Opening day of the Wisconsin fishing season. File photo by Dan Plutchak

OSHKOSH — The 2022-2023 fishing season will open on Saturday, May 7, 2022. All regulations and license requirements apply.

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

“Spring has been slow to arrive across the state, and with the late ice thaw on northern lakes, the fish will be hungry and eager to bite,” said Justine Hasz, DNR Bureau Director of Fisheries Management. 


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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, according to a Wisconsin DNR news release.

You can buy licenses through Go Wild, the DNR’s license portal, or from a license agent.

Fishing Forecasts

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. 

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 you 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.

As anglers head out to their favorite fishing locations, the DNR is reminding them to:

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

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By Dan Plutchak

Dan Plutchak, born and raised in Kaukauna, is cofounder of Kaukauna Community News.