Wisconsin Fishing


Anyone who loves freshwater fishing, or would like to give it a try, needs to visit Wisconsin's Northwoods. The three northern counties of Vilas, Oneida and Price, and the Lac du Flambeau Indian Reservation, combine to offer 2,900 lakes brimming with fish ranging from the almighty muskellunge to great-tasting panfish.

This region of Wisconsin has historically attracted celebrities ranging from President Dwight Eisenhower to a young Elizabeth Taylor, who both fished Oneida County's famed Lake Minocqua several times. The Northwoods region continues to be popular with vacationing celebrities as well as business executives and pro athletes who crave great fishing and stepping out of the limelight. But Wisconsin Northwoods Fishing is also a wonderful escape for anyone, say members of the Lac du Flambeau Governor's Area Promotion Committee. This 22-member group includes representatives of Vilas, Price and Oneida counties, the Lac du Flambeau Band of Lake Superior Ojibwe Indians, and the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources and Department of Tourism.

We're seeing people getting closer together, family-wise, since the tragic events of Sept. 11, said Crystal Lake Johnson of the Rhinelander Area Chamber of Commerce. We're not seeing as many singles as we used to; people are realizing that fishing in Wisconsin's Northwoods is a great and inexpensive family activity. Johnson quickly pointed out that Rhinelander, the county seat of Oneida County, has 234 lakes within 12 miles of downtown. These lakes are dotted with resorts of all types, many catering to families and all available within an easy day's drive of anyone living in Wisconsin or surrounding states.

Gregg Guthrie, a Lac du Flambeau tribal member and co-chair of the governor' s committee, said the group emphasizes intercultural cooperation to promote an underutilized resource.

We have so much to offer, but many people don't know it's here, he said. We want to share our terrific fishing resources with others. And it can be really simple; a young boy or girl can take a cane pole, hook and bobber to any local trout fishing pond and is almost sure to catch some fish. On the other hand, an experienced angler can choose from 260 lakes (with a total water surface of nearly 18,000 acres) within the Lac du Flambeau Indian Reservation, including 10 connected lakes on the Lac du Flambeau Chain of Lakes.

Nearby Price County is known more for exceptional hunting, but it too offers excellent fishing. The county's 98 lakes, 45 trout streams and three major rivers are largely untapped.

In spring, all it takes to land some great panfish is a bobber and a hook and minnow, said David Kelly, an area guide. Find some shallow water in the 3-5 foot range and you're in business. Like the entire Wisconsin Northwoods, Price County offers plentiful smallmouth and largemouth bass, walleyes, northern pike and muskies.

Vilas County includes the fishing hotbeds of Boulder Junction, Eagle River, Manitowish Waters and St. Germain. The county's 1,300 lakes and 73 streams boast some of the state's record catches, including an 18-pound walleye record that has stood for 69 years, and a 51-pound tiger musky taken in 1919. But you don't have to be an experienced angler, or have the full use of your body to fill a stringer in Wisconsin's Northwoods.

The Wisconsin DNR requires that all new public access sites on lakes and streams include parking for disabled anglers, a smooth route to the boat dock, and a ramp for wheelchair access to the dock itself. As a result, hundreds of these wheelchair-accessible facilities exist in the Northwoods.

Fishing Has No Boundaries, a non-profit organization dedicated to the promotion of fishing by those with disabilities, will hold its annual weekend outing May 31-June 2. That's just one of 49 fishing events scheduled for May through October in Wisconsin's Northwoods.

The fishing season for most species opens May 4 in Oneida, Vilas and Price Counties, and the Lac du Flambeau Reservation. A Wisconsin or Reservation fishing license is valid on all lakes.

Also see: Fishing Tackle

Author Notes:

Jeff Elkins contributes and publishes news editorial to http://www.chum-bucket.com.  The place to find top quality fishing tackle, lures, reels, rods, gear, supplies & equipment.

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