Essay: The Attainable Magic of Fishing

It’s fishing season here in Wisconsin, and there’s something magical about it.


Fishing for trout, standing in the cold, clean waters they demand, you wave the rod like a wand casting a spell – that ten o’clock, two o’clock stroke. You sink into the serenity, the buzz of cicadas, the musical trickle of rushing waters, sending you into that sublime meditative state as your bait alights on the shimmering surface like the insect it mimics, and you pause to find out if it is your lucky lure or not. 

Or maybe you’re in a boat puttering into that unreachable fishing hole where the big one might be lurking in the shadows. Or back on shore, drink in hand, sun glittering in your eyes; out on the end of the dock studying a bobber, calculating if that ripple was a cautious nibble or just the breeze.



If you don’t have a rod,  DNR sites and state parks often have free loaners, and a local bait shop can advise you on what to put on your line to catch your preferred quarry. The simple nightcrawler is a good bet for a lot of Up North’s easier-to-catch and good-eatin’ fish like bass, perch, bluegills and crappies. 

Would-be anglers older than 16 must obtain a general fishing license which can be purchased at DNR sites, many retailers and online at One-day licenses are available just to try (with an upgrade option if you like it), and there is a much cheaper first-time buyer license for anyone who hasn’t had a license in the last 10 years. If you’re after trout, there is an extra required stamp. Want to know where they’re biting? Consider hiring a local guide.


This story is part of Milwaukee Magazine‘s May issue.

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