Fly fishing on the Tomorrow River. (Courtesy UWSP)

Report: DNR stocked over six million fish across Wisconsin in ’23

By Patrick Lynn

The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR) this week released the 2023 fish stocking numbers for inland waterbodies and the Great Lakes, showcasing the agency’s efforts to enhance fisheries and support recreational fishing opportunities across the state.

Each year, the DNR raises millions of yearling and fingerling fish to stock into Wisconsin waters. In 2023, over six million fish were stocked, fulfilling the quotas submitted by county fisheries biologists.

Stocking plays a crucial role in boosting natural fish populations where natural reproduction is insufficient, maintaining or restoring existing fisheries, and supporting recreational fishing. It also serves to evaluate management actions or fish culture techniques.

Throughout 2023, DNR fish crews have stocked fish in inland waters, Lake Michigan, Lake Superior, and their tributaries. The stocking efforts have been extensive, with significant numbers of various fish species being released into the waters.

In inland waters, the DNR stocked 204,467 brook trout, 324,422 brown trout, 90,565 lake trout, 80 largemouth bass, 35,786 muskellunge, 108,969 northern pike, 251,508 rainbow trout, and 1,964,192 walleye.

For Lake Michigan, the stocking numbers included 49,998 brook trout, 455,253 brown trout, 1,386,492 Chinook salmon, 500,189 coho salmon, 591 lake sturgeon, 7,681 muskellunge, and 522,852 rainbow trout.

In Lake Superior, the DNR stocked 174,906 brown trout, 73,251 lake trout, 40,816 splake, and 100,000 walleye.

In Portage Co., more than 30,000 fish were stocked in area waterbodies, including Lake Helen, Sunset Lake, the Little Plover and Wisconsin Rivers, and Thomas Lake.

It’s important to note that this data does not include the stocking of newly hatched fry, fish stocked by private fish farms under a stocking permit, fish stocked by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, or fish stocked by tribal partners, the DNR said in its news release.

Anglers and conservationists interested in learning more about fish stocking efforts can visit the DNR’s Fish Stocking database to view stocking data from previous years or specific waters, gaining insights into the ongoing efforts to maintain and enhance Wisconsin’s fisheries.