best boating lakes in wisconsin

Best Boating Lakes in Wisconsin: The Top 5 Destinations

To be frank, the phrase “best boating lakes in Wisconsin” is not something you would expect to hear or read, but we are here to let you in on a very interesting secret. Beyond the hunting, dairy, lumber production, and breweries, the state of Wisconsin actually has a handful of beautiful lakes and destinations.

If you would like to take a deeper look into the most popular lake destinations in Wisconsin, then this guide should come in handy. Read on to find out more!

Our Most Recommended Boating Lakes and Destinations in Wisconsin

1. Lake Winnebago

lake winnebago

Lake Winnebago is a freshwater lake that is relatively shallow and is primarily situated in the eastern parts of central Wisconsin. The lake’s tributaries are Fox River and Wolf River and empties into Green Bay as a function of the Fox-Wisconsin Waterway project.

According to historical accounts, Lake Winnebago’s origins can be traced back to the Glacial Lake Oshkosh which was in existence a little over 10,000 years ago. Therefore, this body of water is naturally occurring (although there is a significant increase in volume and elevation as a result of dam projects built on both sides of this lake).

With an estimated surface area of 132,000 acres, an average depth of around 15 feet, and a maximum depth of roughly 20 feet, this lake is one of the most popular shallow bodies of water in North America.

There are a lot of annual events and festivities held in Lake Winnebago, but if you are looking to find out what can be done practically all-year-round, then check out the list below:

  • Camping
  • Boating
  • Fishing
  • State Park visits
  • Scenic tours
  • Museum tours
  • Swimming

There is an abundance of aquatic species found in this lake, including the following:

  • Panfish
  • Walleye
  • Lake sturgeon
  • Catfish
  • Smallmouth bass
  • Musky
  • Largemouth bass
  • Northern pike

2. Lake Michigan

lake michigan wisconsin

Lake Michigan is one of the five Laurentian Great Lakes of the United States. Considered to be the third-largest lake in terms of surface area and the second-largest lake in terms of volume, this sprawling body of water is one of the biggest attractions in Wisconsin and is also shared by the likes of Illinois, Indiana, and Michigan.

Unlike the other great lakes, Lake Michigan is the only lake to be exclusively within the jurisdiction of states in North America (as opposed to others that extend deep into Canadian territory).

Partially found within the boundary of Milwaukee, Lake Michigan has a reported surface area of approximately 22,400 square miles, an average depth of around 280 feet, and a maximum depth of a little over 920 feet.

As a massive tourist destination, there are a lot of activities that can be done here, including the following:

  • Beach trips
  • Ferry travel
  • Island hopping
  • Park visits
  • Boating
  • Fishing
  • Swimming
  • Kayaking
  • Canoeing
  • Festivals
  • Downtown visits
  • Lodging
  • Camping
  • Theme Park visits
  • Lighthouse tours
  • Scenic tours

A lake as massive as this is host to numerous aquatic flora and fauna. Of the fish species observed and caught in this destination, these are the most noteworthy:

  • Yellow perch
  • Smallmouth bass
  • Largemouth bass
  • Bowfin
  • Lake trout
  • Lake whitefish
  • Lake sturgeon
  • Catfish
  • Bullhead
  • Chinook salmon
  • Coho salmon
  • Steelhead
  • Walleye

3. Lake Superior

lake superior wisconsin

Lake Superior is yet another one of the Laurentian Great Lakes of the United States and is considered to be the largest freshwater lake in the world and third-largest in terms of volume.

This lake possesses an astounding 10% of the world’s surface freshwater and extends into Canadian territory, specifically Ontario, Canada. In terms of neighboring states, Lake Superior is shared with Minnesota and Michigan.

According to surveys, Lake Michigan has a surface area of roughly 32,000 square miles, and average depth of approximately 480 feet, and a maximum depth of around 1,300 feet.

Not to be bested by its fellow great lake, Lake Superior also offers several amenities and facilities, including the following:

  • Lighthouses
  • State Parks
  • Zoo
  • Museums
  • Hiking
  • Boating
  • Fishing
  • Scenic tours
  • Forest visits
  • Swimming
  • Island hopping
  • Murals
  • Wildlife viewing

Just like its companion great lakes, Lake Superior is also home to several fish species, including the following:

  • Lake whitefish
  • Walleye
  • Lake sturgeon
  • Lake trout
  • Burbot
  • Muskellunge
  • Rock bass
  • Brook trout
  • Smallmouth bass
  • Northern pike
  • Yellow perch

4. Lake Wisconsin

lake wisconsin

Stepping away from the massive tourist destinations, we now move on to a lowkey entry in our list: Lake Wisconsin. If you love simplicity and are looking for a destination that does not attract hundreds of tourists, then this is the place for you.

With a reported surface area of just around 9,500 acres and a maximum depth of approximately 40 feet, this reservoir is found within and shared by Columbia and Sauk counties in Wisconsin.

From a practical standpoint, this man-made lake of water serves as an effective flood control measure. However, as a tourist attraction, it is also open to the following:

  • Boating
  • Fishing
  • Camping
  • State Park visits

Among the fish species stocked in this lake, the following are the most prominent:

  • Smallmouth bass
  • Largemouth bass
  • Northern pike
  • Lake trout

5. Lake Pepin

lake pepin

If you find yourself near either Minnesota or Wisconsin, there is a wonderful lake named Lake Pepin that is waiting for you to enjoy and marvel at.

This lake is a naturally occurring lake and serves as a passageway for water, highway, and rail transportation and delivery. It has an estimated surface area of 45.7 square miles and an average depth of roughly 20 feet.

From a tourist perspective, this lake is attributed with founding the recreational activity and sport of water skiing. Other fun things to do in this area are the following:

  • Local events
  • Boating
  • Fishing
  • State Park visits
  • Yachting
  • Camping
  • Picnicking

There are a number of fish species that populate the waters of Lake Pepin, including:

  • Northern pike
  • Smallmouth bass
  • Largemouth bass
  • White bass
  • Sauger

Conclusion

The best boating lakes in Wisconsin should be appreciated as much as any other boating and fishing lake in the United States. With a wealth of aquatic species and an established tourist attraction system put in place, Wisconsin has truly made something out of the nature and wildlife it has been blessed with.

If you are planning to take a trip out into the wilderness and marvel at the scenic landscapes and catch a fish or two, then the boating lakes in Wisconsin are waiting for you and your family or friends to come and visit!

Scroll to Top