Top 10 Crappie Fishing Spots in Wisconsin

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Wisconsin has all the fish. It might not be fair to other states, but they have some outstanding crappie fishing to go along with epic walleye, pike, and muskie fishing.

Spring is incredible.

During the weeks following the ice melt, crappies transition to warmer, shallow regions in search of early weed growth and food. They gradually shift from a winter behavior to a spawning pattern. Keep employing the techniques that worked during late ice, such as jigs with wax worms or small minnows.

But crappie also can be caught all year long. They’ll bite on a warm summer night, can be aggressive as the fall chill sets in and will come to your bait or lure under the ice.

For much of the year, you’ll do well to target them during nighttime, at first light, or last light.

While each body of water has unique features, a deliberate approach in the warmest waters generally proves effective in catching crappies.

Wisconsin’s Best Crappie Fishing

Lake Onalaska

Lake Onalaska is called the “Crappie Capital of Wisconsin.” Several spots will give you an epic day on the water on this Mississippi impoundment on the state’s western border.

Locals know that the best spot lies just downstream from where the Black River empties below a dam, between the airport and the city of Onalaska.

You can reach this area by following the train tracks and fishing along the east bank or from Fisherman’s Road on the airport side. If you prefer a boat, seek out the weed beds and use a float equipped with a minnow. There’s a launch downstream.

The other side of French Island can also be excellent as crappie move into the sloughs and lakes. There’s a launch on Spillway Drive.

The northern part of Lake Onalaska also has some superb crappie water.

For example, to the west of Brice Prairie, near the Black Deer area where the remains of the Red Sails Resort are, a channel on the lake’s north side awaits. This spot is excellent for targeting crappies and bluegills during late ice and ice-out periods.

Begin by fishing the channel between the dike and the main lake, where the depth ranges from 2 to 6 feet.

The conditions may vary slightly, influenced by the gate openings, and the depth levels can affect the fishing experience. Nonetheless, locating this channel should pose little challenge.

Cast white/pink or blue/black marabou jigs tipped with fathead minnows or with a wax worm.

You’re likely to get a mixed bag of panfish here because Lake Onalaska also is excellent for bluegill and yellow perch fishing.

Onalaska and La Crosse have all the food and lodging you need. Bait shops will get you the latest info on where the crappie are biting.

Namekagon Lake

Lake Namekagon is best fished in the spring. You’ll find tons of aggressive, hungry crappie preparing for the spawn.

Hit areas in 5 to 8 feet of water until you locate a school. Crappie tend to school by size, so once you’re on a school of slabs, you should consistently catch 12-to-14-inch fish.

On the lake’s northern end, structures known as cribs often attract fish in the early part of the season.

During the run-up to spawning, crappies hold in slightly deeper waters. We’re talking 8 feet instead of 5. Try not to harvest any females at this time, as they will create the next generation in a few weeks.

Use bright colors like jigs in orange and chartreuse tipped with wax worms or fathead minnows.

Namekagon is one of Wisconsin’s top multi-species lake and also offers excellent angling for walleye and pike, among other gamefish.

Namekagon Lake’s shoreline is dotted with resorts, cabins, and fishing lodges, catering to the needs of anglers. Many of these businesses provide boat rentals, fishing guides, and valuable local knowledge to help get you on the fish at this northwestern Wisconsin hotspot.

Lake Owen

Just west of Namekagon Lake, Lake Owen has crystal-clear water and giant crappies. They aren’t the easiest to find, but once you’re on a school, don’t be surprised to net a 15-to-17-inch fish. Use super light lines so you don’t spook them.

Target crappies in 20 to 35 feet of water near rockpiles. Tip your jig with fathead minnows. Hit the lake early in the morning or evening for the best action.

The lake has two public boat launches, though most use the launch at the north end to start fishing in that area.

Two Lakes Campground on the north end has camping, while resorts that cater to anglers are all through the area.

Turtle-Flambeau Flowage

Crappies in the Flambeau Flowage tend to congregate above the dam on the west side, specifically in the deeper holes ranging from 12 to 15 feet.

Successful fishing on the Flambeau is contingent on the water level, as the fish tend to concentrate in holes. Utilizing your locator, you’ll need to explore to pinpoint their exact location, but once located, you can expect a productive outing.

For the best chances, aim to place your bait directly within the school of fish or slightly above it. Use a slip-bobber technique and a jig tipped with a wax worm or minnow to maintain a consistent depth.

The Flambeau is suitable for fishing at various times. This body of water has a slight stain, allowing for midday fishing, particularly when there is cloud cover.

The Flowage is also thick with smallmouths, so expect some bronze-colored bass to strike those crappie lures at times.

Resorts and lodges catering to anglers are spread around this northern Wisconsin area. Stop by the Sunken Horse Saloon and see if you can get the story of the name.

Shawano Lake

Shawano Lake’s crystal-clear waters host crappies averaging 10 to 12 inches in size. The lake is 45 minutes from Green Bay, making it accessible.

Head out to reed beds along the shoreline early in the morning or after sunset. Try using a lighted bobber and fishing in 3 to 5 feet of water. Use jigs tipped with a fathead minnow or wax worm on a 4- to 6-pound test line.

According to a local guide, a little creek connects Shawano Lake to much smaller Washington Lake on the north end. Crappies congregate in this narrow waterway in the early spring due to the shallow, warmer water and abundance of food.

Fish the creek or head out into the lake from a boat you can put in at Washington Lake Boat Launch at the end of Stark Road.

There are plenty of campgrounds and hotels in the area. Shawano has all the gear you might need for your trip.

White Clay Lake

White Clay Lake is a few miles east of Shawano Lake. It’s perfect for crappie fishing.

The water is crystal clear, and the shoreline is covered in cattails. Reed beds dominate the north end of this smaller lake.

The reeds hold good numbers of crappies when the water starts to warm. They head up from the drop-off during the early morning and head back when it’s a bit too warm, returning at night to feed.

Search the drop-off areas with your electronics to find schools during the day. You shouldn’t have a problem finding them.

White Clay Lodge is located right on the lake and caters to anglers. There’s a nearby boat launch as well.

The surrounding towns have most of what you’ll need for your trip. Head to Shawano for more hotels and dining options.

Roberts Lake

Roberts Lake stands out as a prime destination, offering a picturesque setting and epic crappie fishing. This hidden gem in rural Forest County offers the chance to reel in big crappies.

Launch at the free ramp at the Wild Rose Restaurant & Bar off County Highway W. Just offshore, there are reed beds and a steep drop-off. Target the edge of the reeds at night and then head into deeper water during the day.

Crappies tend to stick in 8 to 12 feet of water during the day, so use your finder and locate the schools just off the reeds.

The lake’s diverse underwater landscape, featuring submerged logs and well-defined channels, makes for a prime crappie habitat.

The eastern shore is also super popular. There are cribs located in about 18 feet of water that attract schools year-round. Brush piles along the edge of the reeds will get you on the fish.

Resch’s Happy Hollow Resort caters to anglers and is very affordable for your trip. The area has a few other options, and camping is available nearby.

Wolf River

The Wolf River is primarily known for walleye, as well as trout in the upper river, but if you head into the backwaters, particularly around New London, you’ll find plenty of 12- to 14-inch crappies waiting to be caught.

The area around the Wolf River State Fishery, just northwest of New London, is an excellent place to cast your line.

The river is loaded with fingers and bays that have excellent brush cover for crappies. Watch your retrieve, or you’ll be spending the entire day fixing snags.

Toss a slip bobber into 2 to 5 feet of water and use a fathead minnow. You should be on the fish in no time.

New London has all the amenities you’ll need, and there’s plenty of camping in the area.

Geneva Lake

Lake Geneva is a crystal-clear lake in the spring. It’s home to monster crappie just waiting for your bait. A local guide reported catching multiple 18-inchers and a 20-inch crappie here.

Target structure throughout the lake. Along the boat docks and the cribs in shallower water will get you on them. Look for them in 8 to 12 feet of water.

Once you find a school, toss a jig with a fathead minnow for the best results. Weed edges, humps, and points are prime targets. Nighttime and low-light conditions are the prime times for crappies here.

Geneva Lake also can be a very good ice-fishing lake, both for panfish like crappie as well as brutish pike and walleye.

Lake Geneva has all the amenities you’ll need, and there is plenty of lodging and camping in the wider area. Delavan Lake is also right next door, and next on our list.

Delavan Lake

Delevan is just west of Geneva Lake. It has shallower water that warms up quicker in the spring. Crappie fishing can be excellent here even while Geneva Lake is still too cold.

Docks, points, humps, and weed edges, are good places to start. The narrower channels warm earlier than the main lake and can lead to epic action, but since most of the land along them is private, you’ll need a boat to fish up into those fingers of water.

Jigs tipped with minnows is the go-to bait here. Cast into or above the school and let the jig fall through them.

Delavan has all the niceties you’ll need, and a resort on the water caters to anglers.

Catch More Crappie

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