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Best Fishing Lakes in Wisconsin

Wisconsin is one of the prime destinations for freshwater fishing in the country. Part of the reason behind its popularity lies in the sheer amount of lakes spread across Wisconsin.

angler in a boat on a wisconsin lake fishing

Even though Minnesota may be called the “land of 10,000” lakes, it is, in fact, Wisconsin that officially has a little over 15,000 lakes compared to less than 12,000 in its rival state.

Furthermore, the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources places a great deal of emphasis on ensuring the waters are beaming with fish.

This ongoing effort has made Wisconsin renowned among beginner and expert anglers alike.

wisconsin fisherman holding a pike caught in a lake

So whether you’re looking to catch your first fish or set a new personal best, you’ll find that Wisconsin boasts a diverse range of fishing options.

With so many lakes throughout the state, the biggest challenge becomes deciding which spot will give you the best bite for your buck.

Below, we’ll talk about the absolute best fishing lakes Wisconsin has to offer.

Top 14 Wisconsin Fishing Lakes

  1. Chippewa Lake
  2. Big Saint Germain Lake
  3. Fox Lake
  4. Lake Michigan
  5. Lake Winnebago
  6. Lake Wisconsin
  7. Altoona Lake 
  8. Black Earth Creek
  9. Delavan Lake
  10. Eau Claire Chain of Lakes
  11. Jute Lake
  12. Lake Monona
  13. Lake Pepin
  14. Lake Superior

Lake Chippewa

Lake Chippewa is a reservoir near Hayward in northwestern Wisconsin, stretching 14,593 acres.

Lake Chippewa

The East Fork Chippewa River and West Fork Chippewa River flow into Lake Chippewa and leave as the single Chippewa River through the Winter Dam at the lake’s southern end.

Dozens of lodges, campsites, and restaurants make it the ideal spot for a fishing vacation.

With a maximum depth of 92 feet, Lake Chippewa is home to walleye, musky, panfish, largemouth and smallmouth bass, northern pike, sturgeon, and catfish.

Visitors can access the lake through any of the six public boat landings, and plenty of boat rental options are available for guests.

Try competing in one of the fishing contests, or take a winter trip for ice fishing. Before visiting, read up on local regulations, as there are limits to how much visitors can take from the lake.

Big Saint Germain Lake

Sandwiched just south of Lake Superior between the Ottawa National Forest and the Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest is Big Saint Germain Lake.

Big Saint Germain Lake

With resorts and campsites surrounding the lake, there’s no shortage of lodging, and the nearby restaurants, golf courses, and hiking trails offer plenty of activity if you ever need a break from the water.

Big Saint Germain Lake is 1,622 acres and reaches 42 feet deep. Whether you access the lake through one of the resorts or the public boat landing at the lake’s northern shore, you’ll find musky, panfish, northern pike, walleye, largemouth bass, and all the other tasty fish we love.

Some species have regulations, so check the seasons and limits before you go.

Fox Lake

Fox Lake is just remote enough for those in Madison or Milwaukee to be a relaxing getaway but not so far that you’ll have to drive more than a couple of hours.

Fox Lake

Fox Lake forms the upper part of a triangle with Madison and Milwaukee, sitting almost straight east of the Wisconsin Dells.

After a relaxing day of fishing, you’ll have your pick of multiple restaurants along the shoreline. Planning more than a day trip? Try one of the local resorts or campgrounds.

Though Fox Lake is a natural lake, the dam in the outlet of the lake helped create its current size of 2,713 acres and depth of 19 feet.

Two public boat landings on the west side of the lake offer access to the musky, panfish, largemouth bass, northern pike, and walleye found in the low-clarity water. Of course, check the local regulations for species-specific limits and seasons.

Lake Michigan

Lake Michigan borders Wisconsin on the east, separating Wisconsin from Michigan. Lake Michigan stretches the entire eastern border of Wisconsin, so it’s easy to see why it’s the state’s most visited lake.

Lake Michigan

Whether you’re a Milwaukee resident, a Green Bay resident, or somewhere in between, there’s no shortage of fishing spots along the 407 miles of Wisconsin coast.

In total, Lake Michigan spans 22,300 miles. It’s the second-largest Great Lake in volume and third in surface area.

The deepest point of Lake Michigan is 923 feet, so it’s probably not shocking that the lake water rarely exceeds 72°F.

The lake is stocked full of salmon and trout, and near the shores, you may also find bullheads, largemouth bass, northern pike, lake sturgeon, and yellow perch.

Lake Winnebago

Also in eastern Wisconsin, Lake Winnebago is about an hour west of Lake Michigan. Oshkosh sits on the westernmost point of the lake and has seven of the lake’s 20 private boat landings.

Lake Winnebago

Boat rentals are also available at High Cliff State Park on the northeastern corner of the 131,939-acre lake.

Lake Winnebago is known for its lake sturgeon, but fishing fans will also find panfish, walleye, catfish, largemouth and smallmouth bass, musky, and northern pike.

Environmentalists have been monitoring the 21-feet-deep lake for almost two decades, and visitors need to be careful not to add to the already large invasive species population.

Aside from usual fishing regulations, visitors should also be aware of water quality advisories due to a high amount of blue-green algae.

Lake Wisconsin

Named for the state, Lake Wisconsin is situated between the Dells and Madison. You’ll find an abundance of restaurants and lodging on the shores, while multiple national parks surround the lake.

Lake Wisconsin

Lake Wisconsin stretches 7197 acres and reaches a maximum depth of 24 feet. Visitors can use one of the 15 public boat launches to access the lake’s population of largemouth and smallmouth bass, pike, walleye, trout, panfish, and catfish. Check out the local regulations before visiting.

Altoona Lake

A short ten-minute drive from Eau Claire is where you’ll find Altoona Lake. While only 720 acres, the artificial lake reaches a depth of 25 feet.

Altoona Lake

Visitors can utilize the two public boat landings before a picnic at one of the shoreside parks for lunch.

Smallmouth bass and walleye are the most common fish caught in Altoona Lake, but you’ll also find musky and panfish.

Though the water is murky, the lake is still a popular destination for swimming and boating, in addition to fishing.

Whether driving from nearby or staying in Eau Claire for a few days, review the fishing regulations before you go.

Black Earth Creek

Unlike other entries on this list, Black Earth Creek is not a lake. Located just northwest of Madison, the fishery area is a premier fishing destination.

Black Earth Creek

A mix of small streams and wetlands, the fishery area is across Highway 14 from Festge County Park.

Black Earth Creek has a class 1 trout fishing classification from the DNR, meaning the trout population is strong enough that the creek doesn’t have to be restocked.

The area is ideal for fly fishing, and you’re most likely to catch brown trout, rainbow trout, and largemouth bass.

Delavan Lake

Farthest south of the lakes on this list, Delavan Lake is due west of Kenosha. Stretching 1906 acres and 52 feet, Delavan Lake offers an abundance of options for a weekend getaway.

Delavan Lake

You’ll find resorts, restaurants, and tourist attractions like the Frank Lloyd Wright-designed A.P. Johnson House along the shores.

Delavan Lake provides a public beach and four boat landings to access the water. Fish found here include panfish, musky, largemouth and smallmouth bass, northern pike, and walleye. Check the regulations here.

Eau Claire Chain of Lakes

Despite the name, the Eau Claire chain of lakes isn’t near Eau Claire. Instead, the 11-lake chain is just up Highway 23 from Hayward.

Eau Claire Chain of Lakes

It comprises three large lakes, Lower Eau Claire, Middle Eau Claire, and Upper Eau Claire, plus eight smaller ones. The chain of lakes is dotted with campgrounds, resorts, and restaurants.

Upper Eau Claire Lake is the largest, at 1024 acres and a maximum depth of 92 feet. Middle Eau Claire Lake comes in at 880 acres and a maximum depth of 66 ft.

The smallest of the major lakes is Lower Eau Claire Lake, at 784 acres and a maximum depth of 41 feet.

Fish in these lakes include northern pike, panfish, musky, largemouth and smallmouth bass, and walleye.

Jute Lake

Located in northern Wisconsin along the Michigan border, Jute Lake is perfect for remote fishing trips.

Jute Lake

Surrounded by multiple state forests and wildlife preserves, visitors can relax in nature’s peace and beauty.

Jute Lake only stretches 191 acres and reaches up to 23 feet deep. Access is available through a public boat landing on the west shore.

Despite its size, the lake is home to panfish, musky, and large and smallmouth bass. 

Lake Monona

For those who work in the city and don’t have time to take a weekend off to fish, Lake Monona is the perfect place to spend a few hours.

Lake Monona

Nestled in southeast Madison, the lake is surrounded by the university, children’s museum, and botanical gardens. The lake offers seven different public beaches and five public boat landings.

At 3359 acres and up to 74 feet deep, Lake Monona is constantly a hub of activity. It’s even busy in winter, as ice-fishing huts pop up across the ice and snow.

Whether fishing from your boat or through the ice, you can catch panfish, pike, walleye, musky, sturgeon, catfish, and largemouth and smallmouth bass here.

A few species are off-limits, so check out the regulations before dropping your line.

Lake Pepin

Carved into a valley during the last Ice Age, Lake Pepin straddles Minnesota and Wisconsin.

Lake Pepin

This 24,550 lake is on the Mississippi River northwest of Madison but south of Minnesota’s twin cities.

The area is rich with hiking trails, beaches, and nature preserves. Along the stunning river, you’ll find plenty of options for lodging and dining so that you can stay all day or all weekend.

Lake Pepin is a popular fishing destination, and guests are free to use any of the seven public boat landings.

Fish commonly found here include panfish, largemouth bass, and pike. As of now, there are no regulations in place for any of those fish.

Lake Superior

At 31,700 square miles, Lake Superior is not only the largest lake by area in the United States but in the entire world.

Lake Superior

From the innermost point of Duluth, Minnesota, to where it meets Lake Huron in Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario, the lake touches Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan, and Ontario.

No matter what state or province you’re in, you’ll find plenty of options for lodging or dining if you’re planning on making your fishing trip into a multi-day vacation.

With its massive size, Lake Superior holds a variety of fish species. Fishing here can yield largemouth and smallmouth bass, catfish, walleye, perch, sunfish, salmon, muskie, pike, and a lot of trout.

In fact, Lake Superior is another one of the few states where the trout population is self-sustaining.

Final Thoughts

With so many options, there’s a perfect lake for you somewhere in Wisconsin. Whether you crave something peaceful and remote or something busy and bustling, the wide variety means there’s always something new to explore.

As long as you do due diligence before leaving to check water quality and boating and fishing regulations, you’ll be able to plan a perfect, relaxing fishing trip.

If you’re heading down south to Tennessee, here are a few lakes you may want to try fishing while you’re there!

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