The Largest Smallmouth Bass Ever Caught in Wisconsin Was as Heavy as a Bowling Ball

Close up on a freshly caught smallmouth bass ith a flure and hook in its mouth in the hand of a fisherman displaying it over the water in the river
© CLP Media/

Written by Kyle Glatz

Updated: November 19, 2023

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Wisconsin has amazing fishing areas for anglers. Lake Michigan, the Wisconsin River, and the thousands of lakes that dot the state offer beautiful places to drop a hook and see what is biting. Smallmouth bass are a popular species of fish that anglers pursue even though they do not get as large as other sportfish. Discover the largest smallmouth bass ever caught in Wisconsin including how big it was, where it was caught, when it was caught, and more!

About the Smallmouth Bass Species

Smallmouth Bass

Smallmouth bass are carnivorous fish whose diet consists primarily of small fish, insects, crustaceans, and other aquatic organisms.

©RLS Photo/

Before we look at the largest smallmouth bass ever caught in Wisconsin, it’s a good idea to get to know the species. Smallmouth bass (Micropterus dolomieu) are black bass, a type of sunfish.

On average, these fish can measure between 12 and 16 inches in length. Also, the average smallmouth bass will weigh less than 5 pounds. The larger members of the species can grow upwards of 27 inches long and weigh over 10 pounds.

This species can appear in a wide assortment of colors. They can range from olive to bronze to dark brown as a body color. Their undersides are usually yellowish-white. The fish have dark brown bars that run vertically on their bodies. The fish also have horizontal bars on their heads.

These fish are usually found in clear freshwater including lakes, rivers, and streams. Smallmouth bass prefer lakes that are 100 acres or larger and more than 30 feet deep. The species can also be found in shallow streams, less than 25 feet deep. They prefer areas that have sandy, gravel, or rocky substrates as well. The species is carnivorous and actively pursues insects, zooplankton, various larvae, and small fish.  

Anglers love catching these fish because they can be challenging to catch, especially once they’re on the hook.

What Was the Largest Smallmouth Bass Ever Caught in Wisconsin?

Smallmouth bass

Handling smallmouth bass properly is critical to their survival.

©CLP Media/

The largest smallmouth bass ever caught in Wisconsin weighed 9 pounds 1 ounce. The record was set on June 21, 1950. On that day, a man named Leon Stefonek caught the fish at Indiana Lake in Oneida County, Wisconsin.

We do not know much else about the record aside from the fish’s weight and where it was caught. The record does not list where Mr. Stefonek was from, what bait he used to catch the fish or even the length of the state’s record-setting fish.

So, while we know the most important measure of the fish, its weight, we have no idea about many aspects of the fish.

Where Is Indian Lake on a Map?

Indian Lake is a lake in Sugar Camp, Wisconsin. This town and the lake are both in Oneida County, a place in northern Wisconsin. This lake is about 25 miles south of the border with the Upper Peninsula of Michigan.

The lake itself is in a part of Wisconsin that features many lakes. Wisconsin Route 17 runs to the west of the lake, providing access to other roads that lead directly to Indian Lake’s shores.

From east to west, Indian Lake is about 1.1 miles wide. The lake is about 4,800 feet from north to south. This is a moderately sized body of water in which people can catch all kinds of fish.

Finding this lake on a map can be difficult. After all, so many other lakes are right near this one, including Sugar Camp Lake. Indian Lake and Sugar Camp Lake are separated by only 500 feet of land at some points. In any case, the map above provides the exact location of this lake. That way, anglers can try their luck at landing the largest smallmouth bass ever caught in Wisconsin.  

Other Fish Living in Indian Lake

Indian Lake is not a very large lake, and it’s not often listed among the best lakes for fishing in Wisconsin. However, it is renowned for producing the largest smallmouth bass ever caught in Wisconsin. People who want to try their hand at catching a new record-setting smallmouth bass may try to fish at the lake.

While anglers are vying for new smallmouth bass, they may just find themselves catching other fish as well. Some of the other fish that people can catch at Indian Lake are:

  • Muskellunge
  • Largemouth bass
  • Black crappie
  • Walleye
  • Bluegill
  • Northern pike
  • Pumpkinseed
  • Yellow perch

The lake has plenty of different fish for anglers to pursue. So, while looking for a smallmouth bass, fishers might just catch something else along the way.

Comparing Wisconsin’s Record to the All-Time Record

Smallmouth Bass

The largest smallmouth bass of all time was 11 pounds 15 ounces.

©K Steve Cope/

Wisconsin’s largest smallmouth bass of all time was 9 pounds 1 ounce. Was that the largest of all time, though? No, it was not. According to Game and Fish Magazine the largest smallmouth bass of all time was 11 pounds 15 ounces. This fish was almost three pounds heavier than the one pulled from Indian Lake in Wisconsin.

David Hayes captured the fish in Dale Hollow Reservoir in Tennessee. He set the record on July 9, 1955. The Dale Hollow Reservoir is famous for the massive smallmouth bass that live in its waters. Anglers have caught several other smallmouth bass weighing over 10 pounds in that same reservoir.  

All in all, the largest smallmouth bass ever caught in Wisconsin was quite large for the species, but it was not the biggest of all time. Unfortunately, records do not exist to show the length of the fish. Since many of the records for smallmouth bass are close together in weight, a new record can emerge and beat out the former one by a small margin. We’ll have to wait and see if someone gets lucky enough to catch a larger, heavier specimen.

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About the Author

Kyle Glatz is a writer at A-Z-Animals where his primary focus is on geography and mammals. Kyle has been writing for researching and writing about animals and numerous other topics for 10 years, and he holds a Bachelor's Degree in English and Education from Rowan University. A resident of New Jersey, Kyle enjoys reading, writing, and playing video games.

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