The Northwoods’ clear, cool waters are perfect habitat for the big ones.

As sounds go, the melodic plink of fish line and lure hitting water is one of the most evocative, conjuring up lazy summer days. Fishing is not a sport for the harried or the hurried. to be on calm water surrounded by nature, solo or with friends or family, is to be held in suspended time, where nothing matters but the moment.

If that’s the kind of fishing you favor, that is.

“Fishing can be as high tech or low tech as you like,” says John Kubisiak, WDNR fisheries biologist. “It’s as easy or difficult as you make it.” Summer fishing is infinitely simpler than ice fishing — less gear, fewer layers of clothing, and you can go barefoot. But ice fishing on a crystal clear winter day brings its own exhilaration.

There’s a hierarchy to the complexity of the sport. Pan fish (sunnies, blue gills, crappies, pumpkinseed, and perch) call for simple tools and methods.  Game fish (smallmouth and large-mouth bass, northern pike, and walleye) require more savvy and more sophisticated gear. Hunting the elusive musky is the Big Game hunt of fishing. There’s no end to the gizmos and gadgets that promise to help you catch that trophy fish.

Fishing with kids is easy, especially on a dock fishing for sunnies and bluegills. “little kids just like to see the bobber go down,” says kubisiak. If your fishing buddies are older and want more action, he advises game fishing, where they can cast and reel to their hearts’ content. Or consider fishing with one of many local guides who can share their knowledge of the area and improve your odds at catching that trophy fish.

Each type of fishing has its own season and bag limits, and most anglers 16 and over require a license. To stay legal, consult Wisconsin Fishing regulations, available at DNR offices, most bait shops and wherever licenses are sold — and online at