Wild Things: New Fishing Licenses Now on Sale

Current licenses expire April 1; new ones are valid immediately

by KEVIN NAZE, [email protected], Peninsula Pulse contributor

Wisconsin’s 2023-24 fishing licenses went on sale this week. They’re good for the remainder of this month, as well as for the license year of April 1, 2023 – March 31, 2024.

First-time buyers – and those who haven’t purchased a license in at least a decade – can get one for the bargain price of $5. If you want to fish for Great Lakes salmon and trout or inland trout, you’ll need to buy stamp privileges, which are used to fund stocking and other fisheries needs. 

Residents and nonresidents aged 16 and older are required to purchase a license in order to fish. 

To browse a list of frequently asked questions about Wisconsin fishing, check out Regulations pamphlets are available wherever licenses are sold, or review the content through a link at

Fishing Rule Changes 

Sunday, March 5, is the last day to fish in smaller Green Bay tributaries and ditches before they’re off limits to give northern pike, walleyes and other species a chance to spawn. They’ll remain closed through the end of April.

Starting March 6, the bay walleye limit drops to one fish larger than 15 inches. That same day, the Fox River’s trophy fishery changes to a daily bag of one walleye of a 28-inch minimum size.

March 15 is the last day to keep yellow perch on Green Bay until late May. The two-month closure has been in place for more than a decade.

Even with iffy ice conditions, some anglers are still trying for pike, walleye, whitefish and perch in bays and harbors and, if conditions allow, off creek mouths. 

Sunday, March 5, is the deadline to remove permanent ice shelters on inland waters south of Highway 64; March 19 is the deadline on Green Bay. Portable shanties may still be used after, as long as they’re removed from the ice when not actively in use, and at the end of each day.

Many anglers are already fishing open water. The Fox River is popular for walleyes, and the piers, harbors and nearshore shallows of Lake Michigan are solid early bets for trout.

Sturgeon Harvest

Less-than-ideal ice and weather conditions during the Lake Winnebago sturgeon-spearing season reduced pressure, but many of those who found good ice also found success.

Larry Bonde of Kiel has taken five or six sturgeon in just 12 years. This year’s was a 62-incher that weighed 54 pounds. He and his wife love the meat. They remove the skin, all the orange fat and the bloodline area (dark-red meat) so that the only flesh they use is white. 

“We season it with lemon pepper and dill leaves or dill weed, and sear it in a quality lemon or dill olive oil,” Bonde said. “Once it is seared, we cover the fillet about 1/3 to 1/2 with milk, put sliced lemons on the fillet, cover it and simmer until the meat is tender. Others in our group also deep-fry it or smoke it, which also can be very good.”

There were 1,120 sturgeon speared on Winnebago and 285 on the upriver lakes. The season total of 1,405 fish included 155 juvenile females, 599 adult females and 651 males.

Opening weekend found only about 3,000 ice shanties – roughly half of what is typical. The top registration area this year was the southeast corner. 

A total of 46 sturgeon over 100 pounds were taken, 37 of them from Winnebago and nine from the upriver lakes. The heaviest this year was a 79.9-incher that weighed 177.3 pounds.

Great Backyard Bird Count Results

The 2023 Great Backyard Bird Count, held Feb. 17-20, produced some amazing numbers. A preliminary total found 7,508 species observed and more than 320,000 checklists submitted from 253 subregions around the world.

Three countries – Colombia, Ecuador and India – produced more than 1,000 species. The United States was 10th, with 665 species, but easily No. 1 in checklists, with more than 192,000 submitted. 

Wisconsin birders submitted more than 4,700 checklists and reported 134 species. Door County’s 70 checklists included 47 species. Kewaunee County had 41 species on 27 checklists. Dane, Milwaukee and Waukesha counties reported the most species: 93, 76 and 69, respectively.

Dig deeper into the data by county, state or subregion – and see some terrific photography – by clicking on the links at

Boone and Crockett Club’s Records Book

The Boone and Crockett (B&C) Club’s 31st Big Game Awards book, featuring more than 3,700 B&C trophies accepted 2019-21, is now available. Of the 2,000 copies printed, fewer than 500 remained as of Tuesday. 

The 560-page book features nearly 200 field photos and the stories and portrait photographs of the 70 award-winning trophies that were on display during the 31st Big Game Awards exhibit.

Check for book availability at or call 888.840.4868.

Weekly Water Levels

Great Lakes water levels are four inches above the 100-year average but have been going down fast since the record high set in 2020. Over the past three years, the Lake Michigan and Green Bay water levels are down 33 inches, including five during the past year. As of Feb. 24, lake levels were still 32 inches above the all-time February low, set in 1964.