Skip to main content

Fishing seasons

Fishing Wisconsin

2020-2021 fishing season dates

(Effective Date: April 1, 2020; Dates Inclusive)

Early inland trout (catch and release)
January 4 (5 a.m.) to May 1

General inland trout
May 2 (5 a.m.) to Oct. 15

General inland fishing
May 2 to March 7, 2021

Largemouth bass northern zone harvest
May 2 to March 7, 2021

Smallmouth bass northern zone harvest
June 20 to March 7, 2021

Large and smallmouth bass southern zone harvest
May 2 to March 7, 2021

Large and smallmouth bass catch and release
At all other times of the year.

Musky - northern zone
May 23 to Dec. 31

Musky - southern zone
May 2 to Dec. 31

Northern pike
May 2 to March 7, 2021

May 2 to March 7, 2021

Lake sturgeon
Sept. 5 to Sept. 30 (hook-and-line)

Free fishing weekends
June 6-7, 2020 (summer)
January 16-17, 2021 (winter)

Opening day for Wisconsin fishing is traditionally the first Saturday in May. Hook and line fishing for many fish species on many Wisconsin waters begins on that day. However, to better manage Wisconsin fisheries, season dates are often specific to the species of fish as well as the water body.

Dates for fishing seasons are organized alphabetically by fish species. This information is provided for general orientation only. You must refer to a copy of the current fishing regulations to learn about the fishing dates and guidelines for the water body on which you plan to fish.

For assistance on how to view this information, please refer to Using these Tables and the Definitions web pages that accompany these tables.

Fish species list

While these tables may be helpful in planning fishing trips, they are not meant as a substitute for the dates provided in the various fishing regulations. Also, please note that occasionally temporary or emergency rules are enacted that may change the fishing season dates for a species or waterbody. If that happens, please look for signs posted at boat landings.


Exceptions do exist. Not all Wisconsin waters follow the general dates for the hook and line or trout season. You must still consult the special county or boundary waters tables in the current Guide to Wisconsin hook and line fishing regulations to determine if any special season dates exist for the particular waters you plan to fish with hook and line.

If you are planning to fish for trout, you must consult the current Guide to Wisconsin trout fishing regulations for any exceptions. This is the only way to determine whether or not the waters you plan to fish follow the season dates for general inland waters.

Species Not Listed

Species not listed have no open season. For species that are listed, It is illegal to fish for those species during the closed season - this includes catch and release fishing! It is also illegal to take, transport, possess or sell within the state any wild animals specified by the DNR's endangered or threatened species list. Be sure to be familiar with the fish on this list.