If you live in Milwaukee or are planning on visiting during the winter months then you don’t want to miss out on the chance to go Ice Fishing. The lakes are beautiful in Wisconsin and you will be able to catch a variety of fish.
While there are several spots to catch fish in Wisconsin, I’ll focus on the areas closest to Milwaukee. If you want to find some fishing spots for somewhere else in Wisconsin, or in several other states, check out our other articles focusing on those places.
So without further ado, the places to fish around Milwaukee:
- Little Cedar Lake
- Nagawicka Lake
- Scout Lake
- Brown Deer Park
- Humboldt Park
- Kosciuszko Pond
1. Little Cedar Lake
Types of Fish: northern pike, walleye, rock bass, smallmouth bass, bluegills, carp, and bullheads.
This 246-acre glacier-formed lake is located near West Bend in the Kettle Moraine area of Washington County. It serves as a great retreat from the hustle and bustle of daily life with plenty of opportunities to get out on the ice and fish.
The lake’s ice is usual stable by early January and will last until March or April depending on the weather. Public access to the lake is often from the boat ramp at Ackerman’s Grove County Park on the southeast side of the lake.
Though this isn’t the only entrance for ice fishers. With over 4 miles of coastline, you can enter from anywhere, since you won’t be needing a boat to head out unto the lake. The lake’s depth varies with it’s deepest section reaching 56 feet.
The area is popular. So, you will have plenty of interactions with other anglers that are also on the ice. This area often pulls those interested in the abundant panfish. bluegill, largemouth bass, and smallmouth bass.
If you are concerned about where you will stay on your fishing trip then there is no need to worry there are plenty of available resting spots including Acerkman’s Grove County Park. You can use the county park as a rest stop with available restrooms, parking, and picnic areas.
If you don’t feel like staying outdoors than you can head into Milwaukee and enjoy the museums, fine dining, and hotels that the city holds. Milwaukee is about 30 miles southeast of Little Cedar Lake.
2. Nagawicka Lake
Types of Fish: Nothernwalleye, bluegill, Crappie, and Perch.
This 981-acre lake is one of the largest in the Milwaukee area. It is very easy to access from the city being just off of expressway I-94. This lake is a popular destination for fishing at any time of the year.
It reaches a maximum depth of 90 feet and is often frozen within the first week or two of January. The area is popular enough to hold large scale events such as an annual ice-fishing jamboree. Which takes place on the first Saturday in February, so long as weather permits.
There are two major entrances to the lake the Jensen Nature Preserve and the Naga Waukee County Park.
The ice fishing clinic that the lake puts on at the end of January teaches new fishers the practical skills that are involved in ice fishing as well as ways to use the equipment and bait. all of this can be provided at the event so there is no need to worry about not having the materials to get started.
Additionally, the lake is really clear allowing for a rather unique experience especially if you are going to use an underwater camera to capture everything that you are trying to catch under the water.
This large lake is filled with prize-winning fish. These fish are even prevalent during the winter months. It is because of this and its location that there are often several groups of anglers that will make there way out onto the lake during the winter months. They will try and see just how large a catch they can grab with their tip-ups and jigging spoons.
3. Scout Lake
Types of Fish: Panfish, Largemouth Bass, and Nothern Pike.
Scout Lake is a small but popular lake that has a fairly abundant but low variety of fish. With a maximum depth of 19-feet this five-acre lake is made popular but the events that are held on it rather than the quality of the fish that you will be fishing for.
The major event that it is known for is the free ice-fishing clinic for kids that Scout Lake participates in. In cooperation with Walleyes, unlimited Scout lake has teamed up to teach kids the basics of ice fishing. They cover the basics of safety and position the winter sport in a nuanced way so anyone can pick it up.
Scout Lake, because of its small size is a great place for beginners to start. So if you are in the area and are looking to get started or are traveling and trying to introduce someone to the sport than ice fishing on scout lake is a great place to begin.
The ice gets up to 6-inches thick making it a great and safe place to ice fish. There will be signs posted warning of thin ice, but you should always test the area yourself to keep yourself safe.
4. Brown Deer Park
Types of Fish: Panfish, Largemouth Bass, and Trout.
A very shallow and simple pond Brown deer park reaches a maximum depth of 6 feet and is only 5 acres in size. Now I don’t know about you but I would hardly call that depth more than a pond.
But if you are looking to just get started ice fishing it is another great place to go. Similar to Scout Lake, this lake is one of the places where the annual free ice-fishing clinic is run. So it is very accessible to beginners.
The lake is stocked with trout, mainly rainbow and brook, so there will always be more for you to fish for. It’s a great lake for a quick and easy catch or for seeing what this sport is all about in the first place.
5. Humboldt Park
Types of Fish: Panfish and Largemouth Bass
One of the smallest lakes on the list this 4-acre lake has a maximum depth of 3 feet. The ice in the area looks perfectly clear almost like it is glass, which can provide for very cool experiences for ice fishers and ice skaters alike.
Beginners will be able to see the fish they are trying to catch under the water which can be both a benefit and a defect if the ice fisher isn’t too patient. But either way, it will give you something to do as you ice fish rather than the guessing game that this sport can often turn into.
Humboldt Park is another one of the six parks that hold the ice fishing clinic for kids. For anyone that is under 15 years of age, you will be able to have hands-on teachers. These instructors will push the importance of ice safety, the use of both safety and fishing equipment as well as use skills such as fish identification and demonstrations fo fishing itself. Equipment is provided to those who don’t have any.
6. Kosciuszko Pond
Types of Fish: Bluegill, Largemouth Bass, Panfish, and Rainbow Trout
3-acres in size this pond reaches about 4 feet deep. There is quite a variety of fish in the small pond with bluegill, largemouth, and rainbow trout all available in a fair abundance throughout the small pond.
This is another great place for beginners. You can see why fishing is so popular in Milwaukee; there are plenty of opportunities for people to get started. This pond is also one of the participants in the free clinic that is available in the early months of the winter.
One of the largest benefits of such a small lake is how quickly it freezes you can often hit this lake earlier than the other lakes because it will freeze in mid to late December. Be careful during this early time frame as the ice may still be unsafe.
There you have it. Whether you are just starting at ice fishing or want to engage in the community Milwaukee has a place for you.