index

Fishing Regulations in Wisconsin

Fishing License Requirements

In Wisconsin, it is imperative to possess a valid fishing license and stamp privilege when engaging in fishing activities in any state waters. Whether fishing in public access areas or private ponds, a fishing license is mandatory. Even in cases where the waters are not publicly accessible, such as private ponds, the appropriate license, tag, or stamp is still required.

Exceptions to Fishing License Requirement

There is an exception for anglers fishing in man-made artificial ponds situated entirely on private lands belonging to a single owner. In such cases, if the owner grants permission to fish in the pond, the angler does not need a fishing license. However, all other fishing regulations and rules still apply in these circumstances.

Prohibited Activities

It is illegal to fish in Wisconsin waters without a valid fishing license and stamp privilege. Anglers must be prepared to present their fishing license upon request by a warden.

Prohibition on License Misuse

Possessing, loaning, or borrowing another person’s fishing license, stamp, or tag is strictly prohibited by law. Each individual must obtain their own valid license before engaging in fishing activities to comply with Wisconsin fishing regulations.

Angling Regulations and Prohibited Methods

Movement of Live Fish

Moving live fish away from a body of water is strictly prohibited, with the exception of minnows purchased from authorized bait dealers. However, this action must adhere to the Minnows and Bait Fish Regulations set forth by the authorities.

Limitations on Hooks, Baits, and Lures

Anglers are restricted from fishing with more than three hooks, baits, or lures at a time. The use of any method other than hook and line is prohibited unless explicitly permitted by regulations.

Supervision of Fishing Lines

Leaving any fishing line unattended is against the law, except when using licensed setlines or bank poles. When fishing in open water, anglers must remain within 100 yards of their lines at all times. Failure to promptly respond to a bite on the line is considered evidence of unattended fishing.

Prohibition of Certain Techniques

The use of unmanned aircraft systems, such as drones, for fishing purposes is illegal in all state waters. Additionally, the technique known as "jug" fishing, involving the use of free-floating or remote-controlled devices with attached hook and line, is prohibited.

Prohibited Fishing Gear

The possession or use of spears, snag hooks, gill nets, trammel nets, hoop nets, or fish traps is generally prohibited, unless specifically authorized by relevant authorities. Unlicensed setlines, bank poles, and trotlines are also prohibited on the water.

Restrictions on Bait Size and Rigging

Using a minnow that exceeds 8 inches in length for fishing is prohibited unless employing a "quick-strike rig" or a "non-offset circle hook." Quick-strike rigs involve attaching one or more treble hooks to the minnow's body behind the head. A non-offset circle hook must have a curved shape with the tip perpendicular to the shank.

Prohibited Fishing Methods

Snagging, foul-hooking, or attempting to hook fish anywhere other than in the mouth is strictly prohibited. Anglers are not allowed to keep foul-hooked, snagged, or fish not hooked in the mouth.

Additional Prohibitions

Taking fish by hand is limited to rough fish, catfish, and bullheads. Using firearms, air guns, or similar devices for fishing purposes is illegal. Fishing with a hook and line while operating a dip net from a boat or while in possession of a dip net is also prohibited. Note that a landing net is not considered a dip net.

Restrictions on Equipment and Tagging

The use of a sinker release device while fishing is not permitted. Furthermore, tagging or marking and releasing fish without prior authorization from the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) is against regulations.

Regulations on Bait Usage

Disposal of Unused Bait

It is illegal to release unused bait into Wisconsin's lakes, ponds, rivers, and streams. Anglers must properly dispose of any unused bait to prevent the introduction of non-native species or potential ecological disruptions.

Restrictions on Live Crayfish

Possessing live crayfish while fishing or while possessing angling equipment on any water body is prohibited, except for certain exceptions in the Mississippi River and outlying waters. Anglers should be aware of specific regulations regarding crayfish in these areas.

Limitations on Bait Types

Using goldfish, gobies, or alewife in any form for bait in state waters is prohibited, except for alewife, which may be used on Lake Michigan, Green Bay, and their tributary streams up to the first dam or lake. Anglers should adhere to these restrictions to protect native species and maintain ecological balance.

Collection of Insect Larvae

Removing insect larvae from a trout stream is generally prohibited. However, licensed anglers may collect insect larvae or nymphs by hand (without the use of seines or nets) during the open trout season for immediate personal use as bait in the same stream. All unused larvae and nymphs must be returned to the stream before leaving.

Restrictions on Fish Eggs

Taking fish eggs for bait from undersized fish or fish caught during the closed season for that species is prohibited. Fish eggs may only be removed from legal-sized fish, and the fish must be returned to the water afterward, counting toward the angler's daily bag limit. Transporting live fish eggs away from the water is also prohibited.

Prohibition on Using Gamefish as Bait

Using gamefish as bait is only permitted if they meet any length restrictions for the water body being fished and are included in the angler's daily bag limit for that species. Anglers should ensure compliance with size and bag limit regulations when using gamefish as bait.

Restrictions on Bait Possession

Possessing any bait on waters where only the use of artificial lures is authorized is against the law. Anglers should be aware of specific water bodies where artificial lures are the only permitted method and refrain from possessing any bait while fishing in these areas.

Regulations on Seasons, Bag Limits, Length Limits, and Possession Limits

Compliance with Seasonal Restrictions

It is unlawful to fish for a species of fish during its closed season, including catch and release fishing. Anglers must adhere to the specified open seasons for each fish species to ensure sustainable management of fish populations.

Adherence to Length Limits

Possessing a fish that exceeds the maximum length limit or falls below the minimum length limit established for the waters being fished is prohibited. Anglers should be aware of and comply with length restrictions to protect fish stocks and promote healthy populations.

Limits on Daily Bag and Total Daily Bag

Taking, catching, killing, or fishing for any variety of fish in excess of the daily bag limit or total daily bag limit is illegal. Anglers must respect bag limits to prevent overexploitation of fish populations and maintain sustainable fisheries.

Prohibition on Group Bagging

Group bagging, where an angler catches a limit of fish and transfers them to another person, is not allowed. Fish received in such transactions are considered part of the recipient's possession limit but do not count toward their daily bag limit unless possessed while on the water, bank, shore, or ice.

Restrictions on Possession Limits

Possessing more than the possession limit (twice the total daily bag limit) at any time and location is prohibited, except in specific cases such as Wisconsin-Michigan boundary waters where only one total daily bag limit can be possessed. The possession limit for trout in inland waters is 10.

Transporting Fish with Length Limits

Transporting fish subject to a length limit requires keeping the carcasses of the fish with the fillet, ensuring the skin and scales remain intact on the fillets to demonstrate compliance with length restrictions.

Prohibition on Sorting or Culling

Sorting or culling fish, except as authorized under certain bass fishing tournament permits, is against regulations. Any fish taken into possession that are not immediately released count towards the angler's daily bag limit, even if released later. "Culling" refers to releasing a fish after holding it in possession to be replaced with another fish.

Restrictions on Fishing in Trout Streams

Fishing in trout streams for any species of fish when the trout season is closed is prohibited, except for the taking of rough fish by hand. Anglers should be aware of trout stream closures and adhere to regulations to protect trout populations during sensitive periods.

Regulations on Restricted Fishing Areas

Permit Requirement for Fishing Tournaments

Sponsoring a fishing tournament that requires a permit without obtaining the necessary permit from the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) is illegal. Anglers organizing fishing tournaments must ensure compliance with permit regulations set forth by the DNR.

Fishing in Fish Refuges

Fishing in fish refuges is strictly prohibited. These areas are clearly marked with "No Fishing" signs by the DNR or the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Anglers should respect these designations to protect vulnerable fish populations and their habitats.

Proximity to Fishways, Locks, and Dams

Fishing within 200 feet of a fishway, lock, or dam is prohibited unless the area is not posted otherwise. However, fish may be taken by hook and line in these areas if not specifically prohibited. Note that rough fish may be taken by hand year-round or by hand-held spear from June 1 to August 31 where spearing is allowed within 200 feet of a fishway, lock, or dam. However, it is not legal to take rough fish by hand or by spearing within 200 feet of a fishway, lock, or dam located on Wisconsin boundary waters with Iowa, Michigan, or Minnesota.

Fishing Near DNR Nets or Weirs

Fishing within 500 feet of any DNR net or weir when the area is posted by the DNR is prohibited. Anglers should be aware of and respect these posted areas to avoid interfering with DNR operations and to ensure the proper management of fish populations.

Additional Regulations

Stocking Fish

Stocking fish into Wisconsin waters, including private ponds, without obtaining a stocking permit is illegal. Anglers or individuals interested in stocking fish must first obtain the necessary permit to ensure proper management and conservation of fish populations.

Disposal of Fish Carcasses and Waste

Depositing fish carcasses or parts, including entrails or other waste, into Wisconsin waters or on the bank or shore of any water body is prohibited. Proper disposal methods should be followed to prevent environmental contamination and maintain water quality.

Requirements for Holding Live Fish

Using or possessing a box or container to hold live fish in any state water requires attaching a legible tag bearing the owner or user’s name and address or DNR customer ID number to the container. However, containers and live boxes used by anglers while fishing are exempt from this requirement.

Prohibition on Buying, Selling, or Trading Game Fish

It is illegal to buy, sell, or trade any game fish in Wisconsin. However, selling rough fish is permitted. Selling rough fish to anyone other than the final consumer requires a wholesale fish dealer license unless the seller holds a commercial fishing license.

Licensing for Bait Dealers

Buying, selling, or trading minnows, frogs, or crayfish for use as bait without a bait dealer license is prohibited, except for residents under 16 years of age. Individuals engaged in such activities must obtain the necessary bait dealer license to ensure compliance with regulations.

Transporting Live Rough Fish and Invasive Species

Transporting live rough fish (excluding suckers purchased for bait) or invasive species into or within the state without a permit from the DNR is illegal. Proper measures should be taken to ensure that rough fish, including invasive species like Asian carp, are dead and incapable of being revived before transportation. This may involve evisceration or similar actions to ensure the fish are dead.

Reporting Requirements

Withholding catch and fishing effort information when interviewed by authorized DNR creel clerks is prohibited. Anglers must provide accurate and timely information to assist in fisheries management and conservation efforts.

Bass Management Zones

The Northern and Southern Bass Management Zones in Wisconsin delineate different regulations for harvesting largemouth and smallmouth bass. While the statewide regulations apply, exceptions may exist based on county-specific regulations. Here's an overview:

Northern Zone

Wisconsin Fishing General Information

In the Northern Zone, which includes specific counties, the regulations for largemouth and smallmouth bass harvesting are as follows:

  • May 6 to March 3, 2024: Largemouth bass harvest is permitted. Anglers may keep five largemouth bass, each measuring at least 14 inches.
  • June 17 to March 3, 2024: Smallmouth bass harvest is allowed. Anglers may keep a combination of five largemouth or smallmouth bass, each measuring at least 14 inches.
  • All other times of year: Catch and release only for both largemouth and smallmouth bass.

Southern Zone

In the Southern Zone, which also includes specific counties, the regulations for largemouth and smallmouth bass harvesting are slightly different:

  • May 6 to March 3, 2024: Both largemouth and smallmouth bass harvest is permitted. Anglers may keep five largemouth or smallmouth bass in combination, each measuring at least 14 inches.
  • All other times of year: Catch and release only for both largemouth and smallmouth bass.

Ceded Territory

Wisconsin Fishing General Information

The Ceded Territory, encompassing 22,400 square miles of northern Wisconsin, has special fisheries regulations due to Chippewa off-reservation treaty rights. Some waters within this territory may have more restrictive bag or length limits. Anglers should check for public notices at access points for specific regulations in this area.

Muskellunge and Northern Pike Management Zones

The state is divided into northern and southern management zones for muskellunge and northern pike, divided by US Highway 10. Here are the regulations for each zone:

Northern Zone (Inland Waters North of Highway 10)

Wisconsin Fishing General Information

  • Muskellunge Season & Limits: May 27 to December 31 (on open water only). Anglers may keep only one muskellunge, measuring at least 40 inches.
  • Northern Pike Season & Limits: May 6 to March 3, 2024. Anglers may keep five northern pike of any length.

Southern Zone (Inland Waters South of Highway 10/Waldo Blvd)

  • Muskellunge Season & Limits: May 6 to December 31. Anglers may keep only one muskellunge, measuring at least 40 inches.
  • Northern Pike Season & Limits: May 6 to March 3, 2024. Anglers may keep only two northern pike, each measuring at least 26 inches.

Responsible Release Guidance

To enhance the health of released fish and promote sustainable angling practices, please adhere to the following guidelines:

1. Fishing Conditions

Consider the impact of extreme water temperatures on fish health when planning to release your catch. High temperatures can increase stress levels in fish, potentially affecting their survival after release.

2. Reeling In The Fish

Retrieve the fish as quickly as possible to minimize stress. Protracted fights can exhaust fish, reducing their chances of survival upon release.

3. Handling The Fish

Minimize handling time and keep the fish in the water whenever feasible. Use wet hands or wet gloves to handle the fish, as dry surfaces can damage their protective mucous layer and skin.

4. Unhooking The Fish

If the fish is deeply hooked or swallowing the hook, consider cutting the line close to the hook rather than attempting to remove it. This minimizes injury to the fish and improves its chances of survival.

5. Reviving The Fish

Gently support the fish in the water and allow it to recover. Rocking the fish from side to side can help it regain its balance. Release the fish when it begins to show signs of revived strength and is able to swim away on its own.

Anglers' Society

Welcome to the Anglers' Society, Celebrating Exceptional Catches!

Membership Categories

Join the ranks of anglers in our Live Release, Kept Fish, or Mixed Bag categories. Apply now and become part of a vibrant community dedicated to the art of sport fishing. For full details, explore our website at dnr.wi.gov/topic/fishing/anglersclub.

Artificial Bait Guidelines

Know the regulations: only artificial lures are permitted. These include spoons, spinners, plugs, and various synthetic materials. Remember, no natural or organic substances, except for specific materials like hair, feathers, cork, wood, and rubber. Liquid scents on artificial lures are allowed in waters where only artificial bait is permitted.

Boating Safety

Safety first on the water! Ensure every person onboard has a properly sized personal flotation device. For comprehensive boating regulations, visit dnr.wi.gov and search "boating regulations" or call 608-266-2141. Need to register your boat? Find the Boat Registration Application form 9400-193 online or request it by calling 1-888-936-7463.

Camping and Wood Removal

Camp responsibly! Camping on state-owned lands is only permitted in designated areas. Avoid moving firewood to protect Wisconsin's forests from invasive pests. Removing driftwood from lakes or state-owned lands requires a permit from the DNR. Contact your local DNR office for more information.

Responsible Catch and Release

Handle fish with care! Minimize stress on released fish and those undersized by handling them quickly and gently. Utilize quick-strike rigs for live release to minimize harm. Learn more about responsible catch and release practices at wi.gov/topic/fishing/outreach/responsiblerelease.html.

Catfish Harvest Methods

Harvest catfish ethically! Channel and flathead catfish may be harvested by bowfishing or by hand, subject to current regulations outlined in the Guide to Wisconsin Spearing, Netting, and Bait Harvest Regulations, 2023-2024.

Clamming Regulations

Respect clamming regulations! There's no open season for live clams in inland waters, except for boundary and outlying waters. Possessing live mussels or transporting zebra or quagga mussels without a permit is illegal. Stay informed at dnr.wi.gov/topic/fishing.

Daily Bag Limits

Understand bag limits! The daily bag limit dictates the maximum number of fish you can possess from a single waterbody in one day. The total daily bag limit allows you to combine catches from multiple waters until reaching the overall limit for the day. Be mindful not to exceed the daily limit for each waterbody you fish. For instance, if a lake has a 3-walleye limit, you cannot fish another lake with a 2-walleye limit while still possessing the walleye from the first lake.

Total Daily Bag Limit (Catfish) - For example, most waters have a daily bag limit of 10 catfish (p. 62), but the total daily bag limit is 25. You can aggregate catches from multiple waters, provided you adhere to individual waterbody limits.

Wisconsin Fish Species Bag Limits

Stay informed about bag limits for Wisconsin's diverse fish species:

Catfish

  • Total Daily Bag Limit: 25 in total; only one may be a flathead catfish if fishing Winnebago system waters.

Cisco, Whitefish, and Hybrids

  • Inland Waters: 10 in total
  • Outlying Waters: 10 in total

Lake Sturgeon

  • Per Season: 1

Largemouth and Smallmouth Bass

  • Total: 5 in total

Muskellunge

  • Total: 1

Northern Pike

  • North of U.S. Hwy 10: 5 in total
  • South of U.S. Hwy 10: 2 in total

Panfish (Bluegill, Pumpkinseed, Yellow Perch, White and Black Crappie)

  • Total: 25 in total

Rock Bass, White and Yellow Bass, Bullheads, and Rough Fish

  • Limit: None

Ruffe and Gobies (and other nonnative detrimental fish)

  • Limit: 0, but one of each may be killed and possessed for immediate delivery to a DNR Service Center or regional office.

Shovelnose Sturgeon

  • Total: 3

Walleye, Sauger, and Hybrid (Saugeye)

  • Total: 5 in total

Crayfish Regulations

  • License Requirement: A fishing or small game license is necessary to take crayfish, unless under age 16.
  • Possession of Live Crayfish: Not permitted while angling on inland waters except the Mississippi River.
  • Handling Non-native Species: Any non-native crayfish species must be immediately killed.
  • Traps and Equipment: Traps should conform to regulations regarding size and dimensions.
  • Taking Methods: By hand, minnow seines, minnow dip nets, and specific crayfish traps.
  • Bait Regulations: Restrictions apply to the use of fish parts as bait.
  • Floats or Markers: Specifications exist for floats used to locate traps.

Endangered and Threatened (E/T) Species Regulations

Protect Wisconsin's endangered and threatened species with these essential regulations:

Endangered Fish Species

  • Include: Skipjack herring, crystal darter, gravel chub, bluntnose darter, starhead topminnow, goldeye, striped shiner, black redhorse, pallid shiner, and slender madtom.
  • Prohibited Actions: Without a permit, it is illegal to take, possess, transport, or sell any species listed on the Wisconsin Endangered and Threatened Species List.
  • Information Resource: Visit dnr.wi.gov/topic/endangered resources for additional listed species information.

Frogs Regulations

Understand the regulations governing Wisconsin's native frog species:

Open Season

  • Duration: From the Saturday nearest May 1 through Dec. 31.
  • Limit: Up to five frogs may be taken and possessed without a license.
  • Non-resident Harvest: No non-resident harvest or possession allowed, except for fishing bait.
  • Bait Collection: More than five frogs may be collected for use as fishing bait, with restrictions.
  • Commercial Activities: Licensed bait dealers and registered fish farmers may possess and sell frogs for bait.
  • Prohibited Methods: It is illegal to take frogs by firearms or airguns.

Turtles Regulations

Adhere to regulations concerning Wisconsin's turtle species:

License Requirement

  • All Collectors: Residents and non-residents must possess specific licenses.
  • Season: Open from July 15 through Nov. 30.
  • Protected Species: Some species are protected and may not be harvested.

Possession Limits

  • Snapping Turtles and Softshell Turtles: Three statewide, except on the Mississippi River, where limits differ.
  • Other Turtle Species: Five in total, excluding endangered or threatened species.

Sale Regulations

  • Native Amphibians and Reptiles: Generally, selling is prohibited, with exceptions for certain species and circumstances.
  • Dead Turtles: Legal to sell during the open season in Wisconsin.

Size Limits

  • Snapping Turtles: Minimum 12" and maximum 16" carapace length.
  • Other Turtles: No size limits.

Harvesting Methods

  • Permitted Methods: Hand, dip net, hook and line, set line, set or bank poles, and specific trap types.
  • Regulations: Setlines and traps must comply with fishing rules.
  • Bait Restrictions: Limitations apply to the use of certain baits for turtles.

Hoop Net Trap Specifications

Ensure compliance with hoop net trap specifications for effective and lawful trapping:

  • Material: Traps must be constructed of stretchable fabric, such as nylon, with a minimum mesh stretch of 6 inches.
  • Wire Mesh Prohibition: Wire mesh is strictly prohibited.
  • Identification Tag: Each trap must bear a metal tag with the operator's name and address, visibly attached above the water's surface. Only the identified operator is authorized to tend these traps.
  • Exposure Requirement: Hoops must be set a minimum of 2 inches above the water's surface.
  • Daily Inspection: Traps must be checked daily, and entrapped contents removed promptly after being set in all waters.

Game Fish, Rough Fish, and Minnows Definitions

Understand the classifications of fish species for regulatory purposes:

Game Fish

  • Encompass all fish varieties, excluding rough fish and minnows.

Rough Fish

  • Include suckers, common carp, Asian carp (silver, bighead, black, and grass), goldfish, redhorse, freshwater drum, burbot, bowfin, gar, buffalo, lamprey, alewife, gizzard shad, smelt, mooneye, and carpsuckers.

Minnows

  • Encompass suckers, mud minnow, madtom, stonecat, killifish, topminnow, silverside, sticklebacks, trout perch, darters, sculpins, and all species in the minnow family, excluding goldfish and carp.

Health Advisory for Eating Fish

Stay informed about health advisories regarding fish consumption:

Statewide Mercury Advisory

  • Recommendation: Consume fish moderately, with one or two servings per week benefiting health. Some waters may have more restrictive advisories based on mercury levels.
  • Additional Information: Consult the fish consumption advisory booklet for specific recommendations.

PCB Advisory

  • Concern: PCBs are commonly found in industrialized river systems and the Great Lakes.
  • Guidance: Check the advisory booklet for safe consumption recommendations, including trimming fatty areas and proper cooking methods.

PFOS Advisory

  • Concern: PFOS, a type of PFAS, present in various products, including non-stick cookware and firefighting foam.
  • Risk Mitigation: Follow advisory recommendations to minimize exposure and ensure safe consumption practices.

Ice Fishing Regulations

Stay informed about regulations governing ice fishing to ensure compliance and responsible angling:

  • Statewide Restrictions: Refer to page 8 for comprehensive fishing regulations.
  • Hole Size Limit: Fishing holes cut through the ice cannot exceed 12" across.
  • Enclosed Shelter Requirements:
    • Doors must be readily opened from the outside while occupied.
    • Locked only when unoccupied and not in use.
    • Owner's name and address or DNR Customer ID must be affixed outside in block lettering.
    • Occupied shelters are exempt from this requirement.
  • Shelter Removal:
    • Portable shelters must be removed daily when not occupied or in use.
    • Specific removal dates apply for different waters and regions.

Invasive Species Prevention

Combat the spread of aquatic invasive species with these preventative measures:

  • Inspect, Remove, Drain:
    • Inspect boats, trailers, and equipment.
    • Remove any attached aquatic plants or animals.
    • Drain all water from boats, motors, and equipment.
  • Transportation Guidelines:
    • Live fish should never be moved away from a waterbody.
    • Minnows may be transported under certain conditions, as outlined.
  • Purchase Considerations:
    • Minnows should be bought from Wisconsin bait dealers.
    • Leftover minnows usage guidelines are provided.

Minnows and Bait Fish Regulations

Understand the regulations governing the collection, possession, and usage of minnows and bait fish for angling purposes:

Transport Guidelines:

  • Live minnows purchased from Wisconsin bait dealers or registered fish farms may be transported away from a waterbody under specific conditions:
    1. Anglers can reuse purchased minnows on the same waterbody.
    2. Minnows may be taken elsewhere if no lake or river water or other fish were added to the container.
    3. Minnows may be transported for use as dead bait using approved preservation methods.

Quantity Limits:

  • Possession of more than 600 minnows is illegal, except for licensed bait dealers and residents under 16 selling minnows for fishing bait.
  • Nonresidents are prohibited from selling minnows, crayfish, or frogs as bait.
  • Residents aged 16 or older must have a bait dealer's license to sell minnows, crayfish, or frogs.
  • Residents under 16 may possess up to 5,000 of each species and sell less than $500 annually without a bait dealer's license.

Harvesting and Usage:

  • Bait dealers and residents under 16 must have a wild bait harvest permit to harvest bait minnows.
  • Only licensed bait dealers with the required permits may use minnow seines or dip nets in inland trout streams.
  • During the open trout season, individuals without a bait dealer's license can use a maximum of three minnow traps in trout streams, but these minnows may not be transported away alive.
  • Minnow traps are prohibited in trout streams during the closed season.
  • Bait-minnow harvest is prohibited on all waters affected by Viral Hemorrhagic Septicemia (VHS).

Approved Harvesting Methods:

  • Minnows may be taken using the following methods:
    1. Hook and line.
    2. Seines no longer than 35 feet with a mesh no larger than half an inch stretch in inland waters. Fifty-foot seines are permitted in Minnesota and Iowa boundary waters.
    3. Dip nets no larger than eight feet in diameter or square.
    4. Traps no longer than 24 inches with a throat measuring one and a half inches or less.

Motor Trolling Regulations

Definition:

  • Motor trolling involves trailing a lure, bait, or similar device to attract or catch fish from a boat propelled by a motor, sail, or being towed.

Legal Guidelines:

  • Motor trolling is permitted on all inland waters with specific regulations:
    • One hook, bait, or lure per person with a maximum of three lines trolled per boat.
    • Alternatively, three hooks, baits, or lures per person with no maximum number of lines per boat.
  • County-specific trolling regulations are outlined in the Special Regulations—Listed by County.
  • Anglers holding a Trolling Disability Permit can use an electric trolling motor with up to three hooks, baits, or lures per person on any water.

Native American Reservations

Regulations Overview:

  • Native American reservations in Wisconsin are subject to federal, state, and tribal law.
  • Anglers should inquire about current tribal policies on natural resources use before entering a reservation for hunting or fishing activities.

Panfish Definition

Species Included:

  • Panfish species include bluegill, pumpkinseed, black and white crappie, yellow perch, green sunfish, warmouth, and orangespotted sunfish.

Position Fishing

Method Description:

  • Position fishing allows anglers to fish from a boat with the fishing line extending vertically into the water while the boat is maneuvered using a motor to position over underwater structures.
  • This method is permitted statewide in all waters.

Record Fish Protocol

Steps to Follow:

  • If a fish is potentially a state record:
    • Do not clean or freeze the fish.
    • Keep the fish cool, preferably on ice.
    • Weigh the fish on a certified scale witnessed by an observer.
    • Contact the nearest DNR office to identify the fish species and determine if it qualifies as a state record.

Fish Refuges

Purpose:

  • Fish refuges provide additional protection for fish during critical times of their lives, such as spawning or development.

Regulations:

  • Refuges are typically established to protect spawning fish or nursery areas.
  • All refuges are clearly marked with No Fishing signs from the DNR or US Fish and Wildlife Service.
  • It is illegal to enter or disturb, take, catch, capture, kill, or fish for fish in any manner within a posted refuge.
  • Some refuges operate year-round, while others have seasonal angler access restrictions.
  • Anglers should contact their local fisheries biologist for detailed information on refuges in their area.

Establishing Residency

Eligibility Criteria:

  • Individuals are eligible for a resident license or a nonresident license at the resident fee if they meet the following conditions:
    • Maintain permanent residence and have lived in Wisconsin for at least 30 days immediately before applying for a license. Property ownership and payment of property tax alone do not establish residency.
    • Factors such as voting location, payment of personal income taxes, or obtaining a driver's license also influence residency.
    • Individuals aged 16-17 with a parent who is a Wisconsin resident.
    • Non-residents serving in the U.S. Armed Forces stationed in Wisconsin or were Wisconsin residents upon joining the service.
    • Full-time non-resident students at any Wisconsin public or private college or university offering degrees.
    • Foreign citizens temporarily residing in Wisconsin while attending a Wisconsin high school or agricultural short course in the UW system.

Rough Fish Regulations

Permitted Methods:

  • Rough fish may be taken by hand, hook and line, spear, and bow and arrow/crossbow in some counties.
  • Refer to the Guide to Wisconsin Spearing, Netting, and Bait Harvest Regulations, 2023-2024 for specific regulations in each county.

Definition:

  • Rough fish include suckers (unless listed as threatened or endangered), common carp, invasive carp, goldfish, freshwater drum, burbot, bowfin, gar, sea lamprey, alewife, gizzard shad, rainbow smelt, and mooneye.

Seasonal Restrictions:

  • Fishing by hook and line is prohibited in trout streams during the closed trout season.
  • Unless posted otherwise, hook and line fishing and hand-taking of rough fish are permitted year-round. Hand-held spear fishing is allowed from June 1 to Aug. 31 within 200 feet of a fishway, lock, or dam where spearing is allowed.

Handling and Disposal:

  • Rough fish taken by hand or hook and line may be returned to the water.
  • Rough fish taken by spear or bow and arrow must not be returned to the water and should be disposed of properly.
  • Dispose of rough fish by eviscerating them (removing entrails), cutting the gills, or taking similar actions to ensure they are dead before transportation.
  • Asian carp, such as bighead carp, black carp, silver carp, and grass carp, must be eviscerated or otherwise rendered dead before transportation to prevent their survival.

Transportation Restrictions:

  • Transporting live Asian carp is illegal without a state permit from the DNR and a federal permit from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
  • Any fish, even if held out of water but capable of revival when returned to water, is considered live and subject to transportation restrictions.

Tagged Fish Protocol

Identification and Reporting:

  • DNR fisheries biologists tag fish for research purposes.
  • Anglers catching tagged fish should notify the nearest DNR office with the tag number, catch details (date, location, length, weight), and whether the fish was kept or released.
  • If the fish is kept, send in the tag; if released, record the tag number.
  • By providing contact information, anglers can receive information about the tagged fish.
  • Unauthorized catching, tagging, marking, or attaching objects to fish and releasing them is illegal without prior authorization from the department. Visit dnr.wi.gov and search "tagged fish" for additional information.

Tournament Permits

Requirements:

  • A permit from the DNR is necessary to conduct a fishing tournament if:
    • The tournament occurs in specified waters.
    • Participants compete for prizes.
    • Any of the following criteria are met:
      • 20 or more boats or 100 or more participants are involved.
      • Trout species in classified trout streams are included.
      • It's a catch-hold-release tournament following statewide bass regulations or with an off-site weigh-in.
      • The total prize value equals or exceeds $10,000.

Application Process:

  • Application fees, varying based on tournament type and prize amounts, must be submitted with the application.
  • More information on tournament rules and application fees can be found online at dnr.wi.gov/topic/fishing/fishingtournaments/.
  • Applications can also be submitted online.
  • Tournament results must be reported using provided forms and sent to DNR Fishing Tournaments, PO Box 7921, Madison, WI 53707.

Urban And Community Fishing

Definition:

  • Urban fishing waters are small lakes and ponds under 25 acres, cooperatively managed with municipalities and accessible to the public.

Seasonal Regulations:

  • Year-round open season for all anglers, except for a special season from (March 11 - April 28, 2023; March 9 - April 26, 2024), limited to persons 15 years and younger and certain disabled anglers.
  • No length limits.
  • Daily bag limit: three trout, one gamefish (largemouth bass, smallmouth bass, walleye, sauger, and northern pike), and 10 panfish (bluegill, crappie, pumpkinseed, yellow perch, and bullhead).

Posted Waters:

  • Various locations across different counties, including Kenosha, Milwaukee, Outagamie, Ozaukee, Racine, Rock, Sheboygan, Vilas, Walworth, Washington, and Waukesha counties.
  • For fish stocking and regulation information, call the Urban Waters Fishing Hotline at 414/263-8494 or toll-free at 1-888-FISH-LNE (1-888-347-4563) from Feb. 15 to Nov. 15.

Year-Round Season and No Length Limits:

  • Limited to persons 15 years and younger and certain disabled anglers.
  • Daily bag limit: three trout, one gamefish (largemouth bass, smallmouth bass, walleye, sauger, and northern pike), and 10 panfish (bluegill, crappie, pumpkinseed, yellow perch, and bullhead).
  • Posted waters include Manger Lagoon (Brown County), Token Creek ponds and Syene ponds (Dane County), Remington Lake (Langlade County), and Mirror Lake (Lincoln County).

Viral Hemorrhagic Septicemia (VHS)

Overview:

  • VHS, or Viral Hemorrhagic Septicemia, is a severe fish disease discovered in Wisconsin in 2007.
  • While not harmful to humans, VHS can infect various fish species in Wisconsin waters, leading to significant fish mortality.

Prevention Measures:

  • To learn about VHS and current regulations aimed at reducing the spread of this harmful fish disease, visit dnr.wi.gov/topic/fishing/vhs.

Warden Authority

Responsibilities:

  • Conservation wardens have the authority to enter private land at any time while performing their duties.
  • They are empowered to seize fish taken or possessed unlawfully, along with any equipment involved in the violation.
  • However, wardens do not enforce trespass laws.

General Inland Waters Fishing Regulations

Fish Species and Seasons:

  • Largemouth Bass (LMB) Harvest:
    • Season: May 6 – March 3
    • Daily Limit: 5
    • Minimum Length: 14 inches
  • Smallmouth Bass (SMB) Harvest:
    • Northern Zone: June 17 – March 3
      • Daily Limit: 5 in total with LMB
      • Minimum Length: 14 inches
    • Other Inland Waters: May 6 – March 3
      • Daily Limit: 5 in total with LMB
      • Minimum Length: 14 inches
  • Largemouth and Smallmouth Bass Statewide:
    • Catch and release only during all other times of the year.
  • Rock, Yellow (Striped), and White Bass:
    • Open all year with no specified daily limit or minimum length.
  • Panfish (Bluegill, Pumpkinseed, Sunfish, Crappie, Yellow Perch):
    • Open all year
    • Daily Limit: 25 in total
  • Bullheads and Rough Fish:
    • Open all year with no specified daily limit or minimum length.
  • Catfish (Channel, Flathead):
    • Open all year
    • Daily Limit: 10 in total
  • Cisco and Whitefish:
    • Open all year
    • Daily Limit: 10 in total
  • Musky (Includes Hybrids):
    • Northern Zone: May 27 – Dec. 31 (on open water only)
      • Daily Limit: 1
      • Minimum Length: 40 inches
    • Southern Zone: May 6 – Dec. 31
      • Daily Limit: 1
      • Minimum Length: 40 inches
  • Northern Pike:
    • Northern Zone: May 6 – March 3
      • Daily Limit: 5
      • No minimum length
    • Southern Zone: May 6 – March 3
      • Daily Limit: 2
      • Minimum Length: 26 inches

Other Regulations:

  • Paddlefish (Spoonbill Catfish):
    • No open season – no fishing allowed for paddlefish.
  • Ruffe, White Perch, Gobies, and Other Nonnative Detrimental Fish Species:
    • No open season – one may be killed and possessed for transport to a DNR office with a 0 bag limit.

Lake Sturgeon:

  • Chippewa River:
    • West Fork downstream from Moose Lake Dam (Sawyer Co.) and East Fork (Ashland Co.) downstream to the confluence of the Mississippi River (Pepin Co.), including sloughs, bayous, and flowages upstream to the first highway or railroad bridge.
  • Flambeau River:
    • North Fork from Turtle-Flambeau Dam (Iron Co.) and South Fork (Price Co.) downstream to the confluence with the Chippewa River (Rusk Co.), including sloughs, bayous, and flowages upstream to the first dam or highway bridge.
  • Butternut Lake (Price Co.)
  • Jump River:
    • From the North and South Forks to the confluence with the Chippewa River (Rusk Co.)
  • Yellow, Little Yellow, and Danbury Flowage Chain of Lakes (Burnett Co.)
  • Wisconsin River below the Wisconsin Dells Dam (Columbia Co.) downstream.
  • Season: Sept. 2 – Sept. 30
  • Daily Limit: 1 per season
  • Minimum Length: 60 inches
  • Note: All Lake Sturgeon taken with hook and line must be tagged and registered.

Shovelnose Sturgeon:

  • Lower Wisconsin River:
    • From the Prairie du Sac Dam downstream
  • Open all year
  • Daily Limit: 3
  • Minimum Length: None
  • Note: Closed all year on all other inland waters—no fishing for shovelnose sturgeon.

Walleye and Sauger (Includes Hybrids):

  • Most waters in the Ceded Territory (map and further information):
    • Season: May 6 – March 3
    • Daily Limit: 3 in total
    • Minimum Length: 15" but less than 20" may be kept; with one over 24 inches
  • Most other inland waters:
    • Season: May 6 – March 3
    • Daily Limit: 5 in total
    • Minimum Length: 15 inches

Wisconsin-Michigan Boundary Waters Fishing Restrictions

Boundary Waters Covered:

  • Includes the Brule, Menominee, and Montreal rivers and their sloughs and flowages.
  • Portion of Green Bay at the mouth of the Menominee River between the “government pier” or break wall on the south and the “lighthouse pier” or break wall on the north, and a line connecting the eastern-most points of those breakwaters on the east.
  • Lakes: Basin, Big, Big Bad Water, Big Bateau, Crampton, Crystal, Cyrus, Lac Vieux Desert, Little Presque Isle, Mamie, Mill, Norwood, Plum, Roach, Smoky, State Line, Tenderfoot, and West Bay lakes.

Fishing Restrictions:

  • Anglers must carry a paper copy of their license while fishing the Wisconsin-Michigan boundary waters.
  • Each angler may fish with not more than a total of three baits, lures, or hooks.
  • Daily bag limit must not be exceeded. The possession limit is the same as the daily bag limit.
  • Goldfish, alewife, and live crayfish are prohibited as bait.
  • Ice fishing shelters must display angler name and address when not occupied.
  • Fishing within 200 feet of any fishway, lock, or dam must be done using hook and line only.
  • Motor trolling is permitted with 3 hooks, baits, or lures per person, except in Vilas and Iron County boundary waters, where trolling is allowed with 1 hook, bait, or lure per person and a maximum of 3 lines per boat.
  • Fishing licenses from Wisconsin or Michigan are required based on residency. Non-residents must have a license from either state.
  • Regulations may differ between states; anglers must obey the regulations of the state where they are fishing.
  • Wisconsin license holders need a valid Great Lakes Trout and Salmon stamp privilege to fish trout or salmon in the Menominee River from the Hattie Street Dam downstream to the eastern end of the breakwalls in Green Bay.

Fish Species Regulations:

  • Largemouth and Smallmouth Bass Harvest:
    • Season: June 17 – Dec. 31
    • Daily Limit: 5 in total
    • Minimum Length: 14 inches
  • Largemouth and Smallmouth Bass (Catch and Release Only):
    • All boundary waters during all other times of the year
    • Daily Limit: 0
  • Musky (Includes Hybrids):
    • Season: June 1–Dec. 31 (on open water only)
    • Daily Limit: 1
    • Minimum Length: 50 inches (some waters may have larger minimum length limits; check for signs and local inquiries)
  • Menominee River Musky:
    • Season: June 1–Dec. 31 (on open water only)
    • Daily Limit: 1
    • Minimum Length: 54 inches
  • Northern Pike:
    • Season: May 6–March 1
    • Daily Limit: 5
    • Minimum Length: None
  • Yellow Perch, White Bass, Yellow (Striped) Bass, Crappie, Bluegill, and Pumpkinseed (Sunfish):
    • Open all year
    • Daily Limit: 25 in total
    • Minimum Length: None
  • Trout and Salmon:
    • Smoky Lake, Montreal River, and Menominee River from its mouth upstream to the first dam:
      • Open all year
      • Daily Limit: 5 in total
      • Minimum Length: 10 inches
    • Brule River upstream from Hwy 2:
      • Season: April 29 – Sept. 30
      • Daily Limit: 5 in total
      • Minimum Length: Brook Trout - 8 inches, Brown Trout - 12 inches
    • Brule River downstream from Hwy 2 and other Wisconsin-Michigan Boundary Waters:
      • Season: April 29 – Sept. 30
      • Daily Limit: 5 in total
      • Minimum Length: 7 inches
  • Lake Sturgeon:
    • Upstream from the Grand Rapids Dam on the Menominee River:
      • Season: Sept. 2 – Sept. 30
      • Daily Limit: 1 per season
      • Minimum Length: 60 inches
    • Downstream from the Grand Rapids Dam on the Menominee River:
      • Season: Sept. 2 – Sept. 30
      • Daily Limit: 0 (catch and release only)
  • Walleye and Sauger (Includes Hybrids):
    • In Lakes:
      • Season: May 6 – March 1
      • Daily Limit: 5 in total
      • Minimum Length: 15 inches
    • In Rivers and Their Flowages:
      • Season: March 2 – May 5
      • Daily Limit: 1
      • Minimum Length: 15 inches
    • In Lakes (Continued):
      • Season: May 6 – March 1
      • Daily Limit: 5 in total
      • Minimum Length: 15 inches
  • Cisco and Whitefish:
    • Open all year
    • Daily Limit: 10 in total
    • Minimum Length: None
  • Ruffe:
    • No open season—one may be killed and possessed for transport to a DNR Service Center or Regional Office.
  • Catfish:
    • Open all year
    • Daily Limit: 10
    • Minimum Length: None

Wisconsin-Minnesota Boundary Waters Fishing Regulations

Fishing Restrictions:

  • Anglers must carry a paper copy of their license while fishing the Wisconsin-Minnesota boundary waters.
  • Goldfish and alewife may not be possessed or used for bait.
  • Live rusty crayfish and native species of crayfish may be used for bait on the Mississippi River ONLY—not on other Wisconsin-Minnesota boundary waters.
  • Other non-native crayfish may not be possessed live.
  • Live crayfish may not be used as bait within the federal zone of the St. Croix National Scenic Riverway.
  • It is illegal to fish using any method other than hook and line within 200 feet of any fishway, lock, or dam on the Mississippi River and within 200 feet of these structures on any other water.
  • Motor trolling is permitted on Wisconsin-Minnesota boundary waters with three hooks, baits, or lures per person and no maximum number of lines per boat.
  • Wisconsin residents need a Wisconsin fishing license and Minnesota residents need a Minnesota license to fish in these boundary waters. Residents of other states need a nonresident license from Wisconsin or Minnesota. Regulations on these waters may differ between states. You must obey the regulations of the state in which you are fishing.
  • Fishing is prohibited within 300 feet below the Red Wing Dam and Alma Dam from March 1 through April 29 and within 300 feet below the Onalaska Dam from March 15 through April 25.
  • Ice fishing: Angler name and address must be prominently displayed on ice fishing shelters (portable or otherwise) when the shelter is not occupied or otherwise in use.

Fish Species Regulations:

  • Largemouth and Smallmouth Bass:
    • St. Louis River and the St. Croix River downstream of the St. Croix Falls Dam: May 27 – March 1
      • Daily Limit: 5 in total
      • Minimum Length: 14 inches
    • St. Croix River upstream of the St. Croix Falls Dam:
      • May 27 - Sept. 10
        • Daily Limit: 5 in total
        • Minimum Length: 14 inches
      • Sept. 11 - March 1
        • Daily Limit: 0 (catch and release only)
    • Mississippi River:
      • Open all year
        • Daily Limit: 5 in total
        • Minimum Length: 14 inches
  • Catfish (Channel and Flathead):
    • St. Louis River and St. Croix River:
      • Open all year
        • Daily Limit: 10 in total
    • Mississippi River (Pools 3-9):
      • Open all year
        • Daily Limit: 10 in total
        • Only one over 30" may be kept
  • Muskellunge (Includes Hybrids):
    • Mississippi, St. Croix, and St. Louis Rivers:
      • May 27 – Nov. 30
        • Daily Limit: 1
        • Minimum Length: 50 inches
  • Northern Pike:
    • St. Croix R. downstream to Hwy 10 at Prescott: April 29 – March 1
      • Daily Limit: 5
    • Mississippi River (Pools 3-9):
      • Open all year
        • Daily Limit: 3
        • Only one over 30" may be kept
    • St. Louis River:
      • May 13 – March 1
        • Daily Limit: 2
  • Rock Bass:
    • Open all year
      • Daily Limit: 25 of each
  • Bluegill and Pumpkinseed (Sunfish):
    • Mississippi River (Pools 3-9) and St. Louis and St. Croix Rivers:
      • Open all year
        • Daily Limit: 15 in total
  • Crappie and Yellow Perch:
    • Mississippi River (Pools 3-9) and St. Louis and St. Croix Rivers:
      • Open all year
        • Daily Limit: 15 of each
  • White Bass and Yellow Bass:
    • Mississippi River (Pools 3-9) and St. Louis and St. Croix Rivers:
      • Open all year
        • Daily Limit: 10 in total
  • Lake Sturgeon (Lake sturgeon tagging and registering information):
    • Mississippi River upstream of the Red Wing Dam; St. Croix River upstream of the St. Croix Falls Dam to the dam at Gordan Flowage:
      • June 16 - March 1
        • Daily Limit: 0 (catch and release only)
    • St. Louis River and Mississippi River downstream of the Red Wing Dam:
      • June 16 - April 14
        • Daily Limit: 0 (catch and release only)
    • St. Croix River downstream from the St. Croix Falls Dam:
      • June 16 - Sept. 1
        • Daily Limit: 0 (catch and release only)
      • Sept. 2 - Sept. 30
        • Daily Limit: 1
        • Minimum Length: 60 inches
      • Oct. 1 - March 1
        • Daily Limit: 0 (catch and release only)
  • Shovelnose Sturgeon:
    • All Wisconsin-Minnesota boundary waters above the Red Wing Dam on the Mississippi River, St. Louis River, and St. Croix River:
      • June 16 - March 1
        • Daily Limit: 0 (catch and release only)
    • All Wisconsin-Minnesota boundary waters below the Red Wing Dam on the Mississippi River:
      • Open all year
        • Daily Limit: 3
  • Walleye and Sauger (Includes Hybrids):
    • St. Croix River downstream to Hwy. 10 at Prescott:
      • April 29 – March 1
        • Daily Limit: 6 in total for walleye; none for sauger
        • Minimum Length: 15" for walleye
    • St. Louis River:
      • May 13 – March 1
        • Daily Limit: 2 in total
    • Mississippi River (Pools 3-8):
      • Open all year
        • Daily Limit: 4 in total for walleye; none for sauger
        • Minimum Length: 15" for walleye, only one walleye or sauger over 20"
    • Mississippi River (Pool 9):
      • Open all year
        • Daily Limit: 6 in total for walleye; none for sauger
        • Minimum Length: 15" for walleye, walleye 20-27" must be released only one over 27"

Wisconsin-Iowa Boundary Waters (Mississippi River) Fishing Regulations

Fishing Restrictions:

  • Anglers must carry a paper copy of their license while fishing the Wisconsin-Iowa boundary waters.
  • Goldfish and alewife may not be possessed or used for bait in the Mississippi River. Live rusty crayfish and native crayfish species are legal to use.
  • All other non-native crayfish may not be possessed live.
  • It is illegal to fish using any method other than hook and line within 200 feet of any fishway, lock, or dam on the Mississippi River.
  • Motor trolling is permitted on Wisconsin-Iowa boundary waters with three hooks, baits, or lures per person and no maximum number of lines per boat.
  • Ice fishing: Angler name and address must be prominently displayed on ice fishing shelters (portable or otherwise) when not occupied or otherwise in use.
  • Wisconsin residents need a Wisconsin fishing license and Iowa residents need an Iowa fishing license to fish in these boundary waters. Residents of other states need a nonresident license from Wisconsin or Iowa. Regulations on these waters may differ between states. You must obey the regulations of the state in which you are fishing.

Fish Species Regulations:

  • Largemouth and Smallmouth Bass:
    • Open all year
      • Daily Limit: 5 in total
      • Minimum Length: 14 inches
  • Catfish (Channel and Flathead):
    • Open all year
      • No specific daily limit or minimum length
  • Northern Pike:
    • Open all year
      • Daily Limit: 5
      • No minimum length
  • Yellow Perch, Rock Bass, Crappie:
    • Open all year
      • Daily Limit: 25 of each
      • No minimum length
  • Bluegill and Pumpkinseed (Sunfish):
    • Open all year
      • Daily Limit: 25 in total
      • No minimum length
  • White Bass and Yellow Bass:
    • Open all year
      • Daily Limit: 25 in total
      • No minimum length
  • Lake Sturgeon:
    • Closed all year—there is no fishing for lake sturgeon
  • Shovelnose Sturgeon:
    • Open all year
      • No specific daily limit or minimum length
  • Walleye and Sauger (Includes Hybrids) Pools 9-12:
    • Open all year
      • Daily Limit: 6 in total for walleye
      • None for sauger
      • Minimum Length: 15" for walleye; walleye 20-27" must be released, only one over 27"

Major Green Bay Tributaries and Tributaries to Lake Michigan

Major Green Bay Tributaries:

  • Brown County:
    • Duck Creek upstream to the first dam located on the Oneida Golf and Riding Club property excluding its tributaries.
    • Suamico River upstream to CTH HS.
    • East River upstream to Hoffman Rd (CTH XX) excluding its tributaries.
  • Marinette County:
    • Peshtigo River upstream to the Peshtigo Dam.
    • Little River upstream to Radar Rd.
  • Oconto County:
    • Little Suamico River upstream to CTH J excluding tributaries.
    • Pensaukee River upstream to CTH J excluding tributaries.
    • Oconto River upstream to Stiles Dam excluding tributaries (except Little River).
    • Little River upstream to Hwy 141 excluding tributaries.

Tributaries to Lake Michigan:

  • Kenosha & Racine Counties:
    • Pike and Root rivers and their tributaries.
  • Kewaunee County:
    • Kewaunee river and its tributaries excluding Little Scarboro, Scarboro, Roger, and Casco creeks.
  • Manitowoc County:
    • Manitowoc River and its tributaries upstream to the first dam or lake.
  • Milwaukee & Ozaukee Counties:
    • Milwaukee River upstream to the Grafton Dam in the Village of Grafton and its tributaries upstream to the first dam or lake.
    • Sauk Creek and its tributaries upstream to the first dam or lake.
  • Milwaukee & Waukesha Counties:
    • Menomonee River upstream to the Lepper Dam in the Village of Menomonee Falls and its tributaries upstream to the first dam or lake.
  • Sheboygan County:
    • Sheboygan river downstream to the coast guard station and its tributaries excluding Willow creek.
  • All Bordering Counties:
    • All other tributaries to Lake Michigan upstream to the first dam or lake.

Note:

  • The Menominee River, Wisconsin/Michigan boundary waters, and the Fox River upstream to the DePere Dam, Lake Michigan are not considered tributary streams.
  • Green Bay includes Lake Michigan waters located to the west of the Green Bay - Lake Michigan Line, delineated from Northport Dock to Boyer’s Bluff light then north to the State line.

Tributary Streams to Green Bay and Lake Michigan

Fishing Regulations:

  • Alewife may be used as bait in tributaries, rivers, and ditches upstream to the first dam or lake. Live crayfish are not allowed while fishing on the tributaries.
  • Motor trolling rules can be found in the Special Regulations - Listed by County section.
  • A fishing license and a valid Great Lakes Trout and Salmon stamp privilege or a two-day Sports Fishing License are required to fish for trout and salmon in the tributaries (up to the first dam or lake).
  • All other statewide general fishing restrictions apply.
  • Refer to the 2023-2024 Wisconsin Spearing and Netting Regulations for regulations on dipnetting smelt and suckers in the tributaries.
  • From September 15 to the first Saturday of the following May, hooks with a gap size larger than one-half inch from point to shank are not allowed.

Fish Species Regulations:

  • ROUGH FISH (including suckers), ROCK BASS, WHITE BASS, YELLOW BASS, and BULLHEADS:

    • All tributaries to Green Bay upstream to the first dam or lake: May 6 – March 3, no daily limit except 600 suckers, no minimum length.
    • Tributaries to Lake Michigan and major Green Bay tributaries: Open all year, no daily limit except 600 suckers, no minimum length.
  • LARGEMOUTH BASS (LMB) HARVEST:

    • All tributaries to Green Bay and Lake Michigan: May 6 – March 3, 5 in total with SMB, minimum length 14 inches.
  • SMALLMOUTH BASS (SMB) HARVEST:

    • All tributaries to Green Bay: May 6 – March 3, 5 in total with LMB, minimum length 14 inches.
    • Tributaries to Lake Michigan north of Hwy. 29 (Door and Kewaunee counties): June 17 – March 3, 5 in total with LMB, minimum length 14 inches.
    • Tributaries to Lake Michigan south of Hwy. 29: May 6 – March 3, 5 in total with LMB, minimum length 14 inches.
    • Catch and release only at all other times of the year.
  • WALLEYE and SAUGER (INCLUDES HYBRIDS):

    • Major Green Bay tributaries and tributaries to Lake Michigan north of Waldo Blvd, Manitowoc: March 6 – May 5, 2023, 1 daily limit, minimum length 15 inches. May 6, 2023 - March 3, 2024, 5 in total, minimum length 15 inches.
    • All other tributaries and ditches to Green Bay upstream to first dam/lake: May 6, 2023 - March 3, 2024, 5 in total, minimum length 15 inches.
    • Tributaries to Lake Michigan south of Waldo Blvd, Manitowoc: Open all year, 5 in total, minimum length 15 inches.
  • MUSKELLUNGE (INCLUDES HYBRIDS):

    • Lake Michigan tributaries north of Hwy. 10: May 27–Dec 31 (on open water only), 1 daily limit, minimum length 54 inches.
    • Lake Michigan tributaries south of Hwy. 10: May 6 – Dec. 31, 1 daily limit, minimum length 40 inches.
  • BLUEGILL, PUMPKINSEED, SUNFISH, YELLOW PERCH, and CRAPPIE:

    • Tributaries to Lake Michigan: Open all year except yellow perch, which is open June 16, 2023 – April 30, 2024. Daily limit: 25 in total, but only 5 may be yellow perch, no minimum length.
    • Major Green Bay tributaries: Open all year except yellow perch, which is open May 20, 2023 – March 15, 2024. Daily limit: 25 in total, but only 15 may be yellow perch, no minimum length.
    • All other tributaries to Green Bay upstream to the first dam or lake: May 6 - March 3 except yellow perch, which is open May 20 - March 15. Daily limit: 25 in total, but only 15 may be yellow perch, no minimum length.
  • NORTHERN PIKE:

    • Tributaries to Green Bay, (except major tributaries), tributaries to Lake Michigan North of US Hwy. 10 (except Kewaunee, East and West Twin, and Ahnapee rivers) up to the first dam or lake: May 6 – March 3, daily limit: 5, no minimum length.
    • Major Green Bay tribs, Kewaunee, East/West Twin, and Ahnapee rivers up to the first dam/lake: Open all year, daily limit: 5, no minimum length.
    • Lake Michigan tributaries south of US Hwy. 10 (including the Manitowoc River): Open all year, daily limit: 2, minimum length 26 inches.
  • LAKE STURGEON:

    • No open season.
  • RUFFE and GOBIES:

    • No open season—one may be killed and taken to a WDNR office.
  • CISCO AND WHITEFISH:

    • Major Green Bay and Lake Michigan tributaries: Open all year, daily limit: 10 in total, no minimum length.
    • All other tributaries and ditches to Green Bay upstream to first dam or lake: May 6 - March 3, daily limit: 10 in total, no minimum length.
  • WHITE PERCH:

    • Tributaries to Lake Michigan and major Green Bay tributaries: Open all year, no daily limit, no minimum length.
    • All other tributaries and ditches to Green Bay upstream to the first dam or lake: May 6 – March 3, no daily limit, no minimum length.
  • CATFISH (CHANNEL and FLATHEAD):

    • Tributaries to Lake Michigan: Open all year, daily limit: 10, no minimum length.
    • Duck Creek upstream to the first dam located on the Oneida Golf and Riding Club property excluding its tributaries, Suamico River upstream to CTH HS, and the East River from the Fox River upstream to Hoffman Rd (CTH XX), Brown Co.: Open all year, daily limit: 25, no minimum length.
    • All other tributaries to Green Bay in Brown County: May 6 - March 3, daily limit: 25, no minimum length.
    • All other tributaries to Green Bay: May 6 – March 3, daily limit: 10, no minimum length.
  • TROUT and SALMON:

    • Tributaries to Lake Michigan and major Green Bay tributaries: Open all year, daily limit: 5 (lake trout, other trout, and salmon in total), minimum length 10 inches.
    • All other tributaries and ditches to Green Bay upstream to first dam or lake: May 6 – March 3.

Lake Michigan Waters Fishing Restrictions

General Regulations:

  • Lake trout may not be possessed while fishing within specific areas indicated on the map.
  • Goldfish may not be possessed or used for bait. Alewife and live native crayfish may be used for bait on Lake Michigan. Non-native crayfish may only be possessed and used if dead.
  • All ice fishing shelters must be removed daily and when not in use after the first Sunday following March 12 on Green Bay and Lake Michigan.
  • Motor trolling is permitted on Lake Michigan with three hooks, baits, or lures per person.
  • A fishing license and a Great Lakes trout and salmon stamp privilege or a valid two-day Sports Fishing License are required to fish for trout and salmon in Lake Michigan.
  • Refer to the Guide to Wisconsin Spearing, Netting and Bait Harvest Regulations, 2023–2024 for regulations on taking smelt and suckers with nets and spears.

Fishing Season and Limits:

  • LARGEMOUTH BASS and SMALLMOUTH BASS:

    • Within one-fourth mile of all islands in the Town of Washington Island: July 1 – March 3, daily limit: 5 in total, minimum length 12 inches.
    • Other Lake Michigan waters: May 6 – March 3, daily limit: 5 in total, minimum length 14 inches. Catch and release only at all other times of the year.
  • MUSKELLUNGE (INCLUDES HYBRIDS):

    • North of Waldo Boulevard, Manitowoc: May 27 – Dec. 31, daily limit: 1, minimum length 54 inches.
    • South of Waldo Boulevard, Manitowoc: May 6 – Dec. 31, daily limit: 1, minimum length 40 inches.
  • NORTHERN PIKE:

    • North of Waldo Boulevard, Manitowoc: Open all year, daily limit: 5, no minimum length.
    • South of Waldo Boulevard, Manitowoc: Open all year, daily limit: 2, minimum length 26 inches.
  • BLUEGILL, PUMPKINSEED, SUNFISH, YELLOW PERCH, and CRAPPIE:

    • Open all year for bluegill, sunfish, and crappie: Daily limit 25 in total; includes yellow perch limit, no minimum length.
    • Yellow perch in Green Bay and the Fox River: May 20, 2023 – March 15, 2024, daily limit: 15.
    • Yellow perch in Lake Michigan: June 16, 2023 – April 30, 2024, daily limit: 5.
  • LAKE STURGEON:

    • Closed all year.
  • WALLEYE and SAUGER (INCLUDES HYBRIDS):

    • Fox River from its mouth upstream to the dam at DePere: March 6, 2023 – May 5, 2023, daily limit: 1, minimum length 28 inches.
    • Lake Michigan Waters North of Waldo Boulevard, Manitowoc: March 6, 2023 – May 5, 2023, daily limit: 1, minimum length 15 inches.
    • Lake Michigan Waters South of Waldo Boulevard, Manitowoc: Open all year, daily limit: 5, minimum length 15 inches.
  • RUFFE and GOBIES:

    • Closed all year.
  • WHITE PERCH:

    • Open all year.
  • CISCO and WHITEFISH:

    • Open all year, daily limit: 10 in total.
  • LAKE TROUT:

    • Mid Lake Reef Complex: No open season.
    • Other Lake Michigan Waters: Open all year, daily limit: 5 in total with other trout and salmon, minimum length 10 inches.
  • OTHER TROUT and SALMON:

    • Open all year, daily limit: 5 in total with lake trout, minimum length 10 inches.

Fishing Restrictions on Lake Superior Waters

General Regulations:

  • Anglers must carry a paper copy of their license/stamps while fishing on Lake Superior.
  • No fishing is allowed in the refuge indicated on the map.
  • Goldfish and alewife may not be possessed or used for bait in Lake Superior. Live native crayfish may be used for bait on Lake Superior, but not on streams that flow into the lake. Non-native crayfish may only be possessed and used if dead.
  • All ice fishing shelters must be removed from Lake Superior waters by the first Sunday after March 12.
  • Motor trolling is permitted on Lake Superior with three hooks, baits or lures per person.
  • Ensure you have the appropriate fishing license and obey the fishing regulations issued by other states or provinces if fishing in Lake Superior waters under their jurisdiction.
  • A fishing license and a Great Lakes trout and salmon stamp privilege or a two-day Great Lakes (Sports) Fishing License are required to fish for trout and salmon in Lake Superior. An inland trout stamp privilege is needed to fish for trout and salmon, including steelhead, in streams flowing into Lake Superior.
  • Refer to the 2023–2024 Wisconsin Spearing, Netting, and Bait Harvest Regulations for regulations on taking smelt and other fish with nets and spears.

Fishing Season and Limits:

  • LARGEMOUTH BASS (LMB) HARVEST:

    • May 6 – March 3, daily limit: 1, minimum length 22 inches.
  • SMALLMOUTH BASS (SMB) HARVEST:

    • June 17 – March 3, daily limit: 1 in total with LMB, minimum length 22 inches. Catch and release only at all other times of the year.
  • NORTHERN PIKE:

    • Lake Superior: Open all year, daily limit: 2, minimum length 26 inches.
    • Tributaries and connected sloughs upstream to first dam or lake: May 6 – March 3, daily limit: 2, minimum length 26 inches.
  • PANFISH: BLUEGILL, PUMPKINSEED, SUNFISH, YELLOW PERCH, and CRAPPIE:

    • Open all year, daily limit: 25, no minimum length.
  • LAKE STURGEON:

    • Open all year, allowed to harvest 1 per year, minimum length 60 inches.
  • WALLEYE and SAUGER (INCLUDES HYBRIDS):

    • Open all year, daily limit: 5 in total, only 1 over 20 inches, minimum length 15 inches.
    • Tributaries and connected sloughs: May 6 – March 3, minimum length 15 inches.
  • RUFFE and GOBIES:

    • Closed all year, one may be killed and possessed for transport to a DNR office.
  • WHITE PERCH:

    • Open all year, no daily limit or minimum length.
  • CISCO and WHITEFISH (INCLUDES HYBRIDS):

    • Open all year, daily limit: 10 in total, no minimum length.
  • TROUT (RAINBOW, BROWN, BROOK, and SPLAKE):

    • Open all year, daily limit: 5 in total of which only 1 may be rainbow trout and 1 may be brook trout.
    • Minimum lengths: rainbow trout—26", brook trout—20", brown trout and splake—15".
  • LAKE TROUT only:

    • Dec. 1 to Sept. 30, daily limit: 2 in total; when harvest east of Bark Point reaches 9,500 fish, the season may be closed (no fishing for lake trout). 3 in total west of Bark Point.
    • Minimum length: 15" but only one may be longer than 25".
  • SALMON (COHO, CHINOOK, PINK, and ATLANTIC):

    • Open all year, daily limit: 5, no minimum length.

WINNEBAGO SYSTEM WATERS

Description:

The Winnebago System Waters encompass Poygan, Winneconne, Butte des Morts, and Winnebago, along with their tributaries extending from their mouths upstream to the first dam. This includes the Fox River from Lake Winnebago upstream to the dam above Princeton, as well as all its tributaries from their mouths upstream to the first dam. The Wolf River from its mouth upstream to the dam in the city of Shawano and all its tributaries from their mouths upstream to the first dam are also part of the Winnebago System Waters.

Note:

Little Lake Butte des Morts is excluded from the Winnebago System.

Fishing Regulations:

  • LARGEMOUTH and SMALLMOUTH BASS:

    • Open all year, daily limit: 5 in total, minimum length 14".
  • ROCK, YELLOW (STRIPED) and WHITE BASS:

    • Open all year, no daily limit or minimum length.
  • PANFISH: BLUEGILL, PUMPKINSEED, SUNFISH, CRAPPIE, and YELLOW PERCH:

    • Open all year, daily limit: 25 in total, no minimum length.
  • BULLHEADS (Brown, Black, and Yellow):

    • Open all year, no daily limit or minimum length.
  • ROUGH FISH:

    • Open all year, no daily limit or minimum length. (Hook and line only)
  • CHANNEL CATFISH:

    • Open all year, daily limit: 25 in total, but only 24 if one flathead catfish is possessed, no minimum length.
  • FLATHEAD CATFISH:

    • May 6 - Sept. 30, daily limit: 1, minimum length 30". Flathead catfish from 36" to 42" may not be possessed.
  • MUSKELLUNGE:

    • May 6 - Dec. 31, daily limit: 1, minimum length 50".
  • NORTHERN PIKE:

    • May 6 - March 3, daily limit: 2, minimum length 26".
  • LAKE STURGEON:

    • Hook and line fishing closed all year.
  • WALLEYE and SAUGER (INCLUDES HYBRIDS):

    • Open all year, daily limit: 3 in total; only 1 may be a sauger or hybrid, no minimum length.
Wild Advisor Pro

Disclaimer:

The legal advice provided on Wild Advisor Pro is intended as a summary of the hunting, camping, hiking, and fishing laws and regulations and does not constitute legal language or professional advice. We make every effort to ensure the information is accurate and up to date, but it should not be relied upon as legal authority. For the most current and comprehensive explanation of the laws and regulations, please consult the official government websites or a qualified legal professional. Wild Advisor Pro is not responsible for any misunderstandings or misinterpretations of the information presented and shall not be held liable for any losses, damages, or legal disputes arising from the use of this summary information. Always check with the appropriate governmental authorities for the latest information regarding outdoor regulations and compliance.