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When it comes to Wisconsin ice fishing lakes, anglers are truly spoiled for choice.
The state has more than 15,000 lakes, and many of them offer great ice fishing opportunities.
In this article, Wisconsin-based ice fishing guru Shawn Chapin explains which lakes to target in the Badger State.
In this article, I’ve rounded up the five Wisconsin ice fishing lakes I most enjoy. However, part of the beauty of ice fishing in Wisconsin is getting out and exploring new lakes and compiling your own list of favorites.
Cheers to some great fishing!
Green Bay, an arm of Lake Michigan that borders the east coast of Wisconsin, is famous for its walleye fishing in winter, but anglers can also expect to catch perch and whitefish and northern pike.
Perch populations in the lake are beginning to recover from overfishing, which provides improved angling opportunities and helps re-establish the food chain.
The eastern and southern ends of Green Bay, including the mouth of the Fox River, are decent areas to try your hand at ice fishing with jigging (a popular method).
This massive lake is very shallow and offers great ice fishing for perch, walleye, northern pike, and various panfish species using either jigs or tip-ups.
Lake Winnebago is also one of the few places where anglers can practice sturgeon spearing during the two-week season where it is allowed. This strange form of fishing involves targeting the lake’s sturgeon by sight with long spears attached to ropes.
On Lake Michigan, anglers targeting the right areas can catch brown trout and steelhead when they are ice fishing.
The Milwaukee, Sheboygan and Algoma areas are among the best places to fish for these species, along with walleye. Most of the best fishing is right in close to shore in the harbors and piers. Fishing in the tributary rivers is also excellent when the ice is thick enough.
Big Green Lake
Big Green Lake is a deepwater fishery that offers anglers a chance to catch lake trout while ice fishing. Jigging is the preferred method for most anglers.
The shallower areas around the shore offer great fishing for walleye, panfish and northern pike, with some big specimens caught every year.
The Madison Chain of Lakes
These lakes are right in the center of Wisconsin’s capital, Madison. While they get a lot of fishing pressure, ice fishing anglers can expect to catch panfish such as bluegill and crappie, as well as walleye and perch.
Lake Mendota is known for big northern pike, but the larger fish are very wise and considerable skill is needed to catch them. Also popular are Lake Monona and Lake Waubesa.
Ice Fishing Wisconsin Conclusion
I hope this list gives you a starting point in terms of lakes to try for your next ice fishing adventure in Wisconsin. You can find a little more detail in this longer piece I wrote on ice fishing in Wisconsin.
Remember to stay safe when you are ice fishing by testing the ice thickness before venturing out, talking to other anglers about which areas are safe and unsafe and bringing the right equipment to protect yourself from the cold.
Initially you won’t need any fancy equipment, but if you get right into ice fishing, you’ll probably end up buying a fish finder, underwater camera and an auger to take your fishing to the next level. Here is my list of essential ice fishing gear.
Remember, it’s safer to fish with a friend. And don’t forget to tell friends or family where you are going and how long you expect to be gone.
Where to Stay When Ice Fishing in Wisconsin
If you’re considering an ice fishing trip in Wisconsin or elsewhere, we’ve made it super easy to find the best rates and compare accommodations at a glance. Get started by typing in the name of your lake next to the orange arrow in the top left corner of the map below.
This short promotional video from Discover Wisconsin explains the appeal of ice fishing in Wisconsin during the coldest months of the year.
Shawn Chapin is an experienced fishing writer and guide based in Wisconsin, where he loves targeting muskie and a range of other species. He’s a member of the writing team at TackleVillage.com.