Every spring, muskies attempt to leap the Wingra Creek Dam in Wisconsin.
All anglers are familiar with the legendary muskellunge, aka: the fish of 10,000 casts. The fish that many anglers target, but few ever catch. Some may go their whole lives without ever seeing one in the wild. Well, there is one location where one can predictably see muskies every spring, and that is the city of Madison, Wisconsin. More specifically, at the Wingra Creek Dam.
The Dane County structure was put up years ago and has been drawing huge muskies for decades. The fish swim their way to the dam from nearby Lake Monona in a migration that draws them to the Lake Wingra wetlands to spawn.
Because the water clarity is excellent, and because the dam sits in the middle of Wingra Park, part of the University of Wisconsin-Madison's arboretum, the spectacle attracts tons of people every year hoping to see giant 50+ inch fish trying to make the leap.
According to the Wisconsin State Journal, the fish are triggered to attempt this journey through Wingra Creek, which flows from Lake Monona next to Olin Park, out of pure instinct. The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources believes the length of the day, and water temperatures are major cues that urge the fish to make the journey to the watershed at the Lake Wingra Dam.
Even though the muskies do make attempts at spawning, the DNR has not recorded successful attempts in the 300-acre lake. Instead, they maintain a population in the lake through annual fish stocking efforts.
As you probably already guessed, having all the muskies bunched up in such a small creek like this with low water levels makes them easy targets. That is why the DNR does not allow any fishing around the dam when the muskies are jumping. Even if you cannot fish them, we still want to make a journey to Madison to see this rare sight. There are not many places in the world you can watch giant muskies leaping like this!