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Fishing Regulations

Walleye on Rocks

Fishing regulations are used as a tool to ensure good fishing exists in the future. The department has used different types of fishing regulations to:

  • control angler impacts on fish populations;
  • maintain numbers and sizes of fish in a lake or stream;
  • provide different types of fishing experiences, such as fishing for dinner or for a trophy fish; and
  • make access to fishing as fair as possible.
Attention Lake Michigan anglers: Lake trout regulations on Lake Michigan have changed. Effective Jan. 1, 2021, the season will run from March 1 to Oct. 31 with a daily bag limit of two lake trout. These regulations may be subject to change so check back regularly. 

Catfish bow, crossbow and hand fishing regulations

Catfish and bullheads can be taken by bow, crossbow or by hand. The bow/crossbow season coincides with the rough fish spearing season in most cases. The hand fishing season runs from June 1 to August 31. For more detailed information, see the latest regulation fact sheet [PDF].

Online fishing regulations

Easy fishing! Put more fish on your line. We've made it easier to figure out what fishing regulations are on your favorite lake! Our searchable Guide to Wisconsin hook and line fishing regulations (exit DNR) lets you search by inland lakes, by lake name or county and includes an interactive map. Give it a try.


The Trout Regulations & Opportunities User Tool (TROUT) was designed to help trout anglers find places to fish. The TROUT application includes trout fishing regulations, classified trout waters, public land and DNR fishing easements.



People can fish year-round on some waters and for some species, but regulations set more limited open seasons for certain species and waters. Check our fishing seasons calendar as the seasons do not coincide with the calendar year.

A current fishing license for the 2021-2022 season is required on April 1, 2021.