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Ice fishing for Northern Pike

10/20/20 @ 10:36 PM
User since 12/26/18

As the weather gets cold, I've been looking forward to ice fishing, and one of my favorite ways to eat fish - pickled pike

The only problem is that I live in Madison, and catching small pike for pickling is limited by the Wisconsin "southern zone" rules (Only two northern pike may be kept and they must be at least 26"), and the rules on my home lake - Mendota - are even more restrictive (one pike over 40" may be kept). 

The "northern zone" rules make catching and keeping small-medium pike for pickling much more realistic (Five northern pike of any length may be kept). 

So my question is, are there any lakes in Southern WI with good enough pike fishing that would be worth my time to try to get some legal pike, or would I be better off driving north? 

If I do go north, the lakes in the Northern Zone (North of highway 10) that would be the shortest drive from Madison are Lake Dubay, Big Eau Pleine Reservoir, Mosinee Flowage, or Lake Wausau. Are any of these worth the drive for some pike fishing through the ice? 


10/26/20 @ 9:21 AM
Phat Walleyes
Phat Walleyes
User since 3/31/15

Always liked Shawano, never fished it and always regretted it...  I bet it's a sleeper for many different fish... 

Maybe move there to live out my life and learn the lake well, truly what a commitment... A boathouse would be cool... Just live above it and fish year round... Would have to get a stair lift and a lift to get me in and out of the boat too... Bat this n that!

10/26/20 @ 8:52 AM
User since 4/10/18

Shawano Lake in Shawano. It's about a half hour to 45 minutes further from you than some of the lakes you had listed. If you can't catch a limit of small pike there, you won't do it anywhere. 16"- 22" pike  most common and flags fly every 15 to 30 minutes. Can't keep them off your shiners in shallow weeds.

10/26/20 @ 7:59 AM
MEMBER since 6/22/01

Bobojay I used to fish Brown's a lot when I was dating a girl from Burlington.  Glad they changed that lake to a no size limit.  There are so many snakes in that lake, they'll never go away!  20 plus years ago I emailed the DNR about that lake and at the time they said they were aware of it, but weren't going to change the regulations to be lake-specific.  Glad they're changing their mind on some lakes.

10/25/20 @ 4:19 PM
User since 1/24/15

Brown's Lake in Racine county. No min size and 5 a day.

10/25/20 @ 8:55 AM
User since 9/19/10

Kettle Moraine Lake, also called Round Lake, just NE of Campbellsport, in Fon du lac Co. Full of pike (mostly small), 5 per day, no size limit

10/22/20 @ 4:37 PM
User since 5/17/11

Lake Dubay - low density pike 

Big Eau Pleine - low density pike / 32" size limit

Lake Wausau & Mosinee Flowage - highly inconsistent

Pick a lake north of highway 8, find a 10ft weed edge and catch yourself a bunch of pike.

10/22/20 @ 12:36 PM
User since 12/14/14

Problem with Geneva is it takes a long time to freeze over, nice fat clean fish though. I would hit Onalaska.

10/21/20 @ 11:32 PM
User since 12/26/18

Thanks for the feedback everyone

I'll probably take a few trips up north this winter, but some of the lakes you all brought up (Mirror Lake and Lake Geneva) are less than a 90min drive and may be worth a try. Luckily I have a few weekdays off each week and I can go on quieter days. 

I looked into the regulations on Mirror lake, and its "No minimum length, but northern pike from 25" to 35" may not be kept.The daily bag limit is 5"

Lake Geneva's regulations say "No minimum length limit and the daily bag limit is 5"

10/21/20 @ 6:50 PM
Miltown Steelhead
User since 3/24/12

I live in Milwaukee and fish most of the major and smaller lakes in SE Wisconsin all winter long. Pike of legal length are plenty, the trick is knowing which lakes and how (typical, right).

I think if you pick a lake with a decent population such as Pewaukee, Okauchee, Pike, and really dial in on the pike you won't have an issue feeding the pickle jars.

Pike are easy to catch in general, but catching pike that are mature (consistently) is a different game and is different in every lake down here. I can go to Pewaukee and use a medium shiner in 5ft of water where the weeds meet the sand and nail legal length Pike from 1pm-dark most weeks. Okauchee, I won't see results using those tactics. Okauchee Pike (for me) like bigger baits and deeper weed lines. 10-12ft on a steep drop.  

10/21/20 @ 5:26 PM
User since 8/12/05

Yeah honestly I think your best bet is to do some weekend fishing in the northern zone. Aim for lakes in the two to four hundred acre range with weedy bays and pike marked as "common" or "abundant" on their dnr sheet!

If you are in Madison,  you can be to some great lakes in two to four Friday night, Saturday and still be home by noon on Sunday...or, fish Sunday and then head home!

Some local options:

Okauchee Lake and Upper Oconomowoc Lake in Waukesha county have a special regulation where two pike can be kept, but between 24" and 35" must be released, so that could get ya some Picklers.

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