Fishing Regulations in Wisconsin

Last Updated: 17.06.19

Wisconsin or the land of cheese is one of the most diverse and unique states in the United States, counting for a rich geography. The Wisconsin River is the largest river in the area, providing plenty of leisure activities, including rafting and fishing.

Wisconsin also offers plenty of touristic attractions, ranking 3rd in the national tourism industry of the country. The city also counts for numerous lakes and rivers, leading to a highly developed water recreation industry. Thus, fishing represents an important activity in the field, attracting thousands of nonresidents yearly.


Free fishing weekends

Since fishing is a highly respected activity in the field, the state offers two free fishing weekends during the 2019 – 2019 period of time for all avid fishermen. During these weekends, fishing permits and licenses are not required, meaning all residents and nonresidents can fish for free, without exceeding the national daily bag limitation.

June 3-4 2019 and January 20-21 2019 represent this year’s free fishing weekends for the state of Wisconsin. The following free weekends are calculated depending on the calendar, following this rule: the first consecutive Saturday and Sunday in June, as well as the third Saturday and Sunday in January.


License and permits

Fishing licenses and permits vary in price depending on their duration and type of resident. For instance, an annual resident fishing license costs $20, while the fee for nonresidents is $50. The one-day permit for nonresidents costs $10, while for the 15-day license you will have to pay $28.

Residents are also able to purchase a one-day fishing license for $8, while the sports license (including fishing and hunting of small game) costs $60 per year. Keep in mind that these prices are only informative and you should check out state’s regulations for any changes in price.


Strict regulations

Just like in all other American states, it is illegal to fish in the state waters of Wisconsin without holding onto a valid fishing license or permit. Keep in mind that, unlike in other states, waters from private ponds and lakes are still considered national waters so you will still require a license, tag or stamp regardless of the owner’s preferences.

While in most states it is illegal to fish with more than two hooks, in Wisconsin the maximum allowed limit of hooks, lures, and baits is three.

It is illegal to use any other fishing tools or means than hooks, baits, and lures.

It is strictly forbidden to use or possess any of the following: spears, gill nets, trammel nets, hoop nets, snag hooks or fish traps.

It is illegal to tag or mark a fish and release it after without obtaining a previous permit from qualified authorities.

It is strictly forbidden to sponsor any type of fishing tournament (including on private properties) without a previous permit.

It is forbidden to fish in fish refuges or any other similar places.

It is unlawful to stock fish into the waters of Wisconsin without a stocking permit.

It is illegal to possess, trade, buy or sell game fish of any kind.


Daily bag limit

When it comes to daily bag limit, Wisconsin regulations claim a total bag limit of 25 individual fishes, according to the size and weight of state laws. However, depending on the species, the daily bag limit may not exceed more than a certain number of individuals from a certain fish species.

You are entitled to maximum 25 catfish per day, one herring, whitefish or hybrids, 10 outlying water, 5 largemouth and smallmouth bass in any combination, as well as 25 panfish (including crappie, bluegill, and yellow perch).

It is forbidden to catch any ruffe or gobies, as well as rock bass, white and yellow bass, rough fish or bullheads.

You are entitled to one lake sturgeon per season, as well as 3 shovelnose sturgeons daily.

Special regulations and daily limits apply to frogs and turtles, depending on the species.



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