Wisconsin Rules and Regulations question discussion


Jack Dempsey
Original poster
MFK Member
Sep 25, 2015
I just have several questions about the rules and regulations that I may not get or I perceive differently and I hope you fellow fisherman/aquarist could help me out. I would like, if a DNR, game warden, or something were to read this in hopes that you could clarify these things for me I would appreciate it. I live on the border of Wisconsin, and I mostly fish within the borders of Wisconsin-Minnesota water boundaries. Just to list some of the areas that I fish in for clarity if needed are, Onalaska Spillway, Trempealeau lock and dam #6 or sometimes the Trempealeau float, and downtown riverside La crosse as some examples. I will start my questions, by listing off the regulations and rules that I dont get, and will put my confusion/or misunderstanding afterwards then we will go from there.
  1. "It is illegal, to move live fish away from a water", I would someday like to keep some of our native species in a tank like sauger, perch, etc but this one rule has discouraged me and needs more clarification, as I sometimes like my fish to be fresh as possible when taking them home to eat, and would usually give them some water to keep them alive as long as possible.
  2. "It is illegal, to fish with more than three hooks, baits, or lures", now I have gotten a major issue with this one, for simplicity let's just say all fishing rods have only one hook on them, since the fishing places that I listed above, I usually bring multiple rods just in case, but would like to maximize fishing percentages since im a usual throw bait out and wait guy. I been told by (not dnr or game wardens since whenever I meet them I so happen to be only using two rods) other passerbyers, other fisherman, and even by a cop that using three rods is illegal. Please help me clarify this one.
  3. "It is illegal, to possess or use a sinker release device while fishing", I understand that there are some kinds of salmon fishing in the ocean or other states where they put huge balls of sinkers on the line and when a salmon bites, then the sinker falls off, that is illegal and understand it, but what about fishing rigs like the high low rig or the fish finder rig, since a majority of the time when people snag up when bottom fishing, it's usually the sinker that gets caught, and these types of rigs are used to only lose the sinker and not the whole rig, so would these rigs technically be illegal then?, this rule needs more clarification or its just my misunderstanding.
  4. "It is illegal, to use gamefish as bait unless they meet any length restriction for the water body you are fishing and are included in your daily bag limit for that species", as with the stated places that I go fishing above, I am a major catfish guy, and without a doubt I have used bluegills as bait before, and likewise been told its illegal from passerbyers, fisherman, and even the same cop. And like usual, a DNR or Game Warden is never present whenever I want to talk to them, always hoped that they showed up so I COULD TALK and ask them personally but they never appear and I dont want to talk over the phone, I feel like it would be more difficult to get the point out, but as the rules stated, since bluegills have no size limit, 25 per person for bag limit, and the places I go fishing dont have size restrictions, bluegill are fair game. Heck if you wanted to, you could use a largemouth bass thats 14 inches in size as muskie or flathead bait, but who the heck would ever do that.
  5. "It is illegal, to take, catch, kill, or fish for any variety of fish in excess of the daily bag limit or total daily bag limit", with this rule stated, if I caught and kept my bag limit of bluegills which is 25, I couldn't go fish for more bluegills if I was catch and releasing afterwards, or I wouldn't be able to switch and catch my walleye limit which is 5, and just be forced back home?
  6. "It is illegal, to transport live rough fish (excluding suckers purchased for bait) or invasive species into or within the state without a permit from the DNR. Note: Rough fish or invasive fish that can be revived are considered live fish.", this one has the same question as question number 1.
These are the few rule and regulations that I dont understand or I'm misinterpreting, I will be emailing them as well to see if I could also get any thorough information. I do have some rants about some of the other rules and regulations but for those, those are just my own thoughts and dislikes. Do keep in mind that the rules and regulations that I mention mostly pertain to the Wisconsin-Minnesota water boundaries that I have listed above. I'm just like everyone else, trying to do everything right and legal, and understand the rule better to prevent myself from doing any wrong in the future. I have always read the fishing regulations every year and try and understand them everytime. Thanks for taking the time to read, and if you have an answer or followup statement feel free to comment.


MFK Member
Oct 14, 2005
Los Angeles
you should be able to call Fish and game in your state to find answers for all your questions.
Every state is different with regulations and since I'm in Cali I can only speculate.

1. for keeping live fish you usually need a collectors permit which is different from a fishing license

2. this usually refers to 1 line. For instance you can fish a double or triple dropper loop and be legal. Also some rigs like umbrella rigs have numerous 5-7 lures dragging behind them but in your case only 3 of them would be allowed to have hooks (in Cali it's 2 I believe, also in Cali for freshwater you need to buy a second rod stamp on top of your license to be able to fish 2 rods simultaniously).

3. This specifically mentions a sinker release device which I have never heard off so if you fish a regular rig and you lose the sinker to a snag that wouldn't count as a sinker release device

4. no idea best to call and talk to somebody

5. yes if you have your daily bag limit and you are still obviously targeting Blue Gill you would probably be in violation. Now if you switch and are targeting some other species now and the setup is completely different you are probably ok but depending on the warden you might still be in a grey area of the rules

6. no transporting of live fish (unless you have a permit to do so) except for suckers purchased for bait. you are more then likely supposed to go from the bait shop after purchase to your fishing spot and not home. Also you need to make sure the body of water you fish in allows live fishing with sucker fish as bait (different bodies of water might have different rules. It is your responsibility as an angler to know the rules for the body of water you fish in).