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Weekend Getaways

The 6 Best Ice Fishing Lakes in Wisconsin

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When the temperatures start to drop and the cold sets in, anglers know it’s time for just one thing: ice fishing! Ice fishing is an incredibly popular activity during the winter months, especially in Wisconsin. Wisconsin is known for having some great places to cast your line and catch some great fish. However, if you are unfamiliar with these areas you may be looking for advice on where to start ice fishing. Or maybe you’re tired of going to the same lake every winter and are looking for a change of scenery. No matter why you’re interested, we have a comprehensive list of the best ice fishing lakes in Wisconsin.

Anglers who enjoy ice fishing know that there is no other feeling but to get up early, go to your spot and wait for the fish to bite. So if you’re excited to get started, check out some of the best ice fishing lakes in America’s Dairyland.

Green Bay

Our list starts with one of the most popular options: Green Bay. Green Bay is a beautiful basin of Lake Michigan. The body of water is incredibly large at 2,000,000 acres and is one of the most popular ice fishing spots in the country. Since Green Bay is such a large body of water, you will encounter some fairly large fish. The area is known for some fairly large walleye. In addition, you can also catch white fish. There are also other fish that swim in these waters such as trout and smallmouth bass, yellow bass, northern pike and rainbow trout to name a few.

However, if you’ve never been ice fishing before, this might not be the most beginner-friendly lake. The lake can actually be quite dangerous as huge pressure cracks can cause the ice to shift and buckle. Keep this in mind when planning a trip here. Be sure to get a bathymetry chart and look out for spots where the water is at least 20 to 30 feet deep.

Ice anglers in Wisconsin head to Green Bay thanks to the large number of walleye and whitefish that you can catch here.

© Neal

Lake Winnebago

As the largest lake found only in Wisconsin, Lake Winnebago is known across the country as a fantastic fishing spot. Ice fishing on Lake Winnebago is an incredibly popular excursion with both locals and out-of-town visitors alike. One of the main reasons so many anglers come here is the size of the lake. That means you have plenty of room to spread out.

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There are countless easy access points throughout the lake and plenty of bait shops too. You have a chance of catching some pretty awesome fish such as B. zander, white bass, perch, sea sturgeon, panfish and pike. Keep in mind that during the winter many of the fish migrate towards the main lake basin. If you’re willing to drill holes and roam the lake, you’ll find plenty of fish under the ice.

Sunset on Lake Winnebago Wisconsin
Anglers from across the country come to Lake Winnebago to ice fish.

© Frohmader

Dairyland Reservoir

If you’re looking for some of the best ice fishing in Wisconsin, look no further than Dairyland Reservoir. Dairyland Reservoir is a 4,000-acre lake in Rusk County. What makes this such a popular choice for ice anglers is that it’s technically part of a river. Since it’s part of the Flambeau River, this reservoir is filled with tons of fish. You can fish for crappie, walleye, pike, perch and bluegill fish. The range does require a catch-and-release requirement for bass though, so keep that in mind. Especially at the weekends there is a lot of activity in this area with anglers hoping for big pike. So be prepared to share the ice cream with others. If you’re looking for a more private experience, try visiting the Dairyland Reservoir on weekdays.

Ice fishing hole
In the winter months, anglers head to Dairyland Reservoir to catch plenty of panfish and walleye.


Green Lake

Green Lake, also known as Big Green Lake or Big Green, is one of the deepest lakes in the state. The lake reaches a depth of 235 feet and has 7,920 acres. This means that you have a lot of freedom for ice fishing here. The ice here is usually ready for ice fishing by the end of January. There are many fish to catch here including walleye, pike, bluegill and crappie.

However, the fish that everyone comes to Green Lake for is white bass, as they are found in such large numbers here. It’s important to remember that the sheer size and depth of this lake means it’s not necessarily a beginner’s paradise. The fish that swim through here are larger, so be prepared!

Big Green Lake in Wisconsin
You’ll find tons of white bass at Big Green Lake as many anglers come here looking for trophy white bass.

©NealVickers, CC BY-SA 4.0 via Wikimedia Commons License

Boom Lake

Boom Lake is a 365-acre lake in Oneida County, in Rhinelander. This lake is on the smaller side and only about 30 feet deep. However, despite its small size, it is a popular spot for ice fishing. In fact, the weekends are pretty chaotic here because so many anglers come to this small lake. Hodag Country, where this lake is located, is actually known as the Ice Fishing Capital of the World. There are many fishing tournaments held in the area, as well as plenty of accommodation and amenities in the area if you’re staying for more than a day. Some of the fish you can catch here are walleye, perch, pike, musk and panfish.

The boat dock provides easy access to many of the best ice fishing areas here. If you happen to be at the north end of the main lake, you’ll encounter shallower water. However if you go in at about 17 feet and at about 21 feet you will find two holes where you will encounter many bluegill and crappie fish.

Fishing walleye fish in the hands of the angler.
This lake is located in Hodag Country which is known as the world capital of ice fishing. Zander is one of the species of fish that you can catch here.


Madison Chains

The Madison Chain of Lakes, which includes Lake Mendota, Lake Monona, Lake Waubesa, Lake Kegonsa, and Lake Wingra, are some of the best options if you’re interested in ice fishing. All five of these lakes are unique and offer you a different ice fishing experience. The sea area usually freezes over in late December or early January. Once the lake freezes over you can usually expect to be able to fish by the end of March. Lake Mendota is the largest of the Madison Chain of Lakes. This lake is 9,781 acres and reaches a depth of 83 feet. It is known for tons of bass, pike, crappie, bluegill, perch, walleye and catfish.

Lake Monona is another deep lake with a maximum depth of 74 feet. In the center of the lake you will find several 70 foot deep holes. Since much of the water in this lake is actually shallow, it is home to a large population of fish such as walleye, pike and largemouth bass. Lake Waubesa is 2074 acres and is also another shallow lake whose deepest hole is 36 feet. Here you can catch plenty of bluegill, crappie fish and largemouth bass. Since the lake is smaller, it also freezes over quickly.

Lake Mendota
The Madison Chain of Lakes includes five distinct lakes, all of which are distinct and unique bodies of water.

© Venker


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