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Fish For Musky, Help With Research: No Closed Season For Musky On DNR Research Lake In Vilas County

A DNR fisheries technician releasing a musky back into the water after taking measurements for an annual survey.

Itching to get out on the water to hook Wisconsin’s state fish? There’s one place in Wisconsin where you can fish for musky year-round: Escanaba Lake. A 293-acre lake with a maintained boat launch, Escanaba is one of five lakes in the Northern Highland Fishery Research Area (NHFRA) near Boulder Junction.


The NHFRA was established in 1946 for the long-term monitoring of angler behaviors, fish population dynamics and ecosystem-scale studies to benefit Wisconsin fisheries and inform management decisions.


To aid research on this elusive species, many musky lurking in Escanaba are tagged using passive integrated transponders (PIT). Musky anglers are provided a PIT tag reader when they check in at the Escanaba Lake Creel Station.


Anglers can use the reader to scan any musky they catch on Escanaba and bring back the tag number, length of the fish and the general location where the musky was caught. Upon returning to the station with the data, anglers can learn more about the history of their catch. This data helps research scientists learn more about the growth and movement of musky over time and is added to the growing, nearly 80-year-long NHFRA dataset.


There are no recreational fishing regulations (length limits, bag limits, closed seasons) on any of the five NHFRA lakes outside of the lake-specific fishing regulations for experimental purposes. Permits are free, and anglers simply have to check in and check out with the research staff at the station when fishing in the NHFRA.


Ready to start musky season early while helping musky research? Plan a visit to Escanaba Lake and fish the NHFRA!

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