If you live in Wisconsin, fish are important. The Friday night fish fry is a sacred, culture-driven meal. Fishing, whether in an urban pond, an icy Driftless Area trout stream or a Vilas County lake, is a cherished tradition, often a bonding experience between parent and child or with friends. Up to 1.2 million people purchase fishing licenses and take to state waters each year in a hopeful quest for bass, northern pike, panfish or walleye.
But even if you are an avid angler, or a fish fry or fish boil connoisseur, there is a good chance you are unaware our state boasts an amazing diversity of fish. Many of Wisconsin’s 183 species of fish are inconspicuous. For the most part, they are small, rare, or lurk in hidden habitats. The majority don’t fall into the game fish category, so our chances of encountering them are as remote as a trophy musky.
UW-Madison scientific illustrator emeritus Kandis Elliot, however, has solved the problem for us by creating a series of educational posters that depict every piscine species that swims in Wisconsin. The magnum opus is a 13-foot by 44-inch canvas poster that portrays every Wisconsin fish species drawn to average adult size. That would include a 6-foot sturgeon and a 5-foot paddlefish.
Taking the project a step further, Elliot has broken down our state’s fish into family groups that fit on posters that take up far less than 13-feet of wall space. The series of 10 posters, printed on archival quality paper, is now on sale as a benefit for the UW-Madison Zoological Museum. So if you have a favorite fish or family of fishes, or if you are a sucker for stunning scientific illustration, take a peek at our poster slide show and consider purchasing a poster that both illustrates Wisconsin’s natural diversity and beauty and supports a museum dedicated to the study of animal life, including many we’ll only ever see through the eyes of an artist.