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Hook, Line & Sinker: Rules and Regulations on Wisconsin’s Fisheries

Hook, Line & Sinker: Rules and Regulations on Wisconsin’s Fisheries

With its wealth of navigable streams, rivers, ponds, and lakes, Wisconsin is home to some of the best fishing opportunities that the Midwest has to offer. Whether you are wetting a line in search of panfish on the Wolf River, jigging for walleye in the depths of Lake Winnebago, or trolling for salmon off the shores of Lake Michigan, the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR) imposes rules and regulations that apply to all anglers.

Here are some important rules to keep in mind the next time you take to Wisconsin waters:

– All residents and non-residents age 16 and older must have a valid fishing license in order to fish on any waters of the state. Licenses can be purchased online from the Wisconsin DNR Go Wild! page.

– If you intend to fish for trout in inland waters or trout/salmon in the Great Lakes and its tributaries, you must purchase the requisite stamp prior to doing so.

– If you plan on guiding other anglers on Wisconsin waterways in exchange for compensation, you must obtain a Fishing and/or Sport Trolling Guide license.

– It is unlawful to fish with more than three hooks, baits, or lures per person at any one time.

– It is unlawful to release any unused bait into Wisconsin waters.

– It is unlawful to transport live fish off the particular body of water in which they were caught.

– When fishing for a particular species of fish, pay special attention to the season limits, bag limits, length limits, and possession limits for that species on the particular body of water you are fishing.

– Any fish that you catch and do not immediately release become part of your daily bag limit even if you release them at a later time.

– If fishing on a boat, a life preserver of the appropriate size must be readily available for each person on the boat.

– Remember to inspect your boat, trailer, and vehicle for invasive species and remove any plants, fish, or crustaceans from them prior to launch and after loading.

– Be sure to check for county-wide special regulations that may apply to the particular body of water you are fishing.

– It is unlawful to sell, trade, or barter any wildlife species, including fish in Wisconsin.

For more detailed information related to hook and line fishing in Wisconsin, consult the 2015-2016 Fishing Regulations promulgated by the DNR.