Best Bass Fishing Lakes in Wisconsin: Cheese Heads Fish Too

Coty Perry

Not many anglers consider Wisconsin to be a top bass fishing destination.

It’s actually just all the locals trying to keep it a secret, it’s a haven for bass!

With more than 15,000 lakes of varying sizes, Wisconsin can easily be counted among the other bass fishing hotspots 

Moreover, as per the Wisconsin fishing records, every year more than 330,000 nonresident anglers visit the state in search of bass.

Let’s take a look at some of the best bass fishing lakes in Wisconsin.

Going fishing in Wisconsin? Then give a read to our Wisconsin Fishing License guide.

14 Spots For the Best Bass Fishing in Wisconsin

1. Lake Winnebago

Lake Winnebago

If you’re looking for the best bass fishing destination in Wisconsin, you’ve found it.

As per locals, the smallmouth and largemouth population is evenly balanced in the lake. It’s also a popular ice-fishing destination.

Located in east-central Wisconsin, Lake Winnebago[1] is the largest lake that lies entirely within the state.

It’s also easily accessible from the cities like Appleton, Oshkosh, Fond du Lac, and Neenah that surround the lake.

With miles of shorelines to explore and plenty of weed-covered and grassy zones, the lake is great for shore fishing. Locals also suggest casting around the docks for big bass. 

Here you’ll find bass that might make you feel like you’re in the south fishing in Georgia or Texas.

The best choice of baits is small crankbaits, swim jigs, and the ever-popular plastic worms. 

Pro tip- keep away from the east side of the lake.

2. Lake Geneva

Lake Geneva

Many veterans consider Lake Geneva as the best destination for smallmouth bass fishing. The average size of the bass is between 2 to 3 pounds. The excellent bass population makes it a great spot for newbie anglers.

Nestled on the shores of the lake is the city of Lake Geneva[2] which is about 1.5-hour away from Chicago. 

It has a surface area of around 5,401 acres and the water is crystal clear.

In one of my previous visits, I used worms and craw baits for luring the clear water bass and found them highly effective.

However, the pleasure boat traffic on the lake is extremely heavy during summer. So avoiding the weekends while planning your fishing trip is a good idea.

3. Chequamegon Bay

Chequamegon Bay

We can’t forget about the Great Lakes, can we?

This inlet of Lake Superior juts into the Ashland and Bayfield counties in Northern Wisconsin forming the Chequamegon Bay[3]. You can also reach here from Minnesota.

The bay is regarded as an excellent bass fishery in Wisconsin for “trophy bass” hunters. Between mid-May through late October, the smallmouth population remains quite high.  

In fact, one of ten fish caught in this body of water crosses the 19-inch mark. The bass in Chequamegon Bay also has a higher average lifespan than those in other lakes.

Try using soft plastic lures in the shallow flats with weed areas which are the pre-spawn and spawning areas for bass.

4. Pelican Lake

Pelican Lake

Without a doubt, Pelican Lake[4] is one of the best bass fishing destinations in Oneida County. With an area of 3,500 acres, the lake offers a large area that anglers can explore

During my visit to the lake two years back, I found the shallower weedy shorelines the ideal spots for largemouth bass. For luring the smallies, head out to the deeper waters.

The other spots you can explore are around the piers and shore structures.

Spring and summer are the best periods for targeting both bass species. Personally, I prefer late spring since the water temperature remains optimum for bass.

Try using plastic worms, jigs ,and surface baits to get the best results.

5. Eau Claire Chain of Lakes

Eau Claire Chain of Lakes

Made up of a chain of eleven lakes, this water body is one of the finest bass fishing destinations in Douglas County, Wisconsin. The three main lakes are Upper Eau Claire, Middle Eau Claire, and Lower Eau Claire[5].

In total, you get 3,200 acres of surface area that are perfect for fall and spring fishing. The upper lake also has connecting waterways and channels that are great for boat fishing.

In addition, the lush forests surrounding the lakes make it the perfect destination for hiking through fishing trails.

If you don’t have much time, avoid the smaller lakes and head for the Upper Lake. It’s a popular destination for trophy bass. 

 Both smallmouth and largemouth are found in abundance in these waters. Since the water is extremely clear in all the lakes, the low light conditions work best for bass fishing.

6. Jute Lake

Jute Lake

Sometimes, the bass is found in the least expected locations. This small 191-acre lake is 25 minutes from the town of Boulder Junction in Vilas County. While it’s not big, it has very little pressure and a bass population that’s eager to strike at bait.

Jute lake[6] is a great spot for baitcasting as well as fly fishing. The maximum depth of the lake is just 23 feet. In summer, largemouth bass will be lurking in shallow waters.

So picking the right spots around the perimeter during the low-light hours is a good idea.

Moreover, Jute Lake also offers the Northwoods solitude for anglers looking for a relaxing weekend. Since it’s a remote spot, it’s best that you take a guide.

7. Big Saint Germain Lake

Big Saint Germain Lake

Most anglers know this lake for its healthy population of musky.

However, it’s also a great spot for catching largemouth, as well as smallmouth bass. The best time for bass fishing is during the months of May and June.

The 1,600-acre lake[7] is 265 miles away from Minneapolis and a great destination for a weekend angling trip. You can stay in any of the small cities around the lake or choose a lodge near the lakeside.

For newcomers, it’s best to take the help of a guide who knows the topography of the lake. Since the lakeside is bordered by private properties, boat fishing is the best option.

Note, the waters of the lake are murky. So choose your baits accordingly.

8. Rock Lake

Rock Lake

This 1,365-acre natural glacial lake is located in Jefferson County and is a bass fishing hotspot. It has a healthy population of smallmouth and largemouth bass

If you find the Northern shore to be more crowded, head for the lovely woods surrounding the eastern shore. Or else move towards the western shore for more secluded fishing spots.

During the spawning season look for the bass on the rock structure or slate banks. Quite often, largemouth and smallmouth spawn in the same area.

There is a wide range of recreational facilities in Rock Lake[8]. That makes it a great destination for a fishing trip for the family.

9. Big Cedar Lake

Big Cedar Lake

The Big Cedar Lake[9] is the largest in the Cedar Lakes watershed in Washington County. It has a surface area of 900 acres and more than 10 miles of shoreline.

The lake is best known for largemouth bass, but smallmouth and rock bass are also found. The best part is, bass is found in every part of the lake.

Using soft plastics and spinnerbaits in the north basin of the lake delivers great results. 

In general, the average size of the largemouth found here is between 13 to 16 inches. However, some trophy bass has also been caught from the lake.

Keep in mind, the lake is also a popular destination for recreational boating and picnicking. So time your trip during the off-hours to avoid the crowds during summer fishing season.

10. Mississippi River Pool 10

Mississippi River Pool 10

If you’re seeking an exciting bass fishing spot, head for the Mississippi River Pool 10.

Located near Prairie du Chien and Lynxville, the pool contains more varieties of fish than any of the best fishing lakes in Wisconsin. 

Overall, it’s an excellent destination for largemouth, smallmouth, and white bass. The fun part is, the river structure keeps changing depending on the flowage.

That results in a continuous shift in the hot spots. So, finding new spots for the bass is always a challenge.

Besides, you can look for bass in the river without needing a boat. Find a fishing pier, or shoreline access point and get ready to cast your bait.

The best seasons for some ferocious action are spring and fall.

11. Trout Lake

Trout Lake

With a surface area of 6.2 square miles, this is one of the largest lakes[10] in Vilas County and is located near Boulder Junction. 

And don’t let the name mislead you. This is one of the best fishing lakes in Wisconsin for smallmouth bass.

A large section of the shoreline is underdeveloped. While that makes this clear waterbody stand out in terms of wilderness aesthetics, you might consider getting help from a guide.

Locals also suggest using a fishfinder or a depth finder to locate the rock bars, and small islands under the water. Since the water is clear, practicing stealth is also necessary.

The lake also has two campgrounds which offer basic facilities. So you can plan a weekend camping and fishing trip with the family.

12. Flambeau River

 Flambeau River

The Flambeau River[11] is one of the best destinations in Northern Wisconsin for chasing giant smallmouth bass.

Since the river is full of boulders and various other structures, there are plenty of locations ideal for shore fishing or kayak fishing.

As per locals, mid-summer is the best season for bass fishing. This is true for a lot of Northern fishing states like New Jersey as well. . In fact, you can easily catch smallmouth above 18 inches in these waters.

To get the most strikes, choose from spinnerbaits, crankbaits, and plastics depending on the depth and water speed

13. Lake Mendota

Lake Mendota

If you’re looking for the best bass fishing lake in Wisconsin near Madison, Lake Mendota[12] is the best option.

This 9781-acre lake is the largest in Madison and has a sizeable smallmouth bass population

Since this is a large water body with numerous underwater features and sharp contours, you’ll need a map and fish-finding devices.

The warm months are the best time to catch trophy bass.

As per the veterans, smallmouth in the lake is mad about crayfish. Using spinnerbaits and buzz baits on the weedy edges provides great results. Apart from that, you can also use a live-bait rig.

14. Balsam Lake

Balsam Lake

With more than 2000 acres of open water, this is the biggest lake in Polk County. This beautiful lake[13] is also one with a dense bass population of largemouth bass.

And most of the fish are above 15 inches in size.

Locals mention that the east end of the lake offers some of the best spots for luring the bass. The landing at the east end is also a spawning bed for the largemouth.

However, the fish can be picky. So make sure to use the right type of baits.

Final Thoughts

There you have it. Our list of the best bass fishing lakes in Wisconsin.

With a variety of options, it offers excellent fishing opportunities for veterans and also for novices trying to find their footing.

Before planning a trip you need to know when do bass spawn in Wisconsin

That period is between late April to early July. This is the most exciting period for bass anglers.

Do you have any other Wisconsin lakes to recommend from your angling journeys? Consider checking out the best bass fishing spots in Tennessee while you’re at it!

Let us know in the comment section.

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