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The Top 10 Fish Species Being Fished for in Wisconsin

Wisconsin, with its rich tapestry of lakes, rivers, and streams, is a paradise for anglers. The state’s diverse aquatic habitats support a wide variety of fish species, each offering unique challenges and rewards for fishing enthusiasts. Here’s a look at the top 10 fish species that are most sought after in Wisconsin waters.

1 Walleye

By Engbretson, Eric / U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service – [1], Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=2031119

Walleye is arguably the most prized game fish in Wisconsin. Known for their delicious taste and challenging catch, walleye are most active during dawn and dusk. Anglers flock to lakes like Lake Winnebago and the Bay of Green Bay to catch these elusive fish. Techniques such as trolling, jigging, and using live bait are popular among walleye anglers.

2 Largemouth Bass

By Robert Pos – Flickr: 1351_largemouth bass (Micropterus salmoides)_300 dpi, CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=19473429

Largemouth bass are a favorite among sport fishermen due to their aggressive nature and the thrill of the catch. Found in abundance in lakes and rivers throughout the state, including Lake Wisconsin and the Mississippi River, largemouth bass are often caught using techniques like topwater lures and plastic worms.

3 Smallmouth Bass

By Engbretson Eric, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service – http://www.public-domain-image.com/public-domain-images-pictures-free-stock-photos/fauna-animals-public-domain-images-pictures/fishes-public-domain-images-pictures/bass-fishes-pictures/detailed-underwater-photo-of-smallmouth-bass-fish-micropterus-dolomieu.jpg, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=24858275

Smallmouth bass, known for their fighting spirit, are prevalent in the cooler, clearer waters of Wisconsin’s northern lakes and rivers. The Menominee River and Door County are renowned smallmouth bass fishing destinations. Anglers typically use crankbaits, spinnerbaits, and live bait to lure these fish.

4 Northern Pike


Northern pike are voracious predators found in many of Wisconsin’s waters, including the St. Croix River and Lake Puckaway. Their aggressive nature makes them a thrilling catch. Anglers often use large spoons, spinners, and live bait to catch these fish, especially during the cooler months when pike are more active.

5 Muskellunge (Muskie)

By Engbretson, Eric / U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service – [1], Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=3720748

The muskie, Wisconsin’s state fish, is the ultimate prize for many anglers due to its size and the challenge it presents. Known as the “fish of 10,000 casts,” muskies are found in waters like the Chippewa Flowage and the Wisconsin River. Large, flashy lures and live bait are commonly used to attract these elusive giants.

6 Bluegill

By Bclegg77 – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=49508307

Bluegill are abundant and relatively easy to catch, making them a popular target for families and novice anglers. Found in lakes and ponds across the state, such as Lake Mendota and Beaver Dam Lake, bluegills are often caught using simple gear like small hooks, worms, and bobbers.

7 Crappie

Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=286200

Both black and white crappie are popular among Wisconsin anglers, particularly during their spawning season in spring. Lakes like Lake Wisconsin and Petenwell Flowage are known for their crappie populations. Anglers use small jigs, minnows, and other live bait to catch these tasty fish.

8 Yellow Perch

By Robert Colletta – https://www.ars.usda.gov/oc/images/photos/may14/d3149-1/, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=76536019

Yellow perch are a favorite for their excellent table fare. Found in lakes and rivers statewide, including Lake Winnebago and Green Bay, perch are often caught using minnows, worms, and small jigs. Ice fishing for perch is particularly popular in winter.

9 Trout

By Eric Engbretson for U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service – http://images.fws.gov/default.cfm?fuseaction=records.display&CFID=5400462&CFTOKEN=69459066&id=D5592375-C7B8-49C7-A38CD511E25A86BF, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=1397859

Wisconsin’s trout streams, such as the Driftless Area streams and the Bois Brule River, offer excellent opportunities for catching brook, brown, and rainbow trout. Fly fishing is a favored method, with anglers using various flies that mimic the trout’s natural prey. Stocked and wild trout provide a mix of fishing experiences.

10 Catfish

Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=208254

Catfish, particularly channel and flathead catfish, are popular targets in the Mississippi River and its tributaries. Known for their size and strength, catfish are often caught using stink baits, chicken liver, and nightcrawlers. Night fishing is particularly productive for catfish anglers.

Wisconsin’s diverse aquatic ecosystems provide a wide array of fishing opportunities for both novice and seasoned anglers. Whether you’re after the thrill of landing a massive muskie or the simple pleasure of catching a bluegill with family, the state’s waters offer something for everyone. So grab your gear, head to your favorite fishing spot, and enjoy the rich fishing heritage that Wisconsin has to offer.



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