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Fishing

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Water, Water, Everywhere: The Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest is a water wonderland! The Forest contains the headwaters of three major drainages; the Mississippi watershed, the Lake Superior watershed and the Lake Michigan watershed. Contained within the forest boundaries are more than 2000 miles of stream (nearly 1400 miles are classified as trout water), more than 600 lakes greater than ten acres in size, over 400 spring ponds, and 324,000 acres of wetland.

It's Raining Fish: Over 50 species of fish occur on the Forest. Popular species include walleye, brook trout, brown trout, largemouth bass, smallmouth bass, bluegill, black crappie, yellow perch, northern pike, suckers, and of course the official fish of Wisconsin - the mighty "Muskellunge". Information on fishing different areas can be found on the Wisconsin DNR’s website at Streams and Lakes pages.

Motor, Canoe, Hike: The Forest offers a wide range of recreational fishing opportunities. Access ranges from fully developed launching facilities to carry-in with a mile or more hike. Road crossings provide access to a majority of our warm and coldwater rivers. Remember, don't let the winter stop you; ice fishing is a Northwoods tradition!

Wheelchair Access: A Barrier-free fishing pier is located on the east side of Butternut Lake and Elvoy Springs in the Eagle River-Florence Ranger District. Additional accessible fishing piers can also be found on many of the lakes that are associated with campgrounds and day use areas.

For those anglers that prefer stream fishing, we have the South Branch Oconto Barrier Free Fishing Trail, one of few trails of its kind across the country. This 1/4-mile fishing trail parallels the South Branch of the Oconto River in the Lakewood-Laona Ranger District, which is a quality brook and brown trout stream. The trail provides access to 11 fishing sites, ranging from flat spots along the shoreline to cantilever decks that allow the user to be out over the stream. The trail is a cooperative effort of the Forest and nine partner organizations.

Have a Reel Safe Trip!

  • Make sure everyone in the boat has a life preserver. IT'S THE LAW! It’s also a good idea to WEAR IT!
  • Fishing and water mix. Fishing and alcohol don't!
  • Ice should be at least 6 inches thick before walking on it.
  • Driving your car on ice, no matter how thick it is, is dangerous.

Before You Drop a Line: The Forest Service provides habitat for a wide range of fish and wildlife while the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (WDNR) is the agency primarily responsible for setting fishing seasons, size and limits, as well as license fees. Anglers must follow all the laws of the WDNR. Fishing licenses are required for all fishing (both residents and non-residents) and may be purchased through the WDNR at agency field offices or at most bait & tackle stores, and sporting goods stores in Wisconsin. Non-resident licenses are available to individuals and families for 4-days, 15-days, and the entire season. In June each year the WDNR offers a free fishing weekend. For specific information on fishing regulations and license fees visit the Wisconsin DNR’s website.

Areas & Activities


https://www.fs.usda.gov/activity/cnnf/recreation/fishing