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Free Boat Launches

5/18/21 @ 2:54 PM
USER SINCE 10/25/16

Hello everyone,

Are there any free boat launches in Southeastern Wisconsin? For example, I hear that the launch on Okauchee Lake is free, but it fills up quickly. Just wondering. If not, what are some of the less expensive ones?


9/10/21 @ 6:49 PM
Goby-Wan Kenobi
USER SINCE 7/12/16

Boat launch 1

9/3/21 @ 8:34 PM

I get a kick out of big Cedar lake. Dumpsters for trash and lake residents use it for their own trash while we pay for that use through launch fee's.

9/3/21 @ 5:08 PM
USER SINCE 5/29/11

My complaint is the launch fee is supposed to go for maintaining and improving the launch area. That is the way the state law reads! The $$$$ is not to fix the city park, buy new playground equipment, remodel the city ball diamonds, the general fund in the budget, etc.

 There is absolutely no enforcement of that law. That is another DNR item that is not getting handled. Why not?????

8/13/21 @ 4:35 PM
USER SINCE 1/17/07

I understand that public boat launches have to be maintained and if they are I have no problem paying a reasonable fee. But when you have a launch (I'm using that word grudgingly) that is a concrete slab tilting downward into a few inches of water, with no pier, a 1/4 mile walk from the trailer area and Port-a-Potty, and you still have to pay $7.00, then I think that's obscene. Especially when the city of Muskego built a 9 hole frisbee golf course on the road down to the launch and there's no charge to park in the same lot as the trailers. I assume most people that play that frisbee golf course drive there. 

8/12/21 @ 11:46 PM
USER SINCE 12/7/05

I have no problem paying a nominal launch fee to launch and load my boat at a nice, well-maintained ramp that has a restroom (or at least a porta jon for emergencies) and a trash receptacle. I only have two beefs with launch fees in general:

1) If the launch fee is EXCESSIVE simply based on location (ie Lake Geneva, Delavan, etc.) I'm sorry, unless the ramp is paved with gold bricks and they are washing your boat after you load up, there is ZERO reason to be charging $15, $20, $25+ to launch a boat just because those that live on the lake are wealthy. You want to get money from them, tax their million dollar lakefront mansion, not the two times a year they launch their ski boat that they don't know how to drive. The one and only time I ever paid to launch at Delavan (circa 2004), I paid $15, waited in line to launch for over 45 minutes and then had to park in a muddy field out by the road...never again! With what they are charging to launch there, there is NO EXCUSE for that field to not be a paved parking lot. Looking at the properties on the lake, I can only imagine what the property tax revenue is like - they clearly don't need to be taking advantage of a high school kid like me that just wanted to take his grandfather fishing for a few hours.


2) If the launch fee is CLEARLY not being used to maintain the launch and/or facilities present. For example, charging $5-10 launch fee when the ramp is washed out or in disrepair, litter is all over the ground and/or in the water, restrooms don't have soap/TP, etc. My county has an annual county park sticker that is $25 and allows entrance to 5 county parks and beaches and 8 or 9 boat launches. The ramps are all nice and there are trash and recycling cans, restrooms or porta johns and nice parking lots with plenty of space away from the launch to load/unload your boat, strap it down, etc. 

I am not naïve...I realize maintenance and improvements cost money. If you are going to charge me to launch there, all I ask is that you show the money is at least going to maintain or improve the launch and at a minimum have a trash can or two. 

8/12/21 @ 2:14 PM

You can bet that those handicap docks were designed by an engineer that is a non boater. 

8/12/21 @ 2:02 PM
USER SINCE 4/20/07

Hey Fish,  That is the one thing that gets to me down here in Central Illinois, every launch is handicap accessible with those high railings.  I launch alone and I am hadicaped, but I hate those railings.  They should put the railings only on one side opposite the ramp.

It is ironic as I am currently going through physical therapy, and I plan on taking my boat out for the first time in 2 years next week.  My PT asked what are my concerns.  I said getting into and out of the boat because this so called handicapped pier has no posts to hold on to while getting into a boat.  So get this, I have to practice getting down into the floor and then getting up again without grabbing onto anything. This way I will be confident doing this on a dock.

Who ever designed these so called handicapped piers just totally missed the boat on assisting people getting into boats!


8/12/21 @ 9:13 AM

I pay 40 bucks for a Dane County "lake access," which includes all of the City of Madison launches and use of the lake's access in the winter time as well (yes, one of the spots is only a parking lot where, in the winter time you walk through a marsh to get to the lake).  They plow the lots and have either a restroom or porta potty open all the time. A couple of the launches have fish cleaning facilities, which is nice for some (I just take mine home all of the time and I bury my fish guts in my garden).  They take pretty good care of the launches too.  One thing I have been disliking recently is adding ADA accessible piers.  One would be nice, but not all of them.  It makes launching by yourself more difficult because of the railings being so high.  But overall I am very happy with the launches and the fees for a year-round pass.

8/12/21 @ 7:37 AM
USER SINCE 4/20/07

When I lived in the Northwest Chicago suburbs, I fished Delavan or Geneva every weekend.  When I bought my new boat I brought it to Geneva to break it in and stopped at the Abby just to ask how much to launch.  In 2007 it was $40.00!!, I told them they were nuts and paid $10.00 or so to launch at the public launch almost right next to the Abby.

As I began fishing Delavan I bought an annual launch tag for about $107.00 per season for about 8 years.  I think it was well worth it because I went there 35 to 40 times a season which works out to less than $3.00 per launch. 

8/12/21 @ 4:57 AM
USER SINCE 8/12/21

cool! I did not know that it is free on the Okauchee Lake

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