While the winter months usually mean the holidays and nights by the fire for most people, for anglers it means breaking out the ice fishing gear. The state of Wisconsin is one of the best places to enjoy this popular past time, and there is no shortage of frozen lakes and rivers to go to.
Ice fishing is easily one of the most popular activities in Wisconsin during the frozen winter months and keeps gaining popularity every year. Almost 25% of all of the fish caught during the year are pulled out through the ice, and some of the biggest fish are continually caught this time of year.
Thankfully there are thousands of lakes in Wisconsin to go and ice fish on, but it can sometimes be challenging to decide where to go fishing. We have compiled a list of some of the best places to go, so here is our list for the top locations for the best ice fishing in Wisconsin.
Top Locations for Ice Fishing in Wisconsin
1. Dairyland Reservoir
This reservoir is over 1800 acres big and is found on the Flambeau River. Located in northwestern Wisconsin, this is the perfect place to fish if you are looking for one of the best ice fishing in the entire state.
Anglers flock to Dairyland Reservoir year-round, but during the winter months, the fishermen here are usually targeting panfish and walleye. The lake is also home to plenty of bass, pike, catfish, and sturgeon as well.
Dairyland Reservoir gives anglers plenty of options and is easily one of the state’s hot spot fishing locations. If you are looking for good numbers of fish as well as large trophy potential, this is definitely one place to consider.
2. Black Oak Lake
Found in Vilas County, Black Oak Lake is a small body of water at only 564 acres. While small, this means it freezes over much faster than other lakes and is usually ready for ice fishing as soon as mid-December.
Anglers on the ice at Black Oak Lake can find healthy populations of panfish, lake trout, smallmouth bass, largemouth bass, walleye, and northern pike. All of these species of fish make for some great opportunities out on the ice for some excellent fishing.
Black Oak Lake is one of the deepest lakes in Wisconsin and offers some great potential for trophy fish. It freezes over in mid to late December and stays frozen over until May, giving anglers plenty of time to enjoy it.
3. Boom Lake
Boom Lake is easily the number one destination in the state for trophy walleye. This lake is 365 acres big and is home to the biggest grown walleye in Wisconsin, drawing anglers in from all over the state.
This lake is located in the Rhinelander, which is generally considered the Ice Fishing Capital of the World. The maximum depth of the lake is a little over 30 feet, giving it plenty of deep ice when it freezes over in the winter months.
Boom Lake is a very popular ice fishing destination and is surrounded by plenty of lodges and amenities to make your trip even more enjoyable. This is one lake you will not want to miss if you are ever in the area!
4. Lake Onalaska
For anglers that want to pursue large, trophy-sized panfish, there is no better place in the state than Lake Onalaska. This lake continually produces record-setting crappie and bluegill, and many of them come through the ice during the winter.
At over 8,000 acres, Lake Onalaska gives you plenty of space to stretch your legs and have enough ice to yourself. The multiple lodges around the lake also offer places to stay, as well as equipment rentals.
The only precaution to take when traveling to Lake Onalaska is the road conditions, as later in the year they can be very poor and full of mud and slush. Planning ahead of time to combat this will ensure a successful day on the ice!
5. Lake Winnebago
At 132,000 acres, Lake Winnebago is the largest body of water in the entire state of Wisconsin. Because of this, there is plenty of water and ice to hide some giant fish. This lake is home to multiple species, including pike, bass, crappie, perch, sturgeon, and the popular walleye.
Although large in size, Lake Winnebago is a very shallow lake. The maximum depth does not exceed 21 feet, meaning the ice is very safe to fish on at earlier times of the year when compared to other lakes, especially of this size.
Found in eastern Wisconsin, Lake Winnebago is a great place to take the whole family and there are plenty of places around the lake to stay or buy gear. This fishing spot is quickly becoming one of the most popular ice fishing destinations in Wisconsin and for good reason!
How Much is a Fishing License in Wisconsin
Wisconsin offers plenty of different options for anglers on any budget and is especially kind to youth anglers. A few noteworthy license fees are:
- Annual fishing licenses are available for both residents and nonresidents and cost $20 and $50 respectively.
- One day fishing license can be bought for $10 for non-residents and $8 for residents.
- Nonresidents can purchase a four-day license for $24 or a fifteen-day license for $28.
- Kids under the age of 15 fish for free!
For more information on Wisconsin fishing license fees and structures, you can visit the Wisconsin DNR website at https://dnr.wi.gov/topic/fishing/outreach/FishingLicenses.html.
Where to Buy a Fishing License in Wisconsin
There are plenty of places to buy a fishing license in the state of Wisconsin, including the Wisconsin DNR website. In addition to online and DNR offices, many local bait shops, gas stations, and sporting goods stores also offer the ability to buy licenses. For an interactive map of everywhere in the state fishing licenses are sold, visit https://dnr.wi.gov/permits/csrsp/licenseagents.aspx.
Wisconsin may be overlooked for many reasons, but you should never overlook it as one of the greatest places in the country to go ice fishing. With plenty of frozen lakes and rivers to explore, there are multiple opportunities to get out and enjoy the great outdoors and catch some trophy fish on the ice!