What Fish Is That? Types of Game Fish in Wisconsin (Part 1)

Whether you’re on the water every day or a fishing newbie, check out our guide below to get to know common fish in Wisconsin waters.  


If you’re fishing in the warm, quiet waters of Wisconsin and the fish has a black spot on its “earflaps,” you most likely caught a bluegill. These fish are the most common sunfish in the state and can be found hiding in a cover of weed beds or in small schools with other sunfish.  


These yellow-sided fish with prominent vertical lines are hard to miss! Yellow perch prefer the cool, open waters of Wisconsin’s deepest lakes and are most active during the day. You can catch a yellow perch on almost any bait but set your hook quickly because they’re known to nibble lightly.  


Clear, open water is a black crappie hotspot (their second favorite place is resting among logs or weed beds during the day)! These strong and speckled fish have seven to eight spines on their dorsal fin. If you’re casting in cooler, deeper water with a minnow or small jig, the crappies will bite!  


Rock bass are named after their favorite habitat: rocky-bottom lakes and rivers. Known as “goggle-eyes” in some states, these bronze-colored panfish have large eyes and five to seven spines on their anal fins. Whether you’re using worms, minnows or poppers, you can catch rock bass on almost any kind of hook because they aren’t picky eaters.  


Found in large schools, white bass have silvery bodies marked with thin, black stripes. These fish are also commonly referred to as “stripers” and are found in the open waters of lakes and rivers where they come to spawn each spring. Want to catch one? Try using minnows or bucktail spinners in the spring while they are in a feeding frenzy.  


With two barbels on the sides of their mouths, common carp are hard to miss! Native to Asia and introduced to Wisconsin from Europe, these fish have adapted well to most of Wisconsin’s waters and are now considered invasive. Common carp can survive with little oxygen and muddy the water as they pull up and feed on plant roots. 

There are so many types of fish in our lakes, ponds and rivers, so determining the type of fish you caught can be tricky. If you’re still undecided on your catch, stay tuned for Types of Game Fish in Wisconsin (Part 2) for another list of common fish found in Wisconsin waters.