Wisconsin's general fishing season opens May 7

The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources announced the 2022-2023 fishing season will open on Saturday, May 7. All regulations and license requirements apply.

No matter where anglers decide to fish, all Wisconsin residents and non-residents over the age of 16 are required to purchase a fishing license. Licenses can be bought through Go Wild, the DNR’s license portal, or from a license agent.

Over the past year, DNR staff have worked to responsibly manage Wisconsin’s fishery resources by maintaining and enhancing critical fish habitats, conducting fish population surveys, adding classified trout waters, and stocking millions of fish into inland lakes, streams and Great Lakes.

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As anglers head out to their favorite fishing locations, the DNR would like to remind them to:

Wisconsin DNR Department of Natural Resources

Fishing Forecasts

Based on early season fishing reports, the DNR predicts anglers across the state will have a successful opening weekend despite a slower spring thaw.

Anglers searching for panfish will find them in warm, shallow water near trees and stumps, though with the late warm-up, they may be sluggish. Expect to catch some perch in the weedy bays and at the mouths of smaller tributaries around the Winnebago System. 

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With minimal precipitation and shorter vegetation along streams, anglers should be stealthy while fishing for trout. Brown trout and splake are abundant this year in Lake Superior and can commonly be found in the shallow waters of the Apostle Islands and Chequamegon Bay region in the spring. Brown trout are also in the shallow waters around the shores of Lake Michigan, and anglers can find lake trout around harbors and rocks. 

Cooler temperatures have delayed walleye spawning in the northern parts of the state. As a result, they will likely be hanging around shoreline habitats. Anglers can expect to find plenty of walleye over 15 inches in the St. Louis River, its estuary areas and along Wisconsin’s Lake Superior south shore. Anglers should focus on fishing Lake Wisconsin for the opener as walleye make their way back after spawning on the Wisconsin River. 

Like panfish, bass have remained sluggish, and anglers should head to deeper waters to find those that haven’t moved into shallow, warmer waters. Northern pike will likely be in post-spawn mode and actively feeding.

Steelhead are just finishing their spawning runs, though anglers may still find them in rivers and harbors, and Coho salmon are starting to make their annual northward migration along the Lake Michigan lakeshore.

Contact a local fisheries biologist for more information or find a launch or fishing location near you.