Musky - Bass - Pike
"Esox Masquinongy"- Muskellunge, or "musky," as they're more commonly called, are one of the largest and most beautiful freshwater fish in North America. Their diet consists largely of other fish, though it is relatively common for them prey on aquatic mammals and birds, such as ducklings and baby muskrat. For this reason, the flies that we fish for musky have very few limitations in terms of size and pattern. In addition to footlong plus flies, we use large fly fishing tackle, such as 9-11 weight rods and wire leaders. The musky's propensity for long, visual follows means anglers must do every bit of concentration and skill to entice one of these creatures into inhaling a fly. Hence was born the "Figure 8," a technique in which the angler holds their rod well beneath the surface of the water while continuing their retrieve boat side. It is a difficult thing to master, but when done right, affords a type of thrill unlike any in fly fishing. The musky season runs from the last Saturday of May through the end of November, or whenever our waters freeze up. Muskies go through several different feeding phases throughout the season, as their metabolisms respond to our dramatic seasonal climate. Our favorite times to target muskies exclusively are from opener to mid July (post-spawn), and from mid September through November (or ice-up), when muskies feed heavily preparing for the onset of winter.
Wisconsin is famous for its musky fishing, and has a storied history of people fishing them with conventional gear, which is still a very popular sport. In the old days, people normally kept the large muskies they brought to hand, sometimes even shooting them with a revolver as they came boatside. Luckily, the times have changed, and catch & release practices have once again allowed muskies to live long lives of 25 years or more, and reach lengths of over four feet.
The amount of fishable musky water in the Wisconsin Northwoods is mind-boggling. Large river systems such as the Chippewa and Flambeau Rivers offer hundreds of miles of floatable water, and there are countless other tributaries and lakes harboring this freshwater beast. We enjoy taking anglers to a diverse array of water types, allowing for a uniquely different fishing experience every day. In addition to this being pleasurable to us and the angler, we find it to be an effective approach to giving us the best chance of holding one of these magnificent predators.
Bass, Pike, Misc.
In addition to the mythical muskellunge, N. Wisconsin boasts one of the best bass fisheries in the country. Smallmouth bass are found in most warmwater river systems throughout the region, as well as numerous lakes. Float trips are our favorite way to target these hard fighters, whose diet ranges from minnows and frogs to large insects and crayfish, making them a perfect fish to pursue on the fly rod. Their largemouth brethren prefer the many placid lakes of our area, and have aggressive appetites themselves. Bass fishing is generally best from early summer through September, when water temperatures are their warmest. The "dog days" of summer are the perfect time to book a bass-specific trip.
Northern Pike, the more widespread cousin of the musky, inhabit many of the same waters as do bass and musky, and are terrific sport. They strike their prey with ferocity and rarely turn down a well presented meal. One very cool result is having pike and musky inhabiting the same waters is the presence of wild, naturally produced tiger musky. With a beauty rivaling any fish species on the planet, we see these ornately-patterned creatures a few times a season, on average. Like the tiger trout of the Driftless region, tiger musky are one of the most rare and special fish one can catch on a fly rod, and their catch is never taken for granted.
There are other species as well that we have caught while floating the rivers and lakes of the Northwoods, including walleye (a common catch in early summer and fall), catfish, and sturgeon, as well as bluegill and crappie. It just goes to show, with this diverse of a warmwater fishery, you just never know exactly what may attack your fly!