Milwaukee Fishing: Your Ultimate Guide

Studying Time: 9 minutes

Relying on who you ask, Milwaukee’s identify originates from a Native American phrase which means “Wealthy, lovely land,” or “Misfortune occurs.” Whereas town does possess wealthy and exquisite lands, we predict they pale compared to its aquatic choices, which embrace Lake Michigan and the Milwaukee River. “Misfortune occurs”? Nope – not once you embark on a Milwaukee fishing journey!

In addition to offering direct entry to 2 brag-worthy fisheries, the spectacular species that swarm Milwaukee’s waters make this locale effectively value a go to. Relying on once you head to the Badger State, you’ll discover enormous Salmon, tasty Trout, and every little thing in between. It’s an actual “who’s-who” of well-known freshwater recreation fish!

After which there’s all of the methods you possibly can catch ’em. Plumb the depths of Lake Michigan’s offshore waters for that trophy catch. Wade the Milwaukee River for a “back-to-nature” expertise. Or mix a go to to this thrilling metropolis with a day of fishing alongside the entire household. It’s as much as you!

Earlier than you seize your rods ‘n’ reels, have a look under. We’ve highlighted our favourite catches in Milwaukee, the perfect methods to fish right here, and a few “can’t-miss” hotspots…

What can I catch in Milwaukee?


There are two kinds of Salmon on provide in Milwaukee, and we’ve determined to cowl them each. Why? Nicely, they’re each worthy angling opponents in their very own distinctive manner. Chasing ’em alongside Lake Michigan is an actual bucket-list journey, and fishing in Milwaukee offers you the prospect to do exactly that.

Firstly, there’s Chinook Salmon. Also called “Kings,” these royal fish possess hard-fighting attitudes and the flexibility to develop to very large sizes. They’re joined by their barely smaller cousins, Coho Salmon. Smaller, sure – however the combat they put up pound-for-pound is not any much less thrilling! Each species additionally style fairly unimaginable. Not arduous to see why they’re a prime goal, proper?

In relation to getting probably the most out of Salmon fishing in Milwaukee, it’s all about timing. July–September are the most well liked months for Chinook Salmon fishing, with the annual Salmon run going down in September. Coho Salmon season begins in spring, round March, and is powerful till early June. It tapers off somewhat earlier than selecting up once more in late fall.

Native anglers advocate hooking Salmon with barely totally different strategies, relying on the place you’ll be fishing. On Lake Michigan, trolling is your greatest guess. Heading to the Milwaukee River or its tributaries? Drift fishing takes first place.


In relation to Milwaukee’s favourite fish, there’s one species that’s an actual contender to the Salmon’s throne. We’re speaking about Trout, after all! Should you don’t instantly equate these fish with thrilling angling motion, head all the way down to Milwaukee and prepare to vary your thoughts. Each Lake and Brown Trout inhabit the waters right here – and so they’re able to do battle.

Lake Michigan is thought for its wonderful fishery, and for good cause. Enormous Lake Trout inhabit its deeper waters, with trophy varieties displaying up between late June and September. Go to throughout these months and also you’ll be in for a combat towards 40+ lb specimens. Ensure you convey some heavy sort out! High your hook off with Minnows or Salmon eggs, and watch for the chunk to hit.

If Lake Trout take the trophy in relation to measurement, then Brown Trout are all in regards to the thrill of the chase. These finicky fish are simply spooked, and make anglers work arduous to expertise their wonderful recreation qualities. Our recommendation? Use mild spinning sort out aided by spoons, spinners, and plugs. Forged rigorously and quietly, and put together your self for the following battle.

Lake Michigan isn’t the one Trout fishing hotspot close to Milwaukee. The Milwaukee River additionally offers ample angling motion and is an particularly common spot for eager fly fishers. March till early Might is the prime time to solid a line.

Steelhead (Rainbow Trout)

Okay, perhaps we may’ve included Steelhead in our Trout part – however we predict these fish deserve their very own highlight. Also called Rainbow Trout, they’re a agency freshwater staple everywhere in the US. That is very true of Milwaukee! Why? As a result of it’s residence to 2 incomparable Steelhead fisheries – Lake Michigan and the Milwaukee River.

We expect the Milwaukee River usually will get barely overshadowed by mighty Lake Michigan, however not so in relation to Steelhead fishing. Though you will discover a robust variety of Steelhead inhabiting the lake, they’re much more plentiful within the river, as their spring run begins there in March. This waterway can be stuffed with deep pockets that Steelhead love to cover away in.

Should you’re a fly fishing fanatic, a day chasing Steelhead on the Milwaukee River is one thing you received’t need to miss out on. These fish are extraordinarily attentive to flies, particularly in the event that they’re giant and rigged on sinking traces, and this system lets you actually really feel the combat they put up.

Heading to Lake Michigan to your Steelhead as an alternative? You may hook ’em on mild sort out from shore between late spring and summer season. After they flock to the lake’s deeper waters, trolling with stay bait akin to shrimp, worms, or crayfish is a tried-and-true approach.


Should you’re searching for a fishing journey that’s simply pure enjoyable, then Carp’s the goal for you. Head all the way down to the decrease components of the Milwaukee River, the place the waters are hotter. You’ll discover loads of large Carp splashing round! Sunny shorelines near weed development are particularly productive spots, with the fish coming near the floor of the water.

These fish have a considerably shaky repute in Milwaukee. They’re infamous for his or her capability to change and injury ecosystems, and are thought-about an invasive species. Nonetheless, this implies you possibly can goal ’em in some significantly thrilling methods, and be ok with doing all of your bit for the native waterways, too. Allow us to introduce you to an area manner of catching Carp…

Spearfishing or bowfishing! Yep, going after Carp with a fishing bow or a speargun is a well-liked approach. Simply be sure to take a look at the laws for the stretch of the river you’ll be fishing in. Spearfishing is usually not allowed throughout the metropolis limits of Milwaukee, however is authorized in close by counties akin to Ozaukee. Belief us – it’s well worth the brief journey!

And the Relaxation!

Though these are our favourite catches in Milwaukee, they’re in no way the one fish you possibly can catch right here. The superstars we outlined above are joined by a fairly spectacular supporting solid, together with Walleye, Bass varieties, and engaging Panfish akin to Yellow Perch and Crappie.

How can I fish in Milwaukee?

There’s an entire host of how to solid a line in Milwaukee. Typically, the kind of fishing you’ll be doing will depend upon the place you select to go. An angling journey out on Lake Michigan’s offshore waters, for instance, seems to be very totally different from a city-based river journey! Let’s discover out extra…

On a Boat

In case your concept of fishing in Milwaukee is all about exploring Lake Michigan, then hopping aboard a constitution boat is a should. You’ll need to be sure to get probably the most out of the lake’s huge waters, and there’s nobody higher to point out you the ropes than an area information. You’ll additionally be capable to cowl loads of floor by utilizing fishing aids like outriggers and downriggers.

Resulting from its measurement, native guides and captains deal with Lake Michigan as extra of an inland sea than a lake. That is undoubtedly mirrored within the constitution vessels on provide alongside Milwaukee’s waterfront! You’ll see an array of spectacular sportfishing boats which are completely constructed to sort out this physique of water.

Should you’re selecting to fish one of many lake’s tributaries, together with the Milwaukee River, your mode of transportation would possibly differ barely. Relatively than souped-up sportfishing machines, you’re extra prone to encounter conventional drift boats, excellent for cruising down the river and chasing your goal species.

On Foot

Excellent news for these of you who’d relatively not hop aboard a ship – each Lake Michigan and the Milwaukee River are wonderful shore fishing areas. You may fish Lake Michigan a mere 5 minutes from downtown Milwaukee, utilizing one of many many piers or state parks, and stretches of the Milwaukee River that run via town are prime for wading.

Once more, it’s all about timing in relation to getting probably the most out of your on-foot journey. Should you’re seeking to fish Lake Michigan, it’s greatest to go to between fall and winter, when Trout and Salmon varieties head to shallower waters. This will increase your likelihood of hooking an enormous fish with out having to journey to deeper waters.

On the Milwaukee River, fall is when the annual Salmon run takes place, so go to throughout this time for loads of motion. A tip from native anglers is to go out early within the morning if you happen to’re seeking to goal Steelies, Salmon varieties, or Trout. If it’s Carp you’re after, the sunnier the climate, the higher!

From a Kayak

Seeking to check out a barely totally different manner of fishing? Then why not solid a line from a kayak? This technique of angling is turning into increasingly more common, particularly for anglers who wish to discover freshwater fishing grounds. You probably have the energy and stamina to wield a rod and maneuver your individual vessel on the identical time, it’s significantly unbeatable!

Though it’s potential to go kayak fishing on Lake Michigan, we usually wouldn’t advocate it. Its waters are unpredictable and might turn into harmful rapidly. The Milwaukee River, nonetheless, is a good place to provide it a attempt. There are kayak launches dotted all alongside its shorelines, and also you’ll encounter something from Trout to Salmon and smaller Panfish.

The place can I fish in Milwaukee?

Whether or not you’re seeking to solid a line solely minutes from downtown Milwaukee, or are prepared to drive somewhat additional out, the sheer variety of state parks, piers, docks, and marinas will ship your head spinning. Under, we’ve outlined a few of our favorites.

  • Lakeshore State Park: Completely positioned within the beating coronary heart of downtown Milwaukee, this state park affords direct entry to Lake Michigan, with intensive shore fishing alternatives. Brown Trout and Salmon varieties are common catches right here.
  • McKinley Marina: Should you’re seeking to discover the depths of Lake Michigan with an skilled information, that is the place you’ll discover ’em! A complete host of constitution boats are docked at McKinley Marina, so that you’ll have your choose of the bunch.
  • Milwaukee’s Inside Harbor: Milwaukee’s Harbor District has been on the heart of town’s prosperity for a whole lot of years. A go to to Milwaukee’s Inside Harbor will take you proper into the middle of this hub. In addition to a slice of historical past, it additionally affords up boat launches and shore entry to the Milwaukee River.
  • Peninsula Park: Journey half an hour north of Milwaukee into Ozaukee County, and also you’ll encounter some wonderful Carp-spearing alternatives. Peninsula Park is situated proper on the banks of the Milwaukee River and is a well-liked spot for spearos and bowfishers alike.
  • Estabrook Park: This lovely park is the proper place for anglers who like to absorb some beautiful greenery together with prime fishing motion. You’ll have intensive entry to a stretch of the Milwaukee River that’s bustling with Salmon varieties, Steelhead, and even Smallmouth Bass.

Guidelines and Rules

Any angler over the age of 16 might want to buy a legitimate Wisconsin fishing license, even when they’re fishing alongside an area constitution captain. It is a easy course of that you are able to do on-line, via the Wisconsin Division of Pure Assets web site. The kind of license you’ll want, nonetheless, differs relying on the place you’re fishing.

Should you’re seeking to discover Lake Michigan, you should purchase a 2-Day Nice Lakes license, which incorporates Trout and Salmon stamps. Should you’re fishing one other physique of water or tributary, there’s a choice of licenses so that you can select from, together with a reduced-rate first-time patrons license. For extra info, take a look at our information to getting a Wisconsin fishing license.

Milwaukee Fishing: Filled with Good Fortune!

We expect it’s honest to say that fishing in Milwaukee has lots going for it. You may wander all the way down to the waterfront and solid a line into mighty Lake Michigan, with a shocking cityscape as your backdrop. You may step foot into one among its many nationwide parks and lose your self in nature as you chase your goal fish. Misfortune occurs? Certain – however provided that you don’t go fishing in Milwaukee!

Have you ever ever been fishing in Milwaukee? What did you catch? Any ideas and methods to share with us? Tell us within the feedback. We love listening to from you!

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