Spring weather has seen busier local lakes and rivers as fisherman set their sites on catching “the big one.” Opening day for Wisconsin fishing is traditionally the first Saturday in May. Hook and line fishing for many fish species on state waters begins on that day. However, to better manage Wisconsin fisheries, season dates are often specific to the species of fish as well as the water body.

The beginning of April, the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (WDNR) put new fishing regulations into effect. Some regulations are statewide, while others are regional and local. The WDNR said the new regulations, “Provide good fishing opportunities for the public and help fulfill management goals.”

The WDNR has over 250 inland bodies of water listed in Polk County. The biggest include Balsam Lake, Bone Lake, Big Round Lake and Lake Wapogasset. Some of the tiniest listed were Depot Lake, Mallard Lake, Marsh Lake and Legoo Lake. 

Amery resident, Chris Franzen, said fishing is a hobby/sport that can be enjoyed by anyone. “We are super fortunate to live in a unique area with so many bodies of water available to cast a line,” said Franzen.

You can find the hook and line fishing regulations for your favorite lake on the WDNR’s online searchable guide found at https://dnr.wi.gov/topic/fishing/regulations/

Statewide and Regional Fishing

Regulation Changes:

• A continuous catch-and-release season for bass at all times of the year outside the harvest season will apply statewide, except where refuges or closed areas are in effect. This season will apply to inland, outlying and most boundary waters, and no bass may be harvested during the catch-and-release bass season. Waters with a current continuous bass harvest season will not see any changes.

• The daily bag limit for cisco and whitefish will change from 25 pounds and one fish to 10 fish in total. This change will improve consistency in harvest limits among anglers and reduce pressure on inland cisco and whitefish populations.

• The closing date of the muskellunge fishing season will be Dec. 31 on open water in the Northern Zone north of US Highway 10, including Wisconsin-Michigan boundary waters and outlying waters of Lake Michigan and Green Bay north of Waldo Boulevard in Manitowoc. Open water is considered to include any conditions that do not allow ice to be used as a platform for fishing.

• On the Wisconsin-Michigan boundary waters, the musky season will open on June 1 and the minimum length limit for musky will be 50 inches.

• For lake sturgeon fishing on Lake Superior, the minimum length limit will be 60 inches and only one sturgeon may be harvested per year.

• On the Lake Winnebago System, the daily bag limit for walleye and sauger will decrease to three in total, with only one being a sauger. No size limit will apply. The Winnebago System includes Lakes Buttes des Morts, Winneconne, Poygan, Winnebago and all their tributaries from their mouths upstream to the first dam. This includes the Fox River from Lake Winnebago upstream to the dam above Princeton and all its tributaries from their mouths upstream to the first dam and 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 including Cincoe lake, Partridge Crop lake and Partridge lake in Calumet, Fond du Lac, Green Lake, Marquette, Outagamie, Shawano, Waupaca, Waushara and Winnebago counties.

• In water bodies of Shawano and Waupaca counties, excluding the Winnebago system and in Lake Koshkonong, the Rock River from the Indianford dam upstream to the lower Watertown dam, the Bark River from the mouth upstream to the former Hebron Dam at Highway 106, the Crawfish River from the mouth upstream to and including the Highway 19 bridge, Busseyville (Koshkonong) Creek from the mouth upstream to County Highway B, and the tributaries of these rivers up to the first dam in Dane, Jefferson and Rock counties, the daily bag limit will also be three walleye, but with a minimum length limit of 18 inches.

• For the Turtle-Flambeau Flowage and connected water bodies, including Trude Lake, the Bear River, the Flambeau River upstream of the Turtle-Flambeau Flowage at Murray's Landing, the Little Turtle River, and the Manitowish River upstream of the Flambeau River to the Rest Lake Dam, including Benson, Sturgeon and Vance lakes, the regulation for walleye will be a minimum length limit of 12 inches with only one fish over 15 inches allowed for harvest, and a daily bag limit of three.

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