When Does Fishing Season Start in Wisconsin

The fishing season in Wisconsin starts on the first Saturday in May and goes until the last day of February.

In Wisconsin, the fishing season typically starts in late April or early May. The exact date depends on the water body and the species of fish you plan to target. For example, muskie season opens on the third Saturday in May, while walleye season opens on the last Saturday in April.

Before heading out for a day of fishing, check the regulations for the water body and species you’re targeting. You’ll need a valid fishing license, and there may be special limits on how many fish you can keep. Once you have everything in order, it’s time to enjoy some of Wisconsin’s great fishing!

Ice Out on Inland Waters

The ice officially melts off most inland rivers and lakes statewide sometime in March or early April, depending on how long and harsh Old Man Winter wants to hang around. Soon as the big thaw arrives, you’ll see diehards lining shorelines chomping to wet a line. Most waters are fair game once the ice is gone, though early spring can be tricky with low and stained flows. Channel catfish make for fun, lightweight action before flows and temps rise. Just be ready to get your line muddy!

Walleye Open on Lakes – Early May

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Miss May rains, yet love dropping minnows off the rocks? The walleye season gets underway on lakes and flowages across Wisconsin on the first Saturday of May. These prolific predators are coming off their spring spawning runs hungry to feed, so you can count on some hot bite periods in shallows during the first few weeks. Cast and wind crankbaits as the sun warms shallows to find rocks stacked with feeding fish. Look to work worms close to shore as the season progresses.

Northern Pike Season Begins – Early May

Northern Pike
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Pike are often an overlooked target for early-season anglers when they should be top of mind. This toothy predator’s season opens statewide concurrently with walleye on inland waters on the first Saturday of May. Find old weed beds and stump fields near inlets and tributaries to find cruising northern eager to bully panfish and smallmouths. Fat 7-8” suckers and chubs get savage bites from these heavy hitters needing calories after winter.

Smallmouth in Rivers – Mid-May

Nothing beats watching those bent rods while hooking powerful smallies lurking structures on flowing currents. Smallmouth season opens two weeks after walleye/pike season on inland rivers and tributaries statewide around mid-May. Fish shallow riffles with crankbaits and topwaters at dawn and dusk when water temps near 60° to trigger that famous summertime sizzle. Worms and grubs get you intimate with subtle strikes buried under rocks as flows stabilize.

Trout Opener in Select Streams – Last Saturday in April

If trout is your true passion, mark your calendar for the last Saturday in April for the highly anticipated trout opener on select class trout streams. Classic dialects with new friends around a warm fire is the perfect way to unwind after stalking selective native brook and brown trout. Bait anglers rely on nightcrawlers and nymphs under bobbers; fly casters mimic emerging insects with attractor patterns as vibrant hatches kick-off. Make campground reservations early!

Lake Michigan Shoreline – Early May

Fish Milwaukee to Manitowoc if heading to the big lake. Coho salmon enter rivers and harass gobies in the surf, tempting shore chuckers and boat trollers in early May as daytime temps approach 60°. Cast spoons and spin-glo spinners from piers at river mouths for immediate action. Catch-photo-release smallmouth will cruise breakwalls all spring, warming up for summer dominance over the reefs.

2024-2025 Fishing Season Dates in Wisconsin

2024-2025 Fishing Season Dates
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With warmer weather on the horizon, outdoor enthusiasts are eager to get out on the water in search of trophies. To help anglers in Wisconsin plan their fishing adventures, here are the key season dates outlined in Fact #1 for the 2024-2025 cycle.

The early inland trout fishing period runs January 6th through May 3rd, requiring catch and release of any trout caught. From May 4th at 5:00 am through October 15th is the general inland trout season where fish can be harvested.

The general inland fishing season spans May 4th through March 2nd, 2025. Within these dates, the northern largemouth bass zone and smallmouth bass zone in the north are open for harvest, as is the southern zone for both species. Catch and release is mandatory outside the open harvest seasons.

The musky northern zone operates May 25th through December 31st for retention of fish. The southern musky zone is open from May 4th through December 31st. Northern pike and walleye dates also align entirely with the general inland season.

Lake sturgeon anglers have limited opportunities, with spearing allowed February 10th through 25th on select waters. Hook and line season runs from September 7th to 30th.

Across seven months of regulated fishing, Wisconsin offers diverse year-round angling from chilled trout streams to the shores of Lake Michigan as waters warm. Referring to these well-defined season dates will allow avid anglers to maximize time on the water, targeting their favourite fish.

Can I Fish in March in Wisconsin?

The best time of year to fish in Wisconsin is from late May to early September, when the water temperature is warm and the fish are active. However, you can still find success if you head out in March. The key is to target specific species of fish that are more likely to be biting this time of year.

Some good options include panfish like bluegills and crappies, as well as pike and walleye. The key is to find areas where these fish are congregating and use bait that they’re attracted to. For example, panfish congregate near weeds or other structures in shallow water.

So, targeting them with a jig or live bait near these areas can be effective. Pike and walleye, on the other hand, tend to prefer deep water during the cooler months. As such, targeting them with lures that mimic their preferred food sources (e.g., minnows) can be a good strategy.

Again, finding areas where these fish are known to congregate (e.g., drop-offs or reefs) can increase your chances of success. Of course, one of the best things about fishing is that there’s always something new to learn – so even if you don’t catch anything in March, it’ll still be a fun experience!

Can You Fish All Year in Wisconsin?

Yes, you can fish all year in Wisconsin! The state offers a variety of fishing opportunities, from lakes and rivers to streams and ponds. Wisconsin waters also have many different types of fish, including bass, trout, walleye, and muskie.

When Can You Start Fishing for Bass in Wisconsin?

Wisconsin bass fishing usually opens the third Saturday in May, but this year it will be the fourth Saturday, May 23. The season generally runs through mid-September.

Wisconsin Fishing Season Opener 2024


In Wisconsin, the fishing season typically starts in late April or early May. Wisconsin has a long tradition of fishing, and the state is home to some of the best freshwater fishing in the country. The fishing season is an eagerly anticipated event for many Wisconsinites, as it signals the start of a summer filled with outdoor recreation and relaxation.

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