Ice Fishing Lakes In Wisconsin
Guide to favorite fish species at top ice fishing lakes in the state.
The best ice fishing lakes in WI include Geneva Lake, Lake Puckaway and Big Green Lake. The most popular species through the ice, across the state, include walleye, bass and perch. The purpose of this page is to share basic information about the best ice fishing lakes in the state, plus the species found in each lake. See a list of lakes and species below.
Ice fishing is as basic as fishing gets. During winter, it is popular here in the state. Aside from the tools one uses to create a hole in the ice, all other gear is very basic. A simple rod, reel, line and hook or lure is all you need. Lures, live bait and prepared bait are options, depending on the fish species in the lake or pond.
Wisconsin's winters offer a unique opportunity for anglers with its popular ice fishing season. Ice fishing enthusiasts brave the frozen lakes and enjoy the thrill of catching fish through the ice.
Ice Fishing Tips & Techniques Video
One of the most sought-after species during ice fishing in Wisconsin is the walleye. These elusive fish are known for their delicious flavor and are highly prized by anglers. Other popular species include northern pike, perch, crappie, bluegill, and trout. Ice anglers use various techniques and equipment to target these species, including tip-ups, jigging rods, and ice augers to create holes in the ice.
Safety is of utmost importance when engaging in ice fishing. It is crucial to check the ice conditions before venturing out and ensure the ice is thick enough to support your weight. Ice thickness of at least 4 inches is generally considered safe for foot traffic, while 5-7 inches is recommended for snowmobiles and ATVs. It's also essential to wear appropriate clothing, including ice cleats for traction and a life jacket for added safety.
Having the right equipment is vital for a successful and safe ice fishing experience. This includes an ice auger to drill holes, an ice scoop or skimmer to remove ice shavings, a sled or ice shelter to store equipment and provide shelter from the elements, and ice fishing rods and tackle suited for the target species.
Ice fishing in Wisconsin is not only a popular sport but also a social activity. Many ice anglers set up ice shanties or fish in groups, creating a sense of community on the frozen lakes. It's common to see families and friends enjoying the camaraderie while waiting for their lines to twitch with the promise of a catch.
Always remember to adhere to fishing regulations, including bag limits and size restrictions, and practice ethical angling practices. This ensures the sustainability of the fish populations and allows future generations to enjoy the thrill of ice fishing in Wisconsin's frozen wonderland.
Top Ice Fishing Lakes & Species
There are numerous places to go ice fishing in the state. Here are a list of some of the proven, best destinations.
Big Green Lake
Click the images for species details.
This is a great way to get the kids to go outdoors in winter, connect with nature and learn to fish. The first consideration when attempting to go ice fishing, is safety. Make sure the ice is safe, and that you are prepared should an accident occur. Dress to stay warm - it's better to remove extra jackets than be cold and miserable. Be aware that the ice can be slippery, and falls can be dangerous.
Click here for ice fishing basics, including details on finding the best place to fish, tips for cutting a hole, basic tackle, bait, lures, depths to fish, safety, shanty's, tents and huts.
Best ice fishing method for crappie, bluegill, perch and sunfish
Horizontal jigs and spoon-type baits are the go-to baits for crappie, either tipped with a minnow, wax worm or prepared baits often triggers more bites. Jigs work better close to the bottom, spoons tend to work better higher in the water column. If options allow, 15 to 30 feet is the most common depth. Adjust as necessary. See additional info on ice fishing for crappie, perch and sunfish.
Best ice fishing method for walleye
Four basic lures are all you need. Ice jigs are minnow shaped with a tail that causes them to fall in a circular patter. Drop them to the desired depth (often to the bottom), then lift the bait a few feet to let it fall on slack line. Spoons: Metal slabs in chrome or a wide array of colors are used to jig up-and-down mimicking a dying baitfish. Lipless crankbaits: Fish like a spoon. Jigs: Use slightly larger jigs than for crappie, preferably with a flashing blade attached. Tip with live bait and let it sit, up a ways from the bottom typically 1 to 3 feet. A general tip is to always keep your bait off the bottom, one to 5 feet is an ideal place to start. Additional information about ice fishing for walleye.
Best ice fishing method for trout
Trout focus on small forage fish in winter, so baits that flash silver - jigs or spoons, do well in attracting trout. Dual rods, where legal, are very effective. One rod with a jig/live bait set up on a tip-up, the second with a spoon fished up and down pretty aggressively. See more detail about ice fishing for trout.
Best ice fishing method for bass
Bass are often found closer to the shoreline than schooling fish. Fish the same as other species, using a bit larger baits and slightly heavier line. Be prepared to battle using your drag if you hook a big one. Additional information about ice fishing for largemouth and smallmouth bass.
Best ice fishing method for pike and musky
Live bait, shiners and sunfish, are a great way to attract these big fellahs, assuming local law allows their use. Heavier line, steel leaders, bigger hooks and stronger tip-ups are in order. See more information on ice fishing for pike and musky.
Click here for a Wisconsin Fishing License.
States with notable ice fishing.