When it comes to fishing, not many states can beat Wisconsin! With an astounding number of over 15,000 lakes, this state is a true angler’s paradise. From the stunning expanse of Lake Michigan to the hidden gems, there are many amazing fishing lakes to explore!
In this article, we will explore the 14 best fishing lakes in Wisconsin. Let’s dive in!
1. Lake Wisconsin
Let’s start with Lake Wisconsin, nestled in the heart of south-central Wisconsin. This reservoir spans an impressive 9,500 acres with a generous 57 miles of shoreline.
Lake Wisconsin boasts an array of amenities designed to enhance your experience. There are over a dozen boat launch ramps, parks, and public access areas dotting the landscape.
Late winter through early spring and late fall are prime times to reel in walleye prized catches as the fish migrate up the Wisconsin River toward the Wisconsin Dells dam.
But the excitement doesn’t end there! Lake Wisconsin is home to an impressive variety of fish that will keep any angler hooked. From the mighty largemouth bass and feisty smallmouth bass to the elusive channel catfish, black crappie, northern pike, flathead catfish, bluegill, muskie, yellow perch, and sturgeon, there’s a fish for every preference and skill level.
2. Lake Winnebago
The largest inland lake in the state of Wisconsin, Lake Winnebago, is a true angler’s paradise. This stunning lake is not only renowned for its picturesque beauty but also for its unique offering of sturgeon-spearing during the winter months.
With its vast expanse of 131,939 acres and an impressive 88 miles of shoreline, Lake Winnebago offers endless possibilities for fishing adventures.
To cater to the needs of boating enthusiasts, Lake Winnebago provides a dozen convenient boat landings and several marinas. There are numerous parks, boat launch ramps, and scenic roads along the shoreline that provide ample opportunities for bank fishing.
When the lake is safely frozen over, ice fishing becomes a popular activity among local anglers.
While sturgeon may take the spotlight at Lake Winnebago, the lake is also known for its impressive walleye population. Ranging mostly between 12 and 23 inches in size, these prized catches offer plenty of excitement for anglers. Additionally, you’ll find perch, largemouth bass, northern pike, and bluegill among the diverse array of fish species that call Lake Winnebago home.
3. Lake Chippewa
A must-visit destination for anglers, Lake Chippewa spans 15,300 acres and is home to some monstrous muskie that will surely put your angling skills to the test. With over 200 miles of pristine shoreline and floating bogs acting as migratory motels for various fish species, Lake Chippewa offers endless opportunities for fishing!
Fishing at Lake Chippewa is a year-round delight, with opportunities for both open-water fishing and thrilling ice fishing during safe winter conditions. For those who want to launch their own boats, there are six conveniently located public boat ramps that not only provide access to the water but also offer opportunities for bank fishing along select shoreline areas.
As you explore the depths of Lake Chippewa, you’ll encounter thriving schools of bass, muskie, perch, crappie, catfish, walleye, northern pike, sturgeon, and panfish.
4. Geneva Lake
Geneva Lake is a haven for anglers seeking both warm-water and coldwater fish species. This remarkable lake, spanning 5,300 acres, boasts over 20 miles of shoreline in the southeastern part of the state.
Late spring, summer, and fall are the prime seasons to enjoy the best boating and fishing experiences in the area surrounding Geneva Lake. For those who prefer fishing from the shore, the Lake Geneva Shore Path offers convenient access. Additionally, there are several public boat ramps located around the lake, ensuring easy access for boaters.
The efforts to stock brown and lake trout have created exceptional angling opportunities. While the lake is renowned for its impressive population of quality smallmouth bass, it is also home to thriving populations of largemouth bass and northern pike.
5. Pelican Lake
Discover the enchanting Pelican Lake, which boasts some of Wisconsin’s finest fishing and boating experiences. Nestled in the northeast part of the state, in the town bearing its name, Pelican Lake stretches across 3,600 acres, offering a wealth of opportunities for anglers and outdoor enthusiasts alike. With 13 miles of inviting shoreline, this lake beckons visitors to explore its waters.
Resorts, campgrounds, cozy cottages, and inviting cabins offer comfortable accommodations. Additionally, several beaches around the lake provide convenient parking, swimming opportunities, and limited access to bank fishing.
The diverse fish population of Pelican Lake includes largemouth bass, crappie, sunfish, and perch, which thrive in good numbers. However, the lake is particularly renowned for its impressive weed beds, which are famous for harboring trophy-size northern pike and musky.
Moreover, Pelican Lake is well-known for its exceptional walleye fishing, attracting fishing enthusiasts yearly. Come fall, the musky fishing on this lake reaches phenomenal levels, providing an unforgettable experience for anglers.
6. Lake Mendota
Another captivating lake in Wisconsin is Lake Mendota, a haven for traditional fishing during the warm months and a thrilling destination for ice fishing during the colder season.
For those seeking angling excitement and natural beauty, Lake Mendota boasts over 21 miles of picturesque shoreline to explore and fish. Access to the shore for bank fishing is a breeze, thanks to the convenient presence of numerous parks and boat landings located around the lake. Whether you’re in need of marinas, stores, comfortable lodging, delicious restaurants, or camping facilities, Lake Mendota and its surrounding area cater to your every need.
When it comes to the abundant fish species that inhabit Lake Mendota, you’ll be spoiled for choice. Cast your line and prepare for the excitement of reeling in smallmouth bass, pumpkinseed sunfish, black crappie, channel catfish, white crappie, bluegill, walleye, white bass, green sunfish, rock bass, musky, yellow perch, largemouth bass, and northern pike.
7. Lake Pepin
Lake Pepin is a natural gem nestled along a picturesque 22-mile stretch of the magnificent Mississippi River. This beloved fishery spans an impressive 25,000 acres and spans the border between Minnesota and Wisconsin, boasting over 100 miles of captivating shoreline.
Whether you need marinas, rental boats, camping facilities, or various supplies and services, you’ll find everything you need to make your time on the lake truly enjoyable. From fishing enthusiasts to sailing aficionados, canoeing lovers to boating enthusiasts, and even those seeking the thrill of water skiing or swimming, Lake Pepin caters to every outdoor enthusiast.
One of the highlights of Lake Pepin is its well-deserved reputation as a fantastic smallmouth bass fishery. The abundance of rip-rap shorelines creates perfect feeding grounds for these prized smallmouth bass, ensuring an exciting and rewarding fishing experience.
Walleye fishing is also popular here, adding to the thrill. Crappie, perch, pike, white bass, sauger, and sunfish are also among the desirable catches that await you.
8. Lake DuBay
Lake DuBay is a picturesque 6,700-acre reservoir nestled in the heart of Wisconsin. Renowned as one of the region’s premier fishing destinations, Lake DuBay offers a scenic and challenging fishing experience, with the potential for landing some impressive trophy fish across multiple species.
With 42 miles of inviting shoreline and an abundance of islands, tree stumps, and shallow humps, Lake DuBay attracts anglers to explore its diverse fishing grounds. During the winter months, when the ice is safe, locals and visitors alike enjoy the thrilling pursuit of ice fishing, targeting a variety of species. Conveniently located marinas, stores, restaurants, and lodging facilities ensure that all your needs are met during your fishing trip or vacation at Lake DuBay.
Whether you’re targeting the elusive largemouth bass, channel catfish, smallmouth bass, walleye, black crappie, white crappie, bluegill, musky, yellow perch, or northern pike, Lake DuBay promises an exhilarating fishing experience for anglers of all levels.
9. Petenwell Lake
Petenwell Lake is another haven for anglers seeking a diverse and exciting fishing experience. Spanning an impressive 23,000 acres, this central Wisconsin lake offers an abundance of fish species that cater to all types of anglers.
With over 100 miles of inviting shoreline and more than a dozen public boat landings, Petenwell Lake ensures easy access for both boat enthusiasts and those who prefer fishing from the bank. Alongside the boat ramps, you’ll find parks, beaches, and other designated areas that provide convenient opportunities for shoreline fishing. To enhance your fishing trip or vacation, you’ll also find a range of amenities such as lodging, camping options, dining establishments, and shopping facilities in close proximity.
Petenwell Lake boasts a thriving population of both warm-water and cold-water fish species, ensuring a varied and rewarding angling experience throughout the year. During the summer months, anglers can expect to reel in impressive catches, including bass, sunfish, crappie, catfish, walleye, muskie, perch, sauger, tiger muskie, northern pike, and even sturgeon.
10. Lake Michigan
Lake Michigan offers an expansive fishing experience, with its vast surface area spanning over 22,000 square miles and boasting an impressive 1,640 miles of shoreline. Whether you’re seeking a tranquil spot to cast your line or a place to reel in your catch, this magnificent lake is the place to be!
While Wisconsin’s inland lakes and streams are renowned for their excellent fishing opportunities, it’s hard to overlook the undeniable allure of Lake Michigan. Contrary to popular belief, fishing on the Great Lakes isn’t limited to boat excursions alone. With numerous access points and a wealth of tributaries, the banks of Lake Michigan offer ample opportunities for anglers to partake in this exhilarating activity.
The lake’s diverse ecosystem supports a variety of fish species that entice fishing enthusiasts from around the world. Trout, steelhead, salmon, bass, and walleye are just a few of the prized catches that anglers can pursue in this remarkable fish haven.
11. Long Lake
Long Lake is the ultimate fishing destination and the undisputed walleye capital of Wisconsin! Unlike other lakes sharing the name “Long Lake” in the state, this expansive 3,300-acre gem proudly stands as the largest of them all.
Prepare to be amazed as you explore approximately 25 miles of scenic shoreline, offering not only incredible fishing opportunities but also a wide range of water sports and boating adventures. Long Lake has you covered with convenient boat ramps, bait shops, rental boats, and marinas, ensuring you have everything you need for an unforgettable time on the water.
While Long Lake reigns supreme as the walleye hotspot, its fishery extends well beyond this prized species. Get ready to reel in action with an array of other fantastic catches, including bass, perch, pike, sunfish, and crappie.
12. Big Green Lake
Big Green Lake is a 7,300-acre fishing paradise that holds the prestigious title of the home to the Wisconsin state record lake trout. This magnificent lake offers a haven for high-quality fishing experiences all year round.
With 29 miles of picturesque shoreline, Big Green Lake provides ample opportunities for anglers to explore its beauty and cast their lines. During the winter months, when the ice is safe, local anglers take to the frozen surface for exciting ice fishing adventures, targeting the various fish species that thrive in the lake. A marina is available to serve the boating community, with rental options to enhance your fishing experience.
Big Green Lake is teeming with healthy populations of trout, bass, perch, white bass, walleye, northern pike, catfish, muskies, crappie, and sunfish. Its fertile reservoir sustains a diverse and thriving ecosystem, ensuring that there’s always a fish species waiting to challenge your fishing skills.
13. Shawano Lake
Nestled in the picturesque countryside of eastern Wisconsin, Shawano Lake spans 6,178 acres and offers a tranquil retreat filled with natural beauty and splendor. The lake boasts an impressive 18 miles of scenic shoreline, offering ample opportunities for anglers to cast their lines and explore its beauty.
Conveniently located adjacent to the Shawano Airport, this lake is a great destination for those who want to fly in and enjoy a fantastic fishing experience. Finding lodging, renting boats, securing fishing guides, and accessing tackle shops are all a breeze at Shawano Lake, ensuring you have everything you need for a memorable fishing trip.
When it comes to the fish species you can expect to encounter at Shawano Lake, the list is impressive. Largemouth bass, walleye, bluegill, black crappie, yellow perch, musky, pumpkinseed sunfish, northern pike, and sturgeon inhabit these waters.
14. Pewaukee Lake
Pewaukee Lake is a true fisherman’s paradise and the ultimate destination for muskie fishing in southeastern Wisconsin. From swimming, fishing, water skiing, and boating in the summer to ice fishing and skating in the winter, Pewaukee Lake is a year-round hub of excitement.
Spanning across 2,400 acres in the southeast region, Pewaukee Lake offers two public boat ramps, making it convenient for you to launch your boat and embark on thrilling water skiing adventures, leisurely boating trips, sightseeing excursions, or satisfying fishing expeditions. Cruise along over 10 miles of stunning shoreline, taking in the picturesque views while fishing for shallow-water fish species.
The lake is also home to high-quality largemouth bass and abundant walleye, further adding to the charm for avid anglers. Additionally, you’ll find a variety of other fish species residing in these waters, including crappie, northern pike, perch, and sunfish.
Summary of the Best Fishing Lakes in Wisconsin
|1||Lake Wisconsin||Columbia & Sauk Counties|
|2||Lake Winnebago||Calumet, Fond du Lac & Winnebago Counties|
|3||Lake Chippewa||Sawyer County|
|4||Geneva Lake||Walworth County|
|5||Pelican Lake||Oneida County|
|6||Lake Mendota||Dane County|
|7||Lake Pepin||Pepin, Buffalo & Pierce Counties|
|8||Lake Dubay||Portage & Marathon Counties|
|9||Petenwell Lake||Juneau, Adams & Wood Counties|
|10||Lake Michigan||Milwaukee, Racine, Kenosha, Manitowoc, Sheboygan, Ozaukee, & Door Counties|
|11||Long Lake||Washburn County|
|12||Big Green Lake||Green Lake County|
|13||Shawano Lake||Shawano County|
|14||Pewaukee Lake||Waukesha County|
The photo featured at the top of this post is © K Hanley CHDPhoto/Shutterstock.com
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