Wisconsin fishing guide

Welcome to your key source for all fishing-related information in Wisconsin. Discover not only the prime fishing spots but also learn about the diverse species inhabiting these waters. Stay informed about the latest fishing regulations and licensing requirements for fishing in Wisconsin

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46 waterbodies
29 cities
61 fishes

Licenses for fishing in Wisconsin

In Wisconsin, kids 15 and under fish without a license every day, as do anglers born before 1927. There are various license options for others, including discounted licenses for first-time buyers and active-duty military. Residents and non-residents have different pricing for licenses.

For more information and to buy a license online, visit the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources website.

Category License Type Resident Price Non-Resident Price
General Fishing Annual $20.00 $55.00
  First-time Buyer $5.00 $25.75
  1-Day $8.00 $15.00
  Junior (16 & 17 years old) $7.00 -
  Senior Citizen (65 years & older) $7.00 -
  Spousal $31.00 -
Sturgeon Fishing Various Types $3.00 - $20.00 $3.00 - $65.00
Disabled/Veteran Disabled $7.00 -
  Veteran/Disabled $3.00 -
  Armed Forces (Active on furlough/leave) Free -
Special Stamps Inland Trout Stamp $10.00 $10.00
  Great Lake Salmon/Trout Stamp $10.00 $10.00

Fishing Regulations in Wisconsin

Prohibited Gear and Fishing Methods
  • Use of explosives, poisons, or electric shock to catch fish is illegal.
  • Fishing with nets, traps, or seines is not allowed without specific permits.
  • Use of live fish as bait is restricted in some waters.
  • Spearing is prohibited except for rough fish in certain waters.
  • Chumming or baiting fish with feed is not allowed in most waters.
Catch Limits
  • Walleye: Daily bag limit varies by water body, often 3-5, with size limits.
  • Musky: Northern zone limit of 1, minimum length 40 inches; Southern zone limit of 1, minimum length 34 inches.
  • Bass (largemouth and smallmouth): Daily bag limit generally 5, size limits vary.
  • Panfish (bluegill, perch, crappie): Daily bag limit typically 25 in total.
  • Trout: Limits vary by water body and type of trout, often with a 5 fish limit.
  • Pike: Northern zone limit of 5, no size limit; Southern zone limit of 2, minimum length 26 inches.
  • Sturgeon: Harvest seasons and regulations vary significantly by water body.
  • Salmon: Daily bag limit varies, typically 5 combined for all salmon species.
  • Catfish: Bag and size limits vary by species and water body.
  • Lake trout: Limits and seasons vary by specific lakes.
Restrictions on Access to Water Bodies
  • Fishing access may be restricted in certain areas for environmental protection.
  • Private lands require permission from the landowner for fishing.
  • Designated wilderness and natural areas may have access restrictions.
  • No fishing zones enforced near dams, fish hatcheries, and certain piers.
  • Seasonal closures of certain waters for fish spawning and management.
Zones of Special Regulation
  • Trophy fish areas with enhanced size limits and reduced bag limits.
  • Catch-and-release only areas for certain species or locations.
  • Artificial lure and fly-only areas in designated trout streams.
  • Slot limits for bass and walleye in specific waters.
  • Special regulations in boundary waters with neighboring states.
Protection of Rare Species
  • Endangered and threatened species are fully protected and cannot be targeted or retained.
  • Special regulations in habitats of rare or sensitive aquatic species.
  • Restrictions in areas known for rare plant communities.
  • Research fishing for rare species requires special permits.
  • Reporting accidental catch of rare species is encouraged for monitoring purposes.
Seasonal Restrictions
  • Closed seasons for specific species to protect spawning.
  • Ice fishing regulations during the winter, including shelter removal dates.
  • Seasonal restrictions in ecologically sensitive areas.
  • Temporary closures during environmental events like fish kills or algae blooms.
  • Special trout seasons in designated trout waters.
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