Skip to main content Skip to main content

Wisconsin's Top 36 Fishing Trips

Wisconsin's Top 36 Fishing Trips

You would have to quit your job now to be able to fish all of our state's waters in your lifetime. But until that day comes, you can get started on your fishin' mission by following this calendar. (February 2007)

Living in Wisconsin, you are never far from an angling opportunity. There truly is no place like home. But sometimes it's nice to head on down the road for an hour or two just to see if the bass and walleyes are really greener on the other side of the county line.

You would have to quit your job today to fish all of our best waters in your lifetime. Therefore, with so many productive fishing waters in the Badger State, picking just three hotspots per month is no easy task. Bag limits, closed seasons and prevailing weather conditions all played a role in selecting the following fishin' missions.


JANUARY


Larsen's Reef Walleyes

This five-mile-long series of humps and bumps just outside of Sturgeon Bay has returned as one of our top winter walleye destinations, with jumbo perch being an added bonus.

Extreme caution is advised in navigating out there because of ice heaves. Don't forget your GPS and compass. White-out conditions can develop in a heartbeat.




Guide Andy Stuth has the large greenies dialed in. You can reach Stuth at (920) 559-2453. For lodging, contact the Door County Chamber of Commerce at (920) 743-4456.

Recommended


Delavan Lake Bluegills

Weeds are a key to ice a mess of these bulls. The west end and long bar off Lake Lawn Lodge are annual hotspots.

Pool No. 10 Crappies

Try a gold or purple Li'l Cecil in Ambro Slough or Big and Little Missouri sloughs on the Mississippi River just north of Cabela's. Be careful crossing a small creek on the way up to these backwaters. A January dunking is not a good thing.

FEBRUARY

Mississippi River Saugers

This walleye cousin stacks up by the thousands below lock-and-dam systems on our western border, with fish being active as soon as you can get out there to them.

A sensitive graphite rod and spinning reel spooled with no-stretch line like Berkley FireLine are major keys to success on the Mississippi River.

Be sure to check your boat, motor and trailer before heading out, and don't forget sand and a shovel to use at the slippery boat ramp!

For more information, Cap'n Hook's Bait at (608) 689-2800 or CaptainHooksStackle.com knows where the hot bite is every day.

Oak Creek Brown Trout

Troll Yo-Zuri Minnows and similar stick baits behind planer boards just down the lake from the access and Bender Park. Weather conditions are key to both success and safety. For more information, check out FishMeister.com.

Big Green Lake Trout

Our deepest inland lake provides a special opportunity for icing winter lakers, and guide Mike Norton makes it easy from one of his heated shanties. For more information, call (920) 295-3617, or go online to NortonsFishing.com.

MARCH

Wisconsin Dells Walleyes

A slot limit on Wisconsin River walleyes has resulted in fishing better than the good old days.

The biggest walleyes come at night here, and it's a great opportunity to catch a trophy wallhanger from the riverbank.

River's Edge Resort is walleye headquarters. Contact them at (608) 254-6494, or RiversEdgeResort.com.

Lac Vieux Desert Crappies

This Michigan boundary water is perhaps Wisconsin's most diverse fishery. Slab crappies get little notice here, but are present in both size and numbers. Contact Eagle Sports at (715) 479-8804, or visit them online EagleSportsCenter.com.

Tributary Steelhead

About four days after spring's first runoff, migrating rainbows chomp spawn sacs in Lake Michigan tributaries from Algoma to Kenosha. We're talking big fish and skinny water, so bring your waders.

APRIL

Fox River Walleyes

Probably your best shot at a trophy walleye in Wisconsin is here and now below the De Pere dam on the Fox River.

Best action is at night by throwing No. 13 Rapalas and Storm Thundersticks. But you won't be alone. This is probably the densest concentration of boating anglers per surface acre ever seen in the state. (Continued)

Launch at Voyageur Park just downstream from the dam. Be sure your navigation lights are working, you have a new fishing license, and that all other laws and rules are followed. If you keep your line in the water, you will hook a big fish. If this fish is foul-hooked, you will be ticketed if it is not released. Eyes are watching from everywhere.

For more information, e-mail rangerpat01@yahoo.com.

Menominee River Walleyes

About a week after most of the catch on the Fox River consists of suckers, the walleye run is on an hour north on this Wisconsin-Michigan boundary river by Marinette. Throw fire-tiger Storm Thundersticks. The best fishing is from shore. And there's beyond incredible action when the run is on from the Hattie Street dam to the waters of Green Bay. For more information, visit the Michigan Department of Natural Resources' Web site at www.fishline.com.

Lake Wisconsin Crappies

Back bays and ditches where pontoon boats are moored warm up quickly. Slab crappies find this water fast. Mini-Mite Jigs are killers, especially around docks and other wood. Contact: Barefish@chorus.net.

MAY

Lake DuBay Muskies

This stump-strewn Wisconsin River flowage may be the best-kept big-muskie secret in the Land of Cheese. Getting to the fish is the tough part, so either hire a guide or put your propeller repair shop on speed dial.

Phil Schweik is known locally as the "sultan of DuBay." He has a half-dozen guides working for his Hooksetter's Guide Service. Contact them at HooSetters.biz.

Sturgeon Bay Smallies

Big bronzebacks move into shallows of Sand Bay, Little Sturgeon Bay and "the flats" of the Sturgeon Bay ship canal to spawn about mid-month. A green pumpkin or clear hologram tube jig or K-grub is deadly. For more information, visit DoorCountyOutdoors.com.

St. Louis River Walleyes

Walleye season opens mid-month on this Minnesota-Wisconsin boundary river, with walleyes below the first dam inland from Lake Superior fighting like demons on stick baits and jigs after leaving the frigid waters of our greatest Great Lake and moving inland to spawn. Be there to greet them, and you will be amazed.

JUNE

Rock River Channel Cats

On a good day, you can fill a 10-catfish limit of "eater-sized" fish in just over an hour by using Sonny's Super Sticky dip bait on a sponge or plastic catfish worm.

Target snags and driftpiles near the channel edges with a rocky rubble bottom and moderate current.

For more information, contact Dick's Tackle & Bait at (608) 362-8712.

Little Tamarack Lake Muskies

Muskies seldom see a lure on this flowage between Presque Isle and Land-O-Lakes. It's a great place on a windy day. Start casting a Crane bait or bucktail over cabbage right at the boat launch. Forget that "fish of 10,000 casts" stuff when fishing here, and be on the ready.

Coulee Country Trout

The west side of our state has a bunch of great trout streams draining through deep valleys. The West Fork Kickapoo River has an international reputation, but smaller Vernon County streams like Bohemian Valley and Timber Coulee are virtually untouched.

JULY

Kentuck Lake Muskies

Kentuck Lake is definitely one of our state's best waters for catching and releasing that first "legal" muskie.

Most muskies are in the mid-30-inch range, but bigger fish swim here, too. Thus, it's a perfect lake to get a youngster, or an oldster, hooked on muskie fishing while you try for the wallhanger.

All you have to do on this lake is work the deep weed edge with a bucktail or topwater lure, and you are in business.

Contact: Eagle Sports, (715) 479-8804, or JustMusky!.com.

Racine Salmon

Racine's Salmon-a-Rama tournament is called "The Big One" with good reason. This could be our best multi-species port for salmonids, and they're all hungry right now! A charter boat offers a great family or buddy trip opportunity for about $60 per person. They provide everything you need, plus clean your catch at the end of the outing. You can't beat that, can you?

Sweeney Lake Muskies

Until now, this little lake near Woodruff-Minocqua was a secret local hotspot. Launch on County J at the edge of town and pitch a black bucktail near the big rocks on the north side of the island. Don't forget to work the weeds around the "hour glass."

AUGUST

Door County Walleyes

Offshore reefs near the Strawberry Islands out from Peninsula State Park in northern Door County are home to huge walleyes during late summer. Ironically, some of the best action comes at midday when Green Bay is dead-flat calm.

DNR surveys have netted walleyes in excess of the 18-pound state record here. The water out from Ephraim and Fish Creek should break the mark that has stood since 1933.

For more information, contact Pat Cavins at (920) 406-0970.

Teal Lake Muskies

Fluorescent colors work best on the stained waters of this Hayward-area lake. Try "burning" a bucktail or working a Top Raider over the weeds. Watch for a wake behind the lure, otherwise you won't see 'em coming!

Menominee River Smallmouths

Target rocks with plastics at the upper end of several "cookie cutter" pools and deep weed edges on slower moving water downstream in this pristine fishery inland from Marinette. This is one of our best spots to tangle with a 20-inch smallie. Great primitive camping is available, too.

SEPTEMBER

Pool No. 13 Bass

Bluegills move close to rocks just off the main channel of the Mississippi River, with bass in hot pursuit of them during September. Both largemouths and smallmouths become super aggressive on the river once football season starts. It's like they know it's time for battle.

Wing dams and closing dams on the Miss can also hold fish. And be sure to keep one rod rigged with a white Sassy Shad or RoadRunner handy for spontaneous white bass feeding frenzies.

If you need knowledge from a river rat, e-mail tedpeck@acegroup.cc.

Wisconsin Dells Sturgeon

The limit is one per year on this prehistoric fish, with the season only open for a couple of weeks in September. Two night crawlers doused with anise scent and fished at leading edges of deep holes toward dark can result in one of the best pulls you'll ever experience in the Dairy State. Just be sure to release them after the dance, because some of them have been swimming here since when your grandma first learned how to polka.

Lake Michigan Harbors

Chinook salmon stage at the mouths of Lake Michigan tributaries from late August into September, and 4-year-olds move inland to spawn and then die. The mouth of the Root River by Racine is probably most productive of the bunch. Try crankbaits when fish are staging at the mouth of the river, and then switch to egg-sucking leech-pattern flies or Gummy Bears when fish move inland to Estabrook Park.

SEPTEMBER

Pool No. 13 Bass

Bluegills move close to rocks just off the main channel of the Mississippi River, with bass in hot pursuit of them during September. Both largemouths and smallmouths become super aggressive on the river once football season starts. It's like they know it's time for battle.

Wing dams and closing dams on the Miss can also hold fish. And be sure to keep one rod rigged with a white Sassy Shad or RoadRunner handy for spontaneous white bass feeding frenzies.

If you need knowledge from a river rat, e-mail tedpeck@acegroup.cc.

Wisconsin Dells Sturgeon

The limit is one per year on this prehistoric fish, with the season only open for a couple of weeks in September. Two night crawlers doused with anise scent and fished at leading edges of deep holes toward dark can result in one of the best pulls you'll ever experience in the Dairy State. Just be sure to release them after the dance, because some of them have been swimming here since when your grandma first learned how to po

lka.

Lake Michigan Harbors

Chinook salmon stage at the mouths of Lake Michigan tributaries from late August into September, and 4-year-olds move inland to spawn and then die. The mouth of the Root River by Racine is probably most productive of the bunch. Try crankbaits when fish are staging at the mouth of the river, and then switch to egg-sucking leech-pattern flies or Gummy Bears when fish move inland to Estabrook Park.

OCTOBER

Pewaukee Lake Muskies

This Waukesha County lake is by far the best water in Wisconsin for muskies, according to the DNR, with both numbers and big fish present. Pewaukee Lake is also in the top five waters statewide for fishing pressure per surface acre. As a result, these fish are well versed in the ways of muskie anglers.

The night bite has been especially productive during October the past couple of years, and it is certainly worth checking into. Don't forget the Hawg Wobblers, headlamps and safety glasses!

Contact: Smokey's Bait Shop, (262) 691-0360.

Madison Chain Muskies

Work over the tops of remaining weeds along the 10- to 12-foot contour with a purple Mepps Giant Killer bucktail. Waubesa holds the most fish per acre. Try around Hog Island and at the south end of the lake out from Goodland Park.

Lake Winnebago Walleyes

Success on Wisconsin's premier walleye factory is directly tied to trout-perch and shad, the primary forage base. By October, baitfish numbers are usually down, and predator fish are on a rip getting ready for winter. This is a must-do fall trip. Axl Ehricke's Web site has solid information on fish activity at www.winnebagofishing.com.

NOVEMBER

Mississippi River Walleyes

A large portion of the walleye biomass on Old Man River is staged within a mile of lock-and-dam systems at this time of year. But the bite doesn't really get going until bales of grass are done floating through the pools.

The best action comes just before Thanksgiving, with afternoon usually the best time to hook up. Last chance for a fresh walleye fry before winter!

Contact: tedpeck@acegroup.cc.

Big Round Lake Muskies

Target the second breakline around deep, rocky mid-lake bars with a Depth Raider or Ernie while dragging a sucker behind the boat. This deep, clear Sawyer County lake holds some monsters in its 3,000-acre belly.

Lake Koshkonong Walleyes

Early in the month, troll FTJ7 Shad Raps behind planer boards over at least 6 feet of water. Late in the month, set tip-ups on the ice while shooting late-season diving ducks from shore along open water. It's the best of all possible worlds!

DECEMBER

Mississippi River Pike

Consider this as three hotspots since they are within easy driving distance. Lawrence Lake on the Mississippi River's Pool No. 8, Lake Onalaska upstream and Chain-O-Lakes on Pool No. 9 south of the Lansing bridge on Winneshiek Slough are perhaps the best places in western Wisconsin to tangle with a 35- to 40-inch northern pike during the first-ice period.

On some days, smelt will catch more fish, while on other days, a big shiner or roach is the way to go. Forget the jigging sticks, because this is a tip-up bite.

Contact: Bob's Bait & Tackle, (608) 782-5552.

Milwaukee Brown Trout

Those few mild, calm December days are perfect for chasing Seeforellen-strain brown trout just out from the mouth of the Milwaukee Harbor. Glass-patterned No. 5 Shad Raps and Nishiki-pattern Lucky Craft 178s were deadly last year. Don't forget your cell phone and marine radio. The Big Pond does not forgive mistakes.

Lake Noquebay Bluegills

Target deep weed edges early and late in the day with chartreuse, orange or glow Rat Finkees tipped with waxies or Lindy Teeny Tail plastics -- especially in glow or red. Fish tend to school by size. The bull bluegills are usually deeper, up to 18 feet down in pockets and along outside turns. Contact the Crivitz Recreation Association for more details at 1-800-274-8480, or on the Web at CrivitzReceation.com.

Find more about Wisconsin fishing and hunting at:

WisconsinSportsmanMag.com

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

Recommended Articles

Recent Videos

Magazine Cover

GET THE MAGAZINE Subscribe & Save

Digital Now Included!

SUBSCRIBE NOW

Give a Gift   |   Subscriber Services

PREVIEW THIS MONTH'S ISSUE

Buy Digital Single Issues

Magazine App Logo

Don't miss an issue.
Buy single digital issue for your phone or tablet.

Buy Single Digital Issue on the Game & Fish App

Other Magazines

See All Other Magazines

Special Interest Magazines

See All Special Interest Magazines

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

Get the top Game & Fish stories delivered right to your inbox every week.

Phone Icon

Get Digital Access.

All Game & Fish subscribers now have digital access to their magazine content. This means you have the option to read your magazine on most popular phones and tablets.

To get started, click the link below to visit mymagnow.com and learn how to access your digital magazine.

Get Digital Access

Not a Subscriber?
Subscribe Now

Enjoying What You're Reading?

Subscribe Now and Get a Full Year

Offer only for new subscribers.

Subscribe Now