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Wisconsin’s Fishing Season Opener

Wisconsin Fishing Opener

Now that the snow is gone, it’s finally starting to feel like spring here in Wisconsin. After Mother Nature’s not-so-funny April Fool’s joke of yet another winter storm, it’s safe to say the recent sunshine, chirping birds, and warmer temperatures are here to stay. With the longer days of spring comes the kickoff of Wisconsin’s long-awaited fishing opener. Nothing says summer quite like a day out on the lake, casting away, and reeling in a fresh catch. With many of us at Noah Insurance Group being anglers ourselves, we’re shifting our focus for a moment and sharing some our favorite fishing tips and facts for the season.

Don’t Forget Your License

In Wisconsin, residents who are 16 years old and older need a fishing license to fish any lakes, rivers, ponds, or other waters of the state. People who are not residents of Wisconsin and are 16 years old or older need a nonresident license to fish in Wisconsin. Once you have your license, you can look forward to catching both memories and fish.

Know Your Fish

Spring fishing opener in Wisconsin is typically the first Saturday in May.  However, in some situations fishing season dates vary based on the type of fish and which body of water you plan to fish on. Visit the Wisconsin DNR’s website for a more specific list of dates, species, and zones.

Here’s a breakdown of fishing seasons for some of Northwest Wisconsin’s most popular catches.

General Inland Trout
May 2, 2015 – September 30, 2015

General Inland Fishing
May 2, 2015 – March 6, 2016

Largemouth Bass
May 2, 2015 – March 6, 2016

Smallmouth Bass Northern Zone
May 2, 2015 – June 19, 2015 (Catch & Release only)
June 20, 2015 – March 6 2016 

Large and Smallmouth Bass Southern Zone
May 2, 2015 to March 6, 2016

Musky – Northern Zone
May 23, 2015 to November 30, 2015

Musky – Southern Zone
May 2,2015 to December 31, 2015

Northern Pike (North of Hwy 10)
May 2, 2015 – March 6, 2016

May 2, 2015 – March 6, 2016

Know the Law

Along with the joy of fishing comes rules and regulations. As a general rule of thumb, keep these tips in mind to avoid trouble.

  • In Wisconsin, it’s illegal to release your unused bait into lakes, streams, rivers, and ponds.
  • Check regulations to ensure your fish isn’t above or below length limits.
  • If you’re sponsoring a fishing tournament, make sure you check with the Wisconsin DNR first for the appropriate permits.
  • Fishing with more than three hooks, baits, or lures is not allowed in Wisconsin.
  • Unless otherwise allowed, do not catch fish by anything other than a hook and line.
  • “Jug” fishing is a no-no in Wisconsin.
  • Don’t leave a fishing line unattended.

Wisconsin Fishing Goes Mobile

Stay ahead of the game by downloading the Wisconsin DNR’s Fishing, Hunting, and Wildlife App. Now available in the Apple App Store and Google Play, the convenient tool provides users with fishing forecasts, maps, news, and a fish species guide – all at the tap of a finger. You can also see photos and infographics of Wisconsin fishing by following Fishing Wisconsin on Pinterest at

Stay Safe

Above all, be safe. While fishing can be fun for all, it can be dangerous as well. When heading out to the lake, pond, river, or stream, remember to pay attention to a few common sense tips:

  • Stay off from any remaining ice. While it only seemed like yesterday we were driving on the ice, what ice is left is not safe to be driving or walking on for that matter. Stay either on shore or in your boat and stay dry.
  • Keep an eye out for stumps and logs. This is especially true if you’re on a flowage or river. With the spring thaw you’ll often find debris finding its way into to the rivers and onto the lakes. Watch out for logs that are immediately under the surface as they can take out the lower unit of your motor before you know it.
  • Observe safe boating rules. While this is good advice year-round. Pay particular attention on opening weekend as you find a lot of excited anglers as well as a few new boat-owners out on the lake.


Good Luck to everyone!