With more than 15,000 lakes, over 1,000 miles of Great Lakes shoreline, and approximately 150 species of fish, Wisconsin offers fantastic fishing opportunities to fishermen of all ages. Finding a good fishing spot in Wisconsin is easy, but first, anglers must know the opening and closing fishing season dates.
So, when does the fishing season end in Wisconsin? The general inland fishing season in Wisconsin ends on March 5. General inland trout fishing season closes on October 15, and early inland trout fishing season ends on May 6. Wisconsin fishing season for bullheads, catfish, panfish, cisco, whitefish, white perch, and rough fish is open all year.
Keep reading to learn the opening and closing season dates for different fish species in Wisconsin. We’ll also cover Wisconsin fishing rules and regulations for the daily bag, length, and possession limits.
General Fishing Laws and Season in Wisconsin
In Wisconsin, everyone ages 16 or older needs a valid fishing license to take fish from state waters. This rule applies to resident and non-resident anglers. Depending on the fish species you’re planning to catch, you may need a stamp privilege.
Issuing fishing licenses is one way the Wisconsin DNR helps control the impact anglers have on the fish population and ensures great fishing opportunities for future generations of anglers.
If you’re planning to fish in Wisconsin, check out the state fishing regulations to avoid paying a fine for a violation.
Similar to other states, Wisconsin has fishing regulations that specify the daily bag, length, and possession limit for different fish species.
Largemouth and Smallmouth Bass
The minimum length limit for largemouth and smallmouth bass is 14 inches. The daily bag limit is five fish.
The minimum length limit for flathead catfish is 30 inches, but specimens from 36 to 40 inches long can’t be kept. The daily bag limit for flathead catfish is one.
Muskellunge and Hybrids
The daily bag limit for muskellunge and hybrids is one fish with a minimum length limit of 40 inches.
The minimum length limit for Northern Pike is 24 inches, and the daily possession limit is two.
There is no minimum length limit for panfish, but the daily bag limit is 25 fish.
Walleye, Sauger, & Hybrids
The minimal length limit for walleye, sauger, and hybrids is 15 inches, and the bag limit is five.
There is no minimum length limit for channel catfish, and the daily bag limit is 25. But if one flathead catfish is included, the daily bag limit for channel catfish is 24.
Cisco & Whitefish
The daily bag limit for Cisco and Whitefish is 10, and there is no length limit.
Bullheads, Rock, Yellow, and White Bass, & Rough Fish
There is no length limit for yellow, rock, and white bass, bullheads, and rough fish, and the daily bag limit is unlimited.
The fishing season in Wisconsin traditionally starts on the first Saturday in May. Fishing season dates usually vary depending on the fish species and waterbody.
Wisconsin’s open waters are divided into districts which consist of the North, West, South, and East district. The opening and closing fishing season dates vary by district, waterbody, and fish species.
Early Inland Trout (Catch & Release)
The early fishing season for inland trout starts January 1 at 5 a.m. and lasts until May 6.
General Inland Trout
General inland trout fishing season starts on May 7 at 5 a.m. and lasts until October 15.
General Inland Fishing
General inland fishing for most freshwater species in Wisconsin starts on May 7 and ends on March 5. These dates may change yearly, so check the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources for more details.
Largemouth Bass Northern Zone Harvest
The largemouth bass fishing season in the Northern zone starts on May 7 and closes on March 5. The bag, length, and possession limit for largemouth bass in the Northern zone vary depending on the waterbody.
Smallmouth Bass Northern Zone Harvest
Anglers targeting smallmouth bass in the Northern zone can start fishing on June 18 and continue to do so until March 5.
Largemouth and Smallmouth Bass Southern Zone Harvest
The fishing season for largemouth and smallmouth bass in the Southern zone opens on May 7 and closes on March 5.
Musky Northern & Southern Zone Harvest
Fishing for musky in the Northern zone starts on May 28 and ends on December 31.
Northern Pike & Walleye
Fishing season for Northern pike and walleye starts on May 7 and ends on March 5.
What Fish Are in Season in Wisconsin?
With thousands of lakes, Wisconsin is home to many fish species. Some fish species, including bullheads, catfish, channel catfish, cisco, whitefish, panfish, rough fish, round goby, white perch, rock, yellow, and white bass, are in season all year round.
Can You Fish Year-Round in Wisconsin?
The lakes Escanaba, Mystery, Nebish, Pallette, and Spruce are open to continuous year-round fishing for all fish species unless otherwise specified.
Can You Fish in Wisconsin in December?
If ice hasn’t covered the southern lakes, anglers can still fish for muskellunge until the end of December. In northern Wisconsin, ice fishing starts to pick up in mid-December, and early ice offers good fishing opportunities for walleye and panfish.
Can You Fish in Wisconsin in the Winter?
Yes, anglers can fish in Wisconsin in the winter. November and December are great months for muskellunge fishing and early ice fishing season is excellent for panfish and walleye.
The early catch and release season for inland trout starts in January and offers anglers a chance to target brown trout in the open waters of Lake Michigan’s harbors and tributaries.
Wisconsin has some of the best fishing spots in the country. Whether you’re a novice or an experienced angler, Wisconsin’s lakes are teeming with different fish species waiting to be caught.
The opening and closing dates for the Wisconsin fishing season vary depending on species, district, and waterbody.