Best Places to Fish in Wisconsin: Wisconsin River (Below Prairie du Sac Dam)

The Prairie du Sac Dam is the largest hydroelectric facility on the Wisconsin River and divides the river into the "Lower" and "Upper" portions. The "Lower" Wisconsin River is free-flowing from the Prairie du Sac Dam to its confluence with the Mississippi River at Prairie du Chien. The gentle current and unspoiled shoreline makes the Wisconsin River below Sauk City popular with both canoeists and small boat anglers. Because the Wisconsin River below Prairie du Sac Dam remains free of ice throughout winter, this has also become an important bald eagle wintering area.

It’s no secret that this portion of the river can be one of the hottest spots for early season walleye, yet anglers will find quality smallmouth bass, white bass and catfish fishing opportunities here as well. There is a significant movement of walleye and sauger up the Wisconsin River to the Prairie du Sac Dam from late fall through spring. Limited numbers come from the Mississippi River, but the majority are residents of the Lower Wisconsin River. A white bass spawning migration also occurs during early April and May.

Interactive Lake Map

For a more detailed lake map and up to the minute fishing reports follow the Wisconsin River (Below Prairie Du Sac Dam) waterway page on Fishidy.

Here are some tips for locating and catching walleye on this stretch of the river:

● From late November through April, early season walleye and sauger action is concentrated below the Prairie du Sac Dam. If fishing pressure is heavy below the dam, move further downstream and look for current breaks and slackwater areas. Shoreline wood that is adjacent to deep water can be especially productive.

● Just downstream from the dam and the brush island is a 22-foot deep hole that holds pre-spawn walleye. Small jigs tipped with minnows should be worked around the edges of the hole.

● The fast current and cold water temperatures demand slow and accurate presentations. Vertical jigging the edges of the current breaks and pitching tight to submerged cover are effective in the early part of the season. A 1/8- to ¼-ounce jig with a 2- to 4-inch fathead minnow is the standard river offering at this time.

● During early spring and summer, walleye anglers are successful working the shoreline areas after dark. Shallow-diving crankbaits and jig and twister tail combos produce the best catches.

● By late spring, walleye and sauger action below the dam begins to slow. Downstream areas that contain sand flats, drop-offs, submerged wood or shoreline rock is preferred. Generally, sauger are found deeper than walleye. Jig and twister tail combos and deep-diving crankbaits are favored selections during this period.

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