Best Places to Fish in Wisconsin: Delavan Lake


Located in southern Wisconsin, close to many metropolitan areas, Delavan Lake receives heavy recreational activity. During weekends and holidays around the peak season it’s not uncommon to see backups at the boat launch, which can also make fishing difficult.

Your best bet for more favorable fishing opportunities during the summer are in early morning, evening or during the week.

Delavan Lake underwent a chemical treatment in 1989 to control both the excessive rough fish population and the high levels of phosphorous. During this treatment, the lake was closed to all fishing, and opened again on May 2, 1992. Since then, the extensive stocking efforts by the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources have yielded excellent game fish populations.

The WDNR has implemented reduced bag limits and increased size limits for several gamefish. This is to provide anglers with a trophy fishery as well as to keep gamefish and panfish populations in balance. Delavan Lake is also one of the few lakes in Wisconsin that allows motor trolling.

The WDNR stocks both walleye and muskie. Walleye are stocked every other year at a rate of 100,000 fry, while 2,500 muskie fingerling are stocked annually.

Interactive Lake Map

Here are some tips for locating and catching fish on Delavan Lake:

  • For northern pike during spring and early summer, drift with medium-sized suckers, in 12-16 feet of water. Look for weed edges and try to drift along them. Chrome-colored Rat-L-Traps and chartreuse/orange-colored spinnerbaits with a gold or silver-colored Colorado blade are also effective. The key to using these is to cast them out and let them sink to the bottom. Experiment with fast and slow retrieves, as well as erratic, rise and fall presentations.
  • The many docks surrounding the lake offer excellent cover for both largemouth and smallmouth bass. Many of the docks have a rock crib under them for support. This type of dock seems to attract smallmouth. During spring, cast spinnerbaits around these docks to locate active bass.
  • Trolling on Delavan Lake is legal, so some anglers work the weed edges by trolling crankbaits, such as a Rapala Shad Rap. Firetiger or perch patterns are very popular colors. Walleye tend to remain shallow throughout the year, so don’t be afraid to work the 10- to 15-foot edges even during the summer months.
  • Bluegill are the favorite panfish species on Delavan Lake and provide good action throughout the year. From ice-out through the middle of May, anglers should concentrate on areas of weed growth in shallow bays, channels and the Jackson Creek inlet. Small ice jigs suspended below a slip bobber can take good numbers of fish from the developing weed growth. Tip the jigs with waxworms or nightcrawler pieces.
  • Just to the northeast of “The Island” in 15-20 feet of water, there is a big sunken rock point. Walleye, perch and smallmouth relate to the rocky bottom here and can be caught with jig and minnow or crawler combos. Plastic tubes in natural colors, such as green pumpkin or motor oil, are also effective for smallmouth bass. This spot will also hold a muskie or two. Try working a black/orange Bull Dawg, or running a deep-diving crankbait, such as a perch-colored Grandma. is the premier map-based, social network for anglers. The online community gives anglers the ability to record and track their on-the-water experiences and view detailed fishing maps on over 8,000 bodies of water.
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