An easy drive north from the Packers’ headquarters in Green Bay, Shawano Lake is one of north-central Wisconsin’s most beloved recreational sites–and one of its most venerable fishing holes. And that certainly applies to the winter season, when ice fishermen congregate on the expansive surface and dream of hauling in a monster northern or muskie (or “just” a lovely panfish).
Shawano Lake is fed by Loon, Duchess, and several other creeks flowing in from the marshy basins to the north and east and from the uplands to the south; its major outlet, meanwhile, drains through the town of Shawano into the great Wolf River. The lake sprawls across some 6,215 acres. Its mean depth is nine feet, but at its deepest, in the east-central portion, it plunges nearly to 40 feet. The bottom substrate is dominated by sand with a smaller proportion of muck.
Given its productive, weedy depths, Shawano Lake draws anglers year-round. There are healthy populations of some of Wisconsin’s most sought-after game fish, including northern pike, walleye, largemouth bass, smallmouth bass, and panfish such as bluegill, yellow perch, pumpkinseed, and crappie. Muskies are regularly stocked, meaning you’ve got the chance to try your luck casting for this legendary (and elusive) predator. That said, pike and panfish are the foundation of the lake’s ice-fishing pursuits.
Besides the productive ice fisheries, Shawano Lake’s also an attractive angling destination given the plethora of fishing guides, vacation rentals, tackle shops, eateries, and general services that border it. The combination of accessibility, development, and fish stock make it one of the best ice-fishing lakes in the region–and in the Badger State as a whole. And the wintertime fun on Shawano Lake isn’t even limited to dropping hooks and swapping tall tales in the shanties: The glazed-over surface’s also a time-honored spot for ice racing.
Ice fishing on Shawano Lake is often safe by late December or early January, but obviously freeze-up varies from year to year depending on the weather. Be sure to check local conditions before planning your ice-fishing expedition and always put safety first.
As you’re casting for Shawano pike and bluegills on a deliciously crisp winter’s afternoon, you’re likely to start scheming up return visits on the other end of the calendar. The town of Shawano offers a conveniently located local dealer for tracking down a top-quality Wisconsin boat that’ll have you prowling the summertime weed flats with the best of them.
If you’re an angler looking to sample Wisconsin’s nearly unbeatable ice-fishing opportunities, you can’t go wrong with Shawano Lake. Beeline to this fish-filled waterway and find out what all the fuss is about!