Whether you’re on your way to the Windy City or on your way home, be sure to stop off at some of these top-notch fishing destinations in southern Wisconsin. The boat traffic on weekends and holidays during peak tourist season tends to overshadow the fishing opportunities, but if you can find a way to be on the water at the right time and the right place, you may be lucky enough to experience some of the best fishing around.
Here are a few of our favorite Wisconsin fishing destinations near the Chicago area with tips to help you reel-in your next trophy fish!
At over 5,000 acres, and considered by many to be the best smallmouth lake in southeast Wisconsin, Lake Geneva offers excellent structure, abundant forage and depth which combine to create a productive fishery. Largemouth bass, northern pike, crappie and bluegill are well represented here. Stocking efforts of brown and lake trout have also established exciting angling opportunities.
● During summer, smallmouth bass will hold in scattered weeds found close to the thermocline. Linn Pier Flats, Buttons Bay and the west side of Geneva Bay are good summer areas to target.
● Silver blades with white or chartreuse skirts are the preferred combination by Lake Geneva pike anglers. Shallow flats near Fontana Beach, Abbey Spring Golf Course and Geneva Bay will hold spring northern pike. Minnows worked below a float, casting crankbaits or trolling crankbaits will produce fish. Perch or dark-colored Jr. Thundersticks and Jointed Long-A’s are local favorites.
Silver Lake is known for above average crappie and bluegill. Work the shallow weeds anytime for largemouth and in the spring for muskie. Long casts, light line and smaller than average lures are suggested in this shallow body of water.
● Drift the shallow weedbeds in early spring for muskie. Small bucktails and twitch baits are often productive.
● Largemouth bass can be taken from both the shallow and deep weedline. Because of the muskie and northern pike, bass tend to hold very tight to the weed edge.
● Above average bluegill and crappie suspend over deep water adjacent to the deep weed edges from late spring through fall. A depthfinder is needed to locate these schools of suspended fish and determine the correct depth to fish. Most of the action occurs around the 12-to 18-foot depths.
Located in southern Wisconsin, Delavan Lake has been reborn with an increasing bass population, slab crappie, northern pike and walleye. It receives heavy recreational activity and as such, weekends and holidays during the peak season can cause backups at the boat launch, and can also make fishing difficult. The best fishing opportunities occur during early morning, evening or during the week.
● Many of the docks surrounding the lake 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.
● During spring, work shallow rock bars and weeds with a jig tipped with a minnow for walleye. As summer temperatures warm the water, move to deeper structure to find active fish. Deeper weed edges, worked with a jig and nightcrawler or leech, can be very productive.