Recreational fisheries have high economic worth, valued at US$190 billion globally. An important, but underappreciated, secondary value of recreational catch is its role as a source of food. This contribution is poorly understood due to difficulty in estimating recreational harvest at spatial scales beyond a single system, as traditionally estimated from individual creel surveys. Here, we address this gap using 28-year creel surveys of ~300 Wisconsin inland lakes. We develop a statistical model of recreational harvest for individual lakes and then scale-up to unsurveyed lakes (3,769 lakes; 73% of statewide lake surface area). We generate a state-wide estimate of recreational lake harvest of ~4,200 metric tons and an estimated annual angler consumption rate of ~1.1 kg, nearly equal to the total estimated United States per capita freshwater fish consumption. An important ecosystem service, recreational harvest makes significant contributions to human diets and plays an often-unheralded role in food security.