmith until local groups can complete planned water quality and habitat improvements.  In Taylor County Camp Eight Flowage, 7 miles east of Rib Lake, receives 200 yearling rainbow trout and Spruce Lake, 18 miles west of Medford, gets 900 yearling brook trout in spring.  Spruce Lake and Camp Eight Flowage each receive 120 large rainbow trout (11” and 18”) in fall.  A decline in trout fishing popularity resulted in fewer trout stocked in fewer streams, but DNR continues to annually stock yearling brown trout into Butternut Creek (530), Douglas Creek (530), and Spirit River (660) and 350 yearling brook trout into Smith Creek in Price County.  In Taylor County DNR stocks 360 brook trout yearlings in Mink Creek, tributary to Mondeaux Flowage, and the Taylor County Sportsman’s Association usually stocks a mix of 800 brook, brown, and rainbow trout into the Black River below the millpond in downtown Medford for the fishing season opener.

Wild trout waters. - Anglers seeking wild trout can find excellent opportunity in Wood Creek and the Big Rib River in Taylor County and in South Fork Main Creek in Rusk County—perhaps our top-rated streams for both the size and the number of trout they produce.  Each has native brook trout and introduced brown trout sustained by natural reproduction.  Our late summer 2020 electrofishing surveys found brook trout in low population abundance in Douglas Creek, Newman Creek, and North Fork Spirit River in Price County and Deer Creek in Rusk County.  The U.S. Forest Service has installed brush bundles to decrease channel width and increase its depth and velocity to improve trout habitat and trout production in Newman Creek. Most trout waters in Price, Rusk and Taylor counties are under the “green” category of harvest regulations where anglers may keep 5 trout in total of any length.  Special regulations apply to South Fork Main Creek, Wood Creek, Big Rib River, Bass Lake, and a handful of other waters—check the current Guide to Wisconsin Trout Fishing Regulations for details.  In lakes and ponds the open season runs from 5:00 a.m. on May 1, 2021 through March 6, 2022.  The trout fishing season for streams opens at the same time, and it closes on October 15.  All waters are accessible from public boat landings, public lands, or the public road right-of-way. —Jeff Scheirer, Fisheries biologist, Park Falls

SAWYER COUNTY

Namekagon River. - Elsewhere in this forecast you can read about smallmouth bass fishing opportunities on the Namekagon River, but don’t overlook the trout fishery that exists there too! The best portions of the Namekagon to catch brown trout are between Hayward and Cable, with numerous access points on Hwy 63 and offshoot roads. The river has been producing strong year classes of brown trout since 2017, including a 2019 class that was about 4x larger than the 10 year average, meaning catch rates in the river right now have been great. Top end size for browns is around 22-24 inches, with 12 to 16-inch fish being relatively common. Anglers can target trout effectively with fly fishing or spinning gear, but the there is an “artificials only” regulation in place. The early catch and release season (January-April) can be a great time to fish the Namekagon, particularly with nymphs. The minimum length limit is 14 inches and the daily bag limit is 1 during the regular season.

VERNON, LA CROSSE AND MONROE COUNTIES

Coon Creek and its tributaries. - Coon Creek, Bohemian Valley Creek, Rulland’s Coulee Creek, Spring Coulee Creek, and Timber Coulee Creek. The Coon Creek watershed is well known for the long history of DNR trout habitat restoration and an abundance of trout. Since the historic flood of 2018, trout habitat in the watershed has continued to recover. Natural recovery of trout habitat has occurred rapidly over the past two years throughout the watershed, particularly in reaches where livestock grazing has been light. In the past year, the DNR Habitat crew has also worked to speed up trout habitat recovery on Bohemian Valley Creek, completing over one mile of trout habitat restoration on the stream alone. Anglers continue to report excellent brown trout fishing on Coon Creek and its many excellent tributaries, which is also reflected by high-densities and good sizes of brown trout captured in annual electrofishing surveys on the stream. Current regulation: Varies by waterbody, see the trout regulation pamphlet Access information: The upper Coon Creek Watershed has many miles of angler streambank easement, which provide fantastic access to most of the streams in the watershed. Streambank easements are purchased by the DNR from private landowners and provide angler access along the stream banks and the DNR access to complete trout stream habitat restoration. To view the locations of public streambank easements in Wisconsin go to dnr.wi.gov and search “Public Access Lands Map” or “TROUT tool”. A variety of angling regulations are in place in the Coon Creek Watershed. These regulations are aimed at providing a variety of trout angling opportunities and gives the DNR the ability to evaluate the effectiveness of various trout regulations. In 2016, the DNR enacted an experimental regulation on Bohemian Valley Creek (10 bag, no minimum length limit) to evaluate whether anglers could reduce densities and improve growth rates of trout. 

VERNON COUNTY

West Fork Kickapoo River and its tributaries. -  West Fork Kickapoo River, Knapp Creek, Seas Branch, Maple Dale, Harrison Creek, and Unnamed Tributaries. With nearly 70 miles of classified trout water, the West Fork Kickapoo River Watershed contains an abundance of trout fishing opportunities. Thanks to improvements in agricultural practices coupled with increased annual precipitation over the past 75 years, groundwater levels have increased and continue to increase throughout the watershed. Improved groundwater discharge into streams, along with habitat restoration and wild trout stocking efforts, have allowed naturally reproducing populations of brown and brook trout to expand throughout the watershed. For example, multiple headwater streams, which ran dry less than 10 years ago, now have stable flows and support excellent populations of naturally reproduced brook and brown trout. In a recent watershed-wide survey, where 35 sites were sampled between 2018 and 2020, 78% of sites had naturally reproduced brown trout densities exceeding the statewide median, reflecting the excellent fishing opportunities throughout the watershed.  Although uncommon, trophy brook (>14”) and brown trout (>20”) are also present in the watershed and are caught every year by anglers. Current regulation: Varies by waterbody, see the trout regulation pamphlet Access information: The DNR holds several miles of streambank easement as well as state owned properties in the West Fork Kickapoo River watershed. To view access points and locations of public lands go to dnr.wi.gov and search “Public Access Lands Map”.  Brown trout removal efforts continue on Maple Dale Creek, a small headwater stream in the West Fork Kickapoo Watershed, in hopes of restoring brook trout populations there.  Abundance of catchable-size brook trout in Maple Dale Creek has increased six-fold since 2019, when removals began, with some brook trout exceeding 13”. All brook trout caught in the stream must be released.

WAUPACA AND PORTAGE COUNTIES

Radley Creek - 11.5 miles of Class I trout water. Brown trout population information:  Radley Creek supports a high-density brown trout population that provides a great action fishery for interested anglers. The DNR conducts an annual survey of Radley Creek just upstream from WI HWY 22. Over the last 10 years, brown trout catch rates in this survey have averaged 936 brown trout per mile of electrofishing. The majority of the brown trout captured in most years are between 5–10 inches, but brown trout >12 inches have been captured in each of the last 10 years, with brown trout >15 inches being captured in 4 of the last 10 years. Current regulation:  Yellow stream with a daily bag limit of 3 trout in total and a minimum length limit of 8 inches.  Access information: Anglers can access the majority of Radley Creek via one of the parcels of Radley Creek Fishery Area. Radley Creek Fishery Area consists of 1,400+ acres of state-owned land with parcels that start near the confluence with the Crystal River and extend all the way to the headwaters in Portage County. Please visit the DNR Public Access Lands Publication for maps of all of the parcels that make up Radley Creek Fishery Area.  Significant trout habitat enhancements have been completed along Radley Creek over the last 10 years including fishability brushing and invasive plant removal along the stream banks, repositioning fallen trees in the stream to allow for better stream flow and sediment transport as well as help to stabilize stream banks, adding brush bundles to provide juvenile trout habitat and stabilize stream banks and creating overhead cover for adult trout. Radley Creek also supports a low-density brook trout fishery. Anglers interested in catching brook trout should fish in the upper sections of Radley Creek. 

WAUSHARA COUNTY

Willow Creek. - 28.2 miles of trout water (Class 1 = 11.9 miles, Class 2 = 16.3 miles) Brown trout population information: Willow Creek supports a good-density brown trout population that can provide action with the chance of a trophy fish. The DNR conducts an annual survey of Willow Creek just downstream of Blackhawk Road. Over the last 10 years, brown trout catch rates in this survey have averaged 595 brown trout per mile of electrofishing.  The majority of the brown trout captured in most years are between 6–12 inches, but the catch rate of brown trout over 15 inches is in the 84th percentile over the last 5 years .  Current regulation:  Yellow stream with a daily bag limit of 3 trout in total and a minimum length limit of 8 inches.  Access information: Anglers can access the majority of Willow Creek via one of the many parcels of the Willow Creek Fishery Area. Willow Creek Fishery Area consists of 2,172 acres of state-owned land. Please visit the DNR Public Access Lands Publication for maps of all the parcels that make up the Willow Creek Fishery Area.  
Interesting fact: Significant trout habitat enhancements have been completed along Willow Creek over the years including fishability brushing and invasive plant removal along the stream banks, repositioning fallen trees in the stream to allow for better stream flow and sediment transport as well as help to stabilize stream banks.  Brush bundles have been added to provide juvenile trout habitat and stabilize stream banks.  Willow Creek also supports a low-density brook trout fishery. Anglers interested in catching brook trout should fish in the upper sections of Willow Creek or in the lower sections near the confluence of Bruce and Cedar Springs Creeks. 

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ROUGH FISH

LINCOLN COUNTY

Jersey City Flowage – 404 acres with 17.2 miles of shoreline.  Want to catch a hard-fighting, toothy native predator that is often misunderstood?  Give bowfin (dogfish) in the Jersey City Flowage a try.  We did a comprehensive survey there in 2015 and found a high density and high-size-quality population.  Almost all of the bowfin we caught were over 20” (98%) and 32% were over 25” with 2% over 30”!  While I realize that this survey data is six years old, bowfin have been known to live to 30 years!  Therefore, I feel confident that the Jersey Flowage still has plenty of dogfish to pursue! The dam to form this flowage on the Tomahawk River was built in 1910 to supply power for a tannery.  What I couldn’t find with a computer search, was how this flowage/area got its name.  If anyone has the story on how this area and flowage got the name “Jersey City”, please contact the Fisheries Biologist in Antigo. Thanks.

SAWYER COUNTY

Big Chetac Lake. - Are you mostly a catch and release angler? Do you like catching big, hard-fighting fish? Then maybe it’s time to buck some norms, get over whatever bad press you’ve heard, and start fishing for bowfin. It’s shocking that this armor-plated prehistoric species doesn’t get more respect. If you’re ready to take on the challenge of wrangling with these Triassic torpedos, Big Chetac in Sawyer County is a good place to start. Chetac is well-known for many other species, deservedly so, but it also has a great bowfin population. A survey in 2018 found bowfin up to 28 inches, with many on the 20 to 26-inch range. Bowfin can be found in Chetac’s shallow weedy bays all summer long and can be targeted with most traditional bass or pike lures. There are no harvest restrictions on bowfin, but they are not known to be great table fare. Chetac has a public boat launch off of Old Hayes Road. 


LAKE WHITEFISH

ASHLAND, BAYFIELD, IRON AND DOUGLAS COUNTIES

Lake Superior. - In recent years, anglers have been harvesting more Lake Whitefish in Lake Superior than ever recorded. The increasing popularity of the shallow-water ice fishery and open-water whitefish jigging has resulted in a high level of angler effort targeting this species, and therefore, higher levels of harvest. Most anglers target Lake Whitefish in Chequamegon Bay, but these fish are also very abundant in the Apostle Islands region where they can be targeted when conditions allow. The average length of Lake Whitefish harvested in Lake Superior is generally around 19 inches, with several measuring over 25 inches each year. Lake Whitefish that primarily reside within Chequamegon Bay actually grow faster than those that primarily live in the Apostle Islands. The average-sized Lake Whitefish caught in Chequamegon Bay is likely 10 years of age or older, and whitefish up to 25 years old are often observed in the area. Abundance of Lake Whitefish is currently much higher in Wisconsin waters of Lake Superior than in the 1970’s and 1980’s. Abundance increased throughout the 1990’s to a peak in 2000 and has slightly declined or stabilized since. There is a large harvestable surplus of Lake Whitefish in the Apostle Islands region for both sport and commercial fishing. Growth rates of Lake Whitefish have decreased since the peak in abundance in 2000, and ongoing research may help us learn more about this important fishery. Ice conditions on Lake Superior are often variable and can change in the blink of an eye. So, we recommend a cautious approach to your ice fishing trips or including an angler who is knowledgeable about local ice conditions in your fishing party. Current regulation: Lake Whitefish in Lake Superior have a daily bag limit of 10 and no length limit, and the season is open all year. Access information: Popular public access points for this fishery include Second Landing and Kreher Park in Ashland; Washburn Coal Dock and Washburn Marina; Bayfield Municipal Boat Landing, and Legendary Waters Boat Ramp in Red Cliff.  Public Boat Landings can be found at https://dnr.wi.gov/topic/Beaches/documents/BeachBoatLaunches.pd

DOOR, KEWAUNEE AND BROWN COUNTIES

Green Bay waters. - Lake whitefish continue to provide much of the action for ice anglers on Green Bay since their major entry into the sport fishery over 10 years ago.  The bulk of the fishing takes place along the east shore at locations between Dyckesville and Sturgeon Bay; although areas along the west shore provide action as well.  Angler harvest has dropped considerably during the last two ice seasons, although the 2018 harvest was the highest on record; estimated at nearly 200,000 fish.  Anglers will likely see fish from the record high 2015 year class begin to enter the sport fishery this season. Current regulation:  The bag limit for lake whitefish is 10 fish with no length limit. Access information: There are a number of access points between Dyckesville and Sturgeon Bay.  Anglers can refer to a map of the area for boat launch sites or go to: http://dnr.wi.gov/topic/lands/boataccess for a listing of some of the launches in the area.  Anglers are advised to check ahead locally for ice conditions before venturing out.    In 2017 and 2018 more than 8,600 whitefish from several stocks were tagged during the November spawning season in the Fox and Menominee Rivers, North/Moonlight Bays areas on the Lake Michigan side of Door County, and Big Bay de Noc in northern Green Bay.  Tag recovery data to date indicate that most river-tagged whitefish do not leave Green Bay.  In fact, few Fox River-tagged fish stray north of Chambers Island.  While fish tagged in the North/Moonlight Bay area mainly stay in Lake Michigan, though a small proportion move into northern Green Bay.  To date all tagged fish recovered during the November spawning period were recaptured in the same location that they were tagged, suggesting high spawning site fidelity.

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GREAT LAKES TROUT AND SALMON

ASHLAND, BAYFIELD, IRON AND DOUGLAS COUNTIES

Lake Superior. - Lake Trout is the most popular species that anglers target in the Apostle Islands and Western Arm regions of Lake Superior. Results from our annual Lake Superior creel survey showed that anglers had a great year catching and harvesting Lake Trout, and we anticipate the same in 2021. Total Lake Trout harvest in management unit WI-2 (Apostle Islands region) increased from 2019 and ended above the average total harvest since 2006. Lake Superior charter captains and clientele caught more “lakers” in 2020 than any year in the past two decades in the Apostle Islands. Wisconsin waters of Lake Superior support the most productive fisheries in the entire lake. However, Lake Trout roaming these waters are long-lived (some trout documented over 50 years old!) and slow-growing, which means they require a little more protection than most fisheries to prevent overharvest. So, we use the best data and science available to our team to set harvest limits for the fishery. The 2021 Lake Trout quota in WI-2 will be slightly reduced from 2020 to help maintain a stable population size, but the WI-1 (Western Arm) quota will remain the same as the previous season. The average length of harvested Lake Trout in Lake Superior is generally around 22 inches due to size regulations outlined below, but 35 and 40-inch trophy Lake Trout are often caught and released in Lake Superior. July and August are the most popular months to troll for Lake Trout, and several “sport-fishing only” zones exist to help anglers avoid commercial fishing nets. As ice thickens into deeper areas of the Apostle Islands, anglers enjoy great Lake Trout ice fishing, or deep-water “bobbing”, in mid-late winter months. Our team continues to tag thousands of Lake Trout each year during assessments. So, if you ever come across a tagged Lake Trout in Lake Superior, be sure to relay the tag number to the Bayfield DNR Office to learn the often-fascinating history about the fish you just caught.  Current regulation: The Lake Trout season is open from December 1 through September 30. 15-inch minimum length limit, but only 1 over 25 inches. West of Bark Point (WI-1): bag limit of 3; East of Bark Point (WI-2): bag limit of 2. The Lake Trout season may be closed early if the annual quota is reached prior to the regular season closure date. Access information: Main access locations can be found in Superior, Port Wing, Cornucopia, Little Sand Bay, Red Cliff, Bayfield, Washburn, Ashland, and Saxon, WI. Saxon Harbor was fully renovated and was operational for the 2020 fishing season. Public Boat Landings can be found at https://dnr.wi.gov/topic/Beaches/documents/BeachBoatLaunches.pdf. - Dray Carl, Fisheries biologist, Lake Superior

DOUGLAS COUNTY

Bois Brule River. - 44 miles total, 24.5 miles downstream of U.S. Highway 2. 7,691 wild Steelhead were counted passing the Brule River Sea Lamprey Barrier/Fishway from Fall 2019 through Spring 2020.  The fall migration makes up the majority of the steelhead run and peak steelhead migration occurred in early-October of 2019.  Seventy-seven percent of the total ranged from 20 to 25 inches and weighed three to five pounds. 6% exceeded the minimum length limit of 26 inches. Current regulation: Season is different for lower and upper river. Lower River: Downstream from U.S. Highway 2; Season: Open March 27 through November 15; Minimum length: 26 inches; Daily bag: 5 trout and salmon in total, only one may be a rainbow trout.  Upper River: Upstream from U.S. Highway 2; Season: Open May 1 to September 30.  Go to http://dnr.wi.gov/topic/StateForests/bruleriver/ and click on the “Maps and Pubs” tab. All access points only at designated areas in the Brule River State Forest. Easy access at many points, especially U.S. Highway 2, High Landing angler lot, Copper Range Campground, Pine Tree Canoe Landing, and State Highway 13. Steelhead runs on the Bois Brule, in fact on many Great Lakes tributary streams, are largely dependent on conditions on the lake and streams and these factors can greatly influence angler success.  Surface water temperature on the lake influences when steelhead enter tributary streams in both spring and fall.  Once steelhead enter tributary streams, precipitation or run-off from snow melt can increase water flow and reduce water clarity.  Water temperature will influence steelhead behavior and where fish stage in the river from the point when they enter the river until they complete spawning and head back to the lake.  Anglers can monitor these conditions to determine when and where to fish and what type of presentations might be more effective.  Steelhead anglers fishing the Bois Brule River during the fall 2020 run had slightly higher than average river flows but found relatively clear conditions through the duration of the fall steelhead run due to the lack of rainfall.  Knowledgeable steelhead anglers found success this past fall by employing finesse tactics to fool steelhead holding in clear water.  For fly anglers it meant drifting smaller trout-sized nymphs or soft hackle wet flies on indicator rigs while spin anglers used smaller, subdued spinning lures or live bait.  - Aaron Nelson, Fisheries technician, Superior.

MARINETTE, OCONTO AND DOOR COUNTIES

Green Bay and tributaries. - Fall 2020 fall shocking surveys in the lower Menominee River resulted in higher numbers of brown trout compared to recent years, with 38% being 29 inches or more. Those fish are probably 3 to 6 years old, while a Green Bay brown trout around 23 inches would likely be 2 years old. Brown trout stocked into the productive waters of Green Bay grow quickly. Lake Michigan harvest estimates for 2020 will be available in early 2021. Current regulation: Open all year. Daily limit is 5 trout/salmon in total. Minimum length is 10 inches. Access information: Anglers can troll for browns in the spring and summer months. There are numerous boat access locations along the shores of Green Bay. Check out this website for details. https://dnr.wi.gov/topic/lands/boataccess/. Brown trout make fall migratory runs into the Menominee, Peshtigo, and Oconto Rivers.  From late September into the winter months, shore anglers may have luck catching browns in these major tributaries.  Here is the website to find detailed tributary access information. https://dnr.wi.gov/topic/fishing/lakemichigan/TributaryAccess.html. From 2012 to 2019, DNR used the RV Coregonus to stock yearling brown trout offshore in Green Bay. In April 2020, due to COVID-19 issues, DNR did not stock brown trout offshore but instead fish were stocked directly into tributaries or harbors. Plans are to resume offshore stocking in spring 2021, pending resolution to the current pandemic. The goal is to increase survival of stocked brown trout, which are typically stocked in April when walleye are making their annual spawning runs into the large tributaries of the Bay. Since offshore stocking began, harvest rate has generally improved compared to the previous 8 years. Two exceptions are 2013 and 2014, which were late ice-out springs that prevented early season nearshore trolling for brown trout.

LAKE MICHIGAN AND TRIBUTARIES

CHINOOK SALMON

Chinook salmon provide fantastic fishing opportunities on Lake Michigan, recently with prospects for big fish.  Chinook or king salmon are among the biggest of Lake Michigan’s salmonids.  The average weight of age-3 female Chinooks at the Strawberry Creek spawning facility in Sturgeon Bay reached a record high of 21.9 pounds in 2018, and remained high but decreased slightly to 21.7 pounds in 2019.  These are impressively big fish, especially considering low and variable weights from 2004-2015, with record lows in 2007 (10.7 pounds) and 2012 (11.9 pounds).  During 2020 at the Besadny Anadromous Fisheries Facility in Kewaunee, weights of all Chinook were 2.8 to 30.1 pounds (avg 15.5) and lengths were 21.0 to 44.5 inches (avg 34.4).  Recent increases in fish size can be attributed partly to stocking adjustments, which improved the balance of predators/prey, and allowed for fewer but bigger Chinooks.  Looking ahead, Chinook stocking increased in 2020 from 810,000 in 2019 to 1.2 million (2020-2022), and it’ll be informative for anglers and biologists alike to see if Chinook size remains big. There’s one good way to find out – and that’s to get out there and catch some fish!  So whether fishing by boat or pier for silver Chinooks, or from shore during fall spawning runs on one of Wisconsin’s many tributary streams, 2021 should provide outstanding opportunity for Chinook salmon fishing on Lake Michigan. Current regulation: Open all year.  Five fish daily bag limit (total trout and salmon).  Ten-inch minimum length limit. Access information: Many boat and shore access locations are available (https://dnr.wi.gov/topic/lands/boataccess/, https://dnr.wi.gov/topic/fishing/lakemichigan/TributaryAccess.html).

COHO SALMON

The Coho salmon fishing season typically starts in the warmer southern waters of Lake Michigan and then progresses northward all the way to Sheboygan waters.  Coho fishing was below average in 2019 when anglers harvested an estimated 32,197 coho (10-year average harvest of 81,883). In 2019, coho were quality size with reports of several large fish. Weather patterns caused coho to be in deeper water than normal during their migration north which played a role in decreased catches. In 2020, there were no creel surveys prior to Memorial day and limited creel surveys that began in July. Many of the large coho catches occur earlier in the year so it is difficult to judge the 2020 harvest. Coho salmon are spawned at both the Root River Steelhead Facility (RRSF) in Racine and the C.D. “Buzz” Besadny Anadromous Fish Facility (BAFF) in Kewaunee. In 2020, approximately 1,500 coho were captured at the RRSF and 1,800 were captured at BAFF. Between the 2 facilities, over 1.2 million eggs were taken to help achieve the 2021 goal of stocking 500,000 coho in Wisconsin waters of Lake Michigan. Current regulation: Open all year.  Five fish daily bag limit (total trout and salmon).  Ten-inch minimum length limit. Access information: Many boat and shore access locations are available https://dnr.wi.gov/topic/lands/boataccess/. https://dnr.wi.gov/topic/fishing/lakemichigan/fallfishing.html. https://dnr.wi.gov/topic/fishing/lakemichigan/TributaryAccess.html. https://dnr.wisconsin.gov/sites/default/files/topic/Fishing/LM_StockingSummary2020.pdf

LAKE TROUT

Lake Michigan provides fantastic fishing opportunities for salmon and trout, including lake trout, supported by stocking and natural reproduction.  A total of 34,197 lake trout were harvested in 2019 lake-wide, which was 35% over the ten-year average harvest.  Anglers from Kenosha to Sheboygan reported high catches of lake trout, accounting for 83% of the total lake trout harvest for Wisconsin in Lake Michigan for 2019.  The average size of lake trout harvested in 2019 was 27.3 inches and 10.1 pounds.  Current regulation: Starting January 1, 2021 the season and bag limit will revert to previous regulations.  The season will be open from March 1, 2021 through October 31, 2021, with a daily bag limit of 2 lake trout and a minimum length of 10 inches.  The Mid-Lake Reef Complex is a refuge for lake trout.  No lake trout may be targeted or possessed within the boundaries of the Mid-Lake Reef Complex.  We are currently working on lake trout regulations that will hopefully be changed back to 5 fish per day and a continuous open season sometime in early summer. Access information: There are numerous boat and shore access locations to fish.
https://dnr.wi.gov/topic/lands/boataccess/. https://dnr.wi.gov/topic/fishing/lakemichigan/fallfishing.html
https://dnr.wi.gov/topic/fishing/lakemichigan/TributaryAccess.html. In Fall 2018 and 2019, anglers had success catching lake trout in the Milwaukee and Sheboygan Rivers.  In 2006, lake trout that were intended to be stocked on offshore spawning reefs were stocked nearshore due to high wind conditions on the lake.  These fish were marked with a fin-clip, which has allowed biologists to determine that anglers catching lake trout in the river in the fall are catching this year-class of lake trout.  These fish are now 15 years old, and will likely continue to return to Lake Michigan tributaries in the fall under high water. 

STEELHEAD

Steelhead are a rainbow trout that locally reside in Lake Michigan but run upstream into tributaries for spawning, and while we know some about steelhead biology and fisheries already, we’ll learn much more in coming years thanks to the Great Lakes Mass Marking Program.  Management strategies to enhance steelhead fishing in Wisconsin include stocking different genetic strains (Chambers Creek, Ganaraska, and Skamania), stocking over 20 tributaries along the lakeshore (including big and little rivers), and stocking different regions (north, south, and Green Bay).  DNR stocks many steelhead, including 350,000 in 2019 and 460,000 annually for 2020-2022.  But what strains of stocked steelhead do anglers catch most?  Do big or little river stocking events contribute better to the fishery?  Are there regional differences in stocking effectiveness?  Also, what age are steelhead when caught, do they swim throughout the lake, and how many are wild? These are all questions we hope to answer very soon, because all yearling steelhead stocked in 2018, 2019, and 2020 were fin clipped (adipose fin removed) and tagged internally with a tiny (1 mm) coded wire tag by the United States Fish and Wildlife Service.  So 2021 will be an exciting year for steelhead – many lake and stream fishing prospects await, along with new opportunity to catch steelhead that will now be 2-4 years old with coded wire tags.  Collections of data and tags from steelhead by anglers, USFWS, and DNR will greatly enhance our knowledge of steelhead, an important species and contributor to Lake Michigan’s valuable and diverse fishery. Current regulation: Open all year.  Five fish daily bag limit (total trout and salmon).  Ten-inch minimum length limit. Access information: Many boat and shore access locations are available (http://dnr.wi.gov/topic/lands/boataccess/, https://dnr.wi.gov/topic/fishing/lakemichigan/TributaryAccess.html).

 

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URBAN FISHING

KENOSHA, MILWAUKEE, OUTAGAMIE, OZAUKEE, RACINE, ROCK, SHEBOYGAN, WALWORTH, WASHINGTON AND WAUKESHA COUNTIES

Urban Fishing Waters include: Kenosha County: Anderson Park, Bong Children’s Pond; Milwaukee County: Brown Deer Park, Dineen Park, Estabrook Park, Franklin High School, Greenfield Park, Holler Park, Humboldt Park, Jackson Park, Juneau Park, Kosciuszko Park, McCarty Park, McGovern Park, Miller Park, Mitchell Park, Oak Creek Parkway, Saveland Park, Schoetz Park, Scout Lake, Sheridan Park, Washington Park, Wilson Park; Outagamie County: Appleton Memorial Pond; Ozaukee County: Harrington Beach Quarry, Mequon Rotary Park East and West, Pucketts Pond, Schowalter Park, Willow Brooke Park; Racine County: Gorney Park, Johnson Park, Lockwood Park, Pritchard Park, Quarry Lake, Reservoir Park; Rock County: Lions Park Pond; Sheboygan County: Kohler-Andrae State Park Pond, Sheboygan Quarry, Memorial Park, River Park Lagoon; Walworth County: Ceylon Lagoon, Congdon Park, Millpond Park Pond; Washington County: Boot Lake, Hartford Millpond, Homestead Hollow Park, Kewaskum Millpond, Regner Pond, Sandy Knoll Park, Wells Lake, Wiedenbach Park Pond; Waukesha County: Calhoun Park, Delafield Rearing Pond, Foxbrook Pond, Heyer Park North and South, Lapham Peak Pond, Lepper Dam Millpond, Lions Park-Overland, Menomonee Park, Minooka Park, Muskego Park, Nixon Park, Regal Park and Woodfield North and South. Lake size: Urban fishing waters are small lakes and ponds under 25 acres. Ponds are stocked annually with rainbow trout from the state hatchery system.  The average length is about 8 inches.  Normal stocking partnerships and collaborations will resume once the public health emergency has subsided. Current regulation: Designated urban waters have a year-round season, no length limits, and a special season (March 13 through April 23, 2021; March 12 through April 29, 2022) for juveniles 15 years of age and younger and certain disabled anglers. They also have a daily bag limit of three (3) trout, one (1) gamefish (largemouth bass, smallmouth bass, walleye, sauger, and northern pike), and ten (10) panfish (bluegill, crappie, pumpkinseed, yellow perch, and bullhead)  Access information: Shore fishing opportunities are found at all urban ponds. Stocking information is available seasonally on the Urban Waters Fishing Hotline at 414-263-8494 or toll free at 888-347-4563. Kids Clinics: Urban fishing waters are a great place to take kids fishing and many host free kids fishing clinics for both ice fishing and open water.  For clinic information, visit the angler education page on the DNR website (https://dnr.wi.gov/topic/Fishing/AnglerEducation/).  - Laura Schmidt, fisheries biologist, Milwaukee

LANGLADE COUNTY

Remington Pond – City of Antigo – 5 acres. Only juveniles 15 years of age and younger and certain disabled anglers may fish. Stocked with rainbow trout in the spring and brook trout in the fall. The Antigo Chapter of Trout Unlimited periodically stocks trout also for the kids to enjoy. Open year around – no length limit, 3 trout per day, 1 bass or northern pike per day, 10 panfish (bluegill, sunfish, crappie, perch, bullhead) per day. Fishing dock.

LINCOLN COUNTY

Mirror Lake – City of Tomahawk – 4 acres. Only juveniles 15 years of age and younger and certain disabled anglers may fish. Stocked with rainbow trout in the spring and brook trout in the fall. Open year around – no length limit, 3 trout per day, 1 bass or northern pike per day, 10 panfish (bluegill, sunfish, crappie, perch, bullhead) per day. Fishing dock.

SAWYER COUNTY

Thousands of people visit Hayward, Wisconsin each summer. Many are serious anglers, but some may be beginners or just curious about fishing. Shue’s Pond is in a small park located adjacent to downtown Hayward on 3rd and Kansas Street. There are picnic tables, a gazebo, and plenty of fishing access to the pond. Shue’s Pond is connected to Smith Lake Creek and Lake Hayward and it’s always full of panfish that are willing to bite. Shue’s is a great location for kids or families that want to try fishing in an easily accessible spot with good odds of catching some fish. There are several bait shops within a few blocks of the pond. Kids under 16 can fish for free, anyone 16 and older needs a license to fish. 

WASHINGTON COUNTY

Regner Park Pond - 2 acres. The pond is stocked annually with rainbow trout from the state hatchery system.  The City of West Bend also regularly stocks other species. Current regulation: Year-round season, no length limits, and a special season (March 13 through April 23, 2021; March 12 through April 29, 2022)) for juveniles 15 years of age and younger and certain disabled anglers. There is also a daily bag limit of three (3) trout, one (1) gamefish (largemouth bass, smallmouth bass, walleye, sauger, and northern pike), and ten (10) panfish (bluegill, crappie, pumpkinseed, yellow perch, and bullhead). Access information: (best access point(s), shorefishing opportunities, etc.) Regner Park, 800 N Main Street, West Bend, WI 53090 Regner Park Pond was recently dredged and fish habitat was added to improve the angling experience.  Other park amenities include trails, sports facilities and play areas, plus a summer swimming pond and winter ice rink.

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