Ice fishing in Wisconsin is just part of the year-round sport of Wisconsin fishing. As we say, “The best time to fish is whenever you can!” Ice fishing actually makes up a quarter of the annual catch in Wisconsin. The great Mississippi River and its backwaters, plus other lakes and rivers nearby, mean lots of opportunities for ice fishing.
For more information on fishing and other exciting things to do in our area, be sure to download our complimentary Vacation Guide. It’s packed with just about everything you need to know in order to plan your Driftless Wisconsin vacation.
Ice Fishing in Wisconsin on the Mississippi River
While you can go ice fishing in Wisconsin right on the Mississippi River, the backwaters of the Mississippi River offer fantastic opportunities as well. The best ice fishing will invariably be on the backwaters with little to no current. And you’ll always find an abundance of panfish, as well as walleye, bass, and northern pike. Nearby lakes, some manmade or fed by other rivers, are great ice fishing spots as well.
Great Spots to Try Ice Fishing in Wisconsin:
Mississippi River Pool 8, in Genoa
De Soto Bay in Vernon County
Goose Island County Park, near La Crosse
French Island, along the Mississippi River near La Crosse
Jersey Valley Lake in Vernon County
Guided Fishing Trips
If you don’t feel quite ready to tackle ice fishing on your own, consider taking a guided trip or an ice fishing charter. They will know all the best spots, and might even have access to private lands. But any bait shop you decide to visit should have good info on where the fish are biting.
Driftless Angler Fly Shop in Viroqua (closest to Westby)
Clement’s Fishing Barge in Genoa, WI
Captain John Bomkamp’s guide service in Muscoda, WI, about an hour from Westby
Helpful Links for Ice Fishing in Wisconsin
The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources has several sites to help you plan your ice fishing trip. This site has helpful tips on specific fish, staying safe, and ice fishing with kids. For practical information, like what to wear and what tools to have, read this page.
Note: the Mississippi River is a continuous open season for those type of fish. And consider coming on free ice fishing weekend, always the third Saturday and Sunday in January. No permit required!
Warm Up at Westby House Inn
After a few hours or a full day on the ice, come on home to warm up at the Westby House Inn & Restaurant. Our luxurious rooms and suites have been designed with your comfort in mind. And how about a long soak in a double whirlpool tub to get the chill out of your bones? Or perhaps a hot drink by the fireplace? The Victorianne and Atrium rooms have just what you’re looking for. And you wouldn’t want to hit the ice without a good breakfast! Our full gourmet breakfast is sure to hit the spot. If you’re traveling with others who aren’t interested in fishing, there’s plenty to do right here in Westby! Download our complimentary Vacation Guide for all the info you need to help you plan your best Wisconsin vacation ever. See you out on the ice!