Finding a fishing hot spot in Wisconsin is easier than you’d think. With more than 15,000 lakes, over 1,000 miles of Great Lakes shoreline and roughly 150 species of fish — bass, bluegills, bullheads, crappies, catfish, musky, perch, pike, walleye and more — angling on any of Wisconsin’s waters is very accessible.
Of course Lake Michigan and Lake Superior offer fantastic charter fishing opportunities. Lakes Monona and Mendota bring views of Madison’s spirited isthmus. Lake Geneva offers largemouth bass in a vibrant resort town, while Lake Winnebago narrates a nature-dweller’s dream in the Fox Valley. And the state’s many inland lakes are well-known as relaxing destinations to crack a beer, cast a rod and reel in fresh rewards from a boat.
But if you're looking for some fishing spots off the beaten path, there are plenty of smaller and secluded fish-filled waterways in Wisconsin. Here are 10 of the state's best under-the-radar locations for anglers that only the locals know about.
Chippewa and Flambeau Rivers
Accessible by canoe and kayak and also from bridges, the intersecting Chippewa and Flambeau rivers provide unbelievable smallmouth bass fishing near Winter, Loretta and Park Falls. You'll feel immersed in nature and come away with a great haul.
Altoona Lake, an excellent fishing spot for kids in Eau Claire County, has musky, panfish, walleye and smallmouth bass in addition to public boating and swimming options. Expect the area, nestled up against Eau Claire, to receive a lot of traffic during the internationally-acclaimed Eaux Claires music and arts festival each summer.
Kettle Moraine State Forest – Northern Unit – Campbellsport
This gorgeous state park is the perfect camping spot for someone rolling through eastern Wisconsin looking to hike, explore and fish. With more than a dozen fishing spots ranging from small ponds to the three-mile Long Lake, Kettle Moraine's Northern Unit offers fishers the opportunity to pick and choose based on fish species and lake size, along with proximity to campsites and the park's other natural features.
Touted for its world-class fishing by Brian Jensen, president and co-founder of social network Fishidy, the Kickapoo River and its tributaries are must-visit places for anglers. The "crookedest river in the world" is flanked by gorgeous cliffs and benefits from the baseflow of natural springs.
Just minutes from the quaint tourist oasis of Lake Geneva and its 5,400-acre Geneva Lake, Delevan Lake is a dynamic fishing location and solid musky-catching spot in Walworth County. Equipped with a public beach and surrounded by some top-tier resorts, Delavan Lake is perfect for southern Wisconsin travelers looking for active fishing and secluded relaxation.
The biggest lake on our list, Fox Lake, sits on the outskirts of the small town with the same name. The Ho-Chunk Nation Native Americans named the area "Hosh-a-rac-ah-tah," meaning "Good Land." To this day, it's still a fantastic place for fishing, where visitors can find musky, panfish, walleye and largemouth bass. During the winter freeze, it's one of the best ice-fishing lakes in the state.
Lower Menominee and Lower Peshtigo Rivers
Below the first dam and connected to the waters of Green Bay, you can find an abundance of game fish in the Lower Menominee and Lower Peshtigo rivers. Depending on the season, we're talking trout, walleye, whitefish, smallmouth bass, musky and salmon. Both rivers are also great for whitewater rafting if you're looking to add more adventure to your trip.
Coon Creek Fishery Area
Sprawled out in Vernon, Monroe, and La Crosse counties, Coon Creek balances shore and wading fishing with deer, squirrel, rabbit and wood duck hunting, making it a repeat spot for die-hard sportsmen. Plus, it's one of the best wheelchair-accessible fishing areas in the region.
Looking for more great spots to drop a line, explore more fishing in Wisconsin.