WOODRUFF - More than 2 million anglers spend $1.5 billion in Wisconsin annually on fishing, and the early season anglers who venture out on opening day, May 4, 2019, of the regular inland season stand a good chance of enjoying fast action and big fish.
Windy, warmer weather over coming days is expected to open up the remaining frozen lakes in northern Wisconsin, while waters in the southern two-thirds of the state are already open and some major rivers are experiencing flooding.
"Not having a crystal ball it's hard to say exactly what we'll find opening day, but I'm thinking most ice will be off the lakes several days prior to the opener," says Mike Vogelsang, Department of Natural Resources fisheries supervisor for northern Wisconsin.
"Usually when you have these late ice outs it's a good thing for anglers. More walleye are up in the shallows and ready to eat," he says. "We'll hope for cloudy weather with a little bit of a chop to start the season off with a bang for anglers."
Walleye spawning should take only three to five days on many lakes due to the late ice-out, though once the spawn is over fish will be hungry and linger close to the shore where they are more easily targeted by anglers.
Walleye are anglers' number one target, according to surveys, and Wisconsin has hundreds of waters with naturally self-sustaining populations. In addition, more walleye fishing opportunities will be available this year as more than 1.926 million extended growth walleye stocked in 2013, 2014 and 2015 under the Wisconsin Walleye Initiative are now at catchable size.
Anglers interested in pursuing other species will find good prospects as well; read the 2019 Wisconsin Fishing Report for fishing forecasts by species for specific waters across the state. Such forecasts often include recent survey results about the population size and structure, and other notes to help anglers find the fishing experience they want.
Trout anglers may also want to check the list of hundreds of waters where DNR crews have been stocking catchable size trout. About 600,000 rainbow, brown, brook and lake trout are planned for stocking. These fish were raised at hatcheries in Fitchburg, Osceola, and St. Croix Falls. To find the locations, species and numbers of trout stocked this spring, search the DNR website for " catchable trout ."