Fishing Regulations in Wisconsin

Wisconsin is one of the few places on the planet and in the United States where anglers can target a remarkable variety of fish species at the same time. From Muskellunge to Sunfish, sturgeon, bullheads, and crappie to smallmouth and largemouth bass, Wisconsin has it all. If you can think of it, it can probably be caught here.

The law, on the other hand, is something that you must keep an eye on so that you are aware of its limitations. As is the case in any other state, you will find that some species can only be caught during specific periods of time in this one. The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources website provides information on the various fishing seasons, including dates for each species and year. Additionally, a searchable guide to Wisconsin hook and line fishing regulations has been made available on the website to make it even easier for anglers to determine whether or not they are in danger of being fined or breaking the law in any way.


When a species is closed for hunting or fishing in Wisconsin or several other states in the United States, it is illegal to pursue that species. While some anglers may argue that this shouldn’t apply to catch and release fishing, the truth is that it does, and you should avoid certain fishing areas if you know that there is a species in the area that you might unintentionally catch. If the regulations do not specifically state whether a particular species has an open season or not, it is illegal to fish for that species unless the species is specifically stated to have an open season.

Some of the more common types of fish that you might want to catch while you are in Wisconsin are listed below, along with the seasons in which they are available for catching them:

  • From May to October, you can catch inland trout in general.
  • Inland general fishing season runs from May to March of the following year.
  • Largemouth bass are found in the northern zone from May to March of the following year.
  • From June of one year to March of the following year, smallmouth bass are found in the northern zone.
    Musky season is from May to November.
  • Northern pike is active from May to March of the following year.
  • Walleye spawning season is from May to March of the following year.
  • Every year, during the month of September, lake sturgeon can be found in abundance.

If you are not a resident of the state of Wisconsin, the cost of a license is determined primarily by your residency status in the state. For example, a nonresident’s annual fishing license can cost as much as fifty dollars or more depending on the state. During the time this article was written, a nonresident angler would have been required to pay twenty-eight dollars for a fishing license that would have been valid for fifteen consecutive days. Residents, on the other hand, would have had to pay only twenty dollars for a fishing license that was valid for an entire year if they lived in the area.

There are also rules that apply to children that must be followed. For example, all children under the age of 16 are exempt from the requirement to purchase a fishing license. Although they do not have bag limits, they must follow the same rules as adults, which means that their fishing bags must not exceed the length and seasonal limits set by the federal government.

In addition, if you were to go fishing with your child and he or she were to require your assistance in reeling in the fish, you would be required to have a valid fishing license as the adult accompanying him or her. In general, it is not necessary for an adult to accompany a child when they are out and about. When a youth decides to take a break from fishing, it is your responsibility to ensure that the equipment is properly stored and that none of the equipment ends up in the water.

Last but not least, the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources website can assist you in obtaining a wealth of information about the species that can be caught and consumed in the state of Wisconsin. Women past the age of childbearing can eat as much crappie, sunfish, yellow perch, bullhead, bluegill, and inland trout as they want, and men can eat as much as they want of any of these species. Females in their reproductive years, nursing mothers, and children under the age of fifteen, on the other hand, are only permitted to consume the same species once per week.