While longtime DNR fisheries biologist Brian Brecka takes pride in being a multispecies angler, he typically finds time to catch a bass or two on each of his angling outings.
“Wisconsin boasts largemouth and smallmouth bass fisheries that are passionately supported by droves of today’s anglers,” says Brecka.
A recent Wisconsin angler diary study found bass fishing to be similar in popularity compared to walleye fishing during the spring and summer months. The study found only panfishing, the pursuit of bluegill, crappie and perch, to be more popular during the May-September period.
“There’s good reason for the popularity of largemouth and smallmouth bass,” Brecka says. Bucketmouths and smallies together are the most widely distributed recreational fish in the state – found within inland lakes, cool and warmwater streams, large rivers, and the Great Lakes.
“No matter where you live in Wisconsin, you’re within a short drive of quality bass fishing,” he says. “While many of our higher quality bass fisheries are smaller in size and don’t reach national notoriety, waterbodies such as Sturgeon Bay and the Mississippi River are consistently highly ranked as top bass fisheries in the nation.”
One more reason bass are boss are their accessibility from the shore.
“If you’re thinking you can’t fish bass without a fancy boat and a dozen rods, think again,” he says. “They can be caught from shore, by wading, by canoe or kayak, or from a float tube or your grandfather’s 14-foot flat bottom boat.”
No matter how you plan to fish, Brecka shares his bass fishing basics [PDF], updated from a 2002 Wisconsin Natural Resources magazine article he wrote with Ken Snow.
He encourages anglers to learning more about bass life history, behavior, seasonal movements and fishing patterns to increase their chances of success. “But book learning cannot replace the benefits of spending time on the water “reading” the situation, adapting to changing conditions, getting in tune with your quarry and enjoying some time outdoors,” he says.