Contact(s): Joanna Griffin, 608-264-8953
MADISON - Wisconsin's early catch and release trout season opens Jan. 6 on hundreds of waters statewide and provides another fishing opportunity to help anglers beat cabin fever.
"The long season offers anglers a great opportunity to try the early trout season if you haven't before," says Joanna Griffin, Department of Natural Resources trout team coordinator.
The season is open on all classified trout streams in 46 counties and there is at least one stream open in 18 other counties. All streams in Brown, Calumet, Door, Kewanee, Manitowoc, Menominee, Outagamie and Winnebago counties are closed.
The season opens at 5 a.m. on January 6 and runs until midnight May 4. All anglers are not required to use barbless hooks but artificial lures and flies are still required. All fish caught must be immediately released; the bag limit is zero.
Anglers who fish the early catch and release season need an inland trout stamp as well as a valid Wisconsin fishing license. The 2017-2018 fishing license and stamp are good through March 31. Anglers fishing after March 31 will need to buy a 2018-2019 license to fish the early season in April and May.
Wisconsin has more than 13,000 miles of trout streams, including more than 5,300 miles of Class 1 trout streams in Wisconsin. These high quality trout waters have sufficient natural reproduction to sustain populations of wild trout and require no stocking. Another 40 percent of the waters are Class 2 waters that may have some natural reproduction by require stocking to maintain a desirable sport fishery.
New online maps and interactive maps make all of the trout waters easier to find and provide other information to increase anglers' success, Griffin says. To find the maps, search the DNR website for keyword "trout."
Anglers fishing the early trout season should take many of the same kind of precautions that ice anglers do, including knowing local conditions, fishing with another person, and carrying a cell phone. Find more winter fishing safety tips on ice safety page of the DNR website.