fish filet on plate with vegetablesEating fish can be a delicious, low cost, and nutritious meal. But eating certain fish can also be harmful because they may contain mercury, PCBs, or PFAS.

  • Children under 15

  • Pregnant people (and the babies they carry)
  • People who may become pregnant
  • People who are nursing

Effects of PFAS on your health

Panfish (white bass, bluegill, and crappie) tend to have the highest PFAS levels.

PFAS build up in fish, but there is no pattern where it accumulates.

PFAS can stay in your body for years. The more fish you eat with PFAS, the higher your chances of health effects.

PFAS can cause development problems in children. They can increase your risk of

  • Cancer
  • Harm to your immune and reproductive systems,
  • High cholesterol
  • Changes to the way your hormones and thyroid hormones work.

We don’t know any ways of preparing or cooking fish that reduces your exposure to PFAS.

Learn more about PFAS in Dane County in our video.

Effects of mercury on your health

All fish contain some mercury. It accumulates in all parts of the fish, including the part you eat.

Mercury affects the nervous system. It can damage a child’s brain as it develops. It can affect children’s behavior and ability to learn.

In adults, mercury can affect coordination, vision, hearing, and speech. It may increase rates of heart disease in men.

You can get rid of mercury in your body over several weeks. Spacing your meals out over time helps reduce the amount of mercury in your body.

Effects of PCBs on your health

Smaller and younger fish generally have less PCBs. They accumulate in the fat. Carp and catfish, which are fatty fish, may have higher PCB levels.

You can reduce the amount of PCBs in fish by:

  • Skinning the fish
  • Trimming off fatty parts
  • Cooking it to allow fat to drip away (like grilling or broiling)

Pregnant people who eat a lot of fish with PCBs may have babies with lower birth weight. Their babies may have physical and learning development delays. PCBs can affect your ability to reproduce, affect your immune system, and may cause cancer.

PCBs get stored in your body fat for many years. Every time you eat fish with PCBs the total amount in your body increases.

Follow Safe Fish Eating Guidelines

Follow these guidelines to reduce your exposure to mercury, PCBs, and PFAS in fish. These guidelines do not apply to restaurant or store-bought fish.

Most Wisconsin inland waters

Fish Advisory For children under 15, women of childbearing age For men, women beyond childbearing age
Can eat any amount Bluegill, Crappie, Yellow Perch, Sunfish, Bullhead, Inland Trout
Can eat 1 meal a week Bluegill, Crappie, Yellow Perch, Sunfish, Bullhead, Inland trout Walleye, Pike, Bass, Catfish, all other species
Can eat 1 meal a month Walleye, Pike, Bass, Catfish, all other species Musky
Do not eat Musky


Fish Advisory For everyone
Badfish Creek & Oregon Branch downstream of Schneider Road

Carp - up to 1 meal a month

All other species - see table above
Lake Wingra

Carp - up to 1 meal a month

All other species - see table above
Lake Monona Carp - up to 1 meal a month, all sizes


Black Earth Creek

Fish Advisory

For everyone

Brown trout - all sizes Up to 1 meal a week
Other areas

Parts of the Yahara Chain of lakes, including Wingra Creek, Lake Monona, Starkweather Creek, Lake Waubesa, Upper and Lower Mud Lake, Lake Kegonsa, and the Yahara River downstream to the Rock River

Fish advisory for everyone

Up to 1 meal per week

Up to 1 meal per month

Bluegill All sizes
Crappie All sizes
Largemouth bass All sizes
Northern pike All sizes
Pumpkinseed All sizes
Walleye All sizes
Yellow perch All sizes