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Fishing / Fly Fishing / Ice Fishing
Marinette County waters sport a diverse fish population, offering something for every angler. If an angler can’t find a place to their liking in Marinette County, they might as well quit fishing. Besides the variety in the type of fish you will find, you will also find a variety in the type of water you can choose to fish. With so many options you might need to add a few more days onto your vacation.
High Falls Flowage has historically been known for producing big fish. In May, look for walleye both along the shoreline and in the main part of the flowage. A 1/8 or 1/4 ounce jig and minnow is the best presentation. By late June, most walleyes will be in a summer pattern; weed lines will be prime feeding areas early and late in the day. The deeper rock humps are the prime daytime holding areas. Continue to use jigs, but tip them with a jumbo leech or night crawler. In spring, smallmouth cruise the rocky shorelines and are eager to hit plastics or live bait. By mid-summer, smallmouth are active early in the day as they feed along the weed lines and rock piles. In fall, work the deep rock pikes with a jig and minnow.
High Falls has produced some record class muskies in recent years and if you are after a fish of a lifetime, it is as good a place as any. In June, fish a bucktail or shallow running crank bait on the edge of any fresh weed growth. As the summer progresses, concentrate crank baits and jerk baits on the deep weed lines and in fall drift the deep water with a sucker. For bluegill, work the bays; for crappie, focus on the wooded shorelines. In summer, while fishing weed lines, the action is best early and late in the day. In fall, crappie stack up along the weed lines.
Caldron Falls Flowage is “class A” musky water and is the premier musky lake in Northeast Wisconsin. Caldron Falls Flowage has the perfect balance between numbers and quality fish. The flowage is a typical Northwood’s Musky Flowage with plenty of shoreline cover, cabbage weed beds and off shore structure. Fish the fresh cabbage with orange / black buck tails or twitch baits in June. As summer progresses continue to fish the cabbage for action, but for big fish work the weed line with jerk baits. In fall deep diving crank baits are deadly when fishing the weed lines and off shore structure.
Largemouth bass are also present in strong numbers on Caldron Falls. Cast the wooded shorelines with spinner baits and plastics. Fishing the slop with weedless spoons is also a good summer tactic. Panfish are abundant on Caldron Falls. Crappie will suspend along the weed line while bluegill will hold tight to the base of the weeds.
Lake Noquebay is 2,400 acres and the largest lake in Marinette County. It offers a multi specie fishery. The panfish bite is consistent throughout the year with typical panfish patterns being the norm. Fish the shallows in spring and early summer and work the deeper weeds in summer and fall. Bluegill are the dominate specie but a good crappie population is also present. Largemouth bass are caught in the shallows in spring with plastics and spinner baits By summer the large bass are caught along the weed lines with jigs and plastics. Fishing heavy weed cover in summer can yield big largemouth. Few anglers target largemouth bass in fall, but it is prime time for a lunker. While not known as a walleye lake, a good walleye population is present. For walleye, concentrate on the deep weed lines with live bait presentations. For northern pike, it is hard to beat a spinner bait or weedless spoon.
Scattered throughout Marinette County are countless smaller lakes that offer endless angling opportunities. Most of these lakes have good panfish and largemouth bass fisheries while some contain trout. Some of these lakes are remote and offer a wilderness experience. These lakes are easy to fish since both largemouth bass and panfish are perfect for fly fisherman or anglers with a small boat.
Forming the border with Wisconsin and Michigan, the Menominee River flows through some of the states most pristine areas. The Menominee River boasts a “World Class” smallmouth bass fishery with anglers encountering some of the largest smallmouth bass in North America with 5 pounders common. Besides smallmouth, anglers will find walleye, northern pike, sturgeon, musky and perch throughout the river. By mid May, the big smallmouth are on the move as they prepare to spawn. Casting crank baits and plastics around rock outcroppings produces lots of smallmouth. The larger smallmouth hold just out of the current, and tight to the rocks. My favorite presentation is a four inch jerk bait or a tube. Even a small rock outcropping out of the main current can hold a bunch of big smallmouth. By summer, the smallmouth action heats up throughout the river with these aggressive smallmouth hitting plastics and surface baits. Whether you float the river with your fly rod or use a bass boat one thing is certain, you will catch smallmouth. Fall is an excellent time for trophy smallmouth or connecting with a behemoth sturgeon during the special sturgeon season.
The Lower Menominee River where the river enters the Bay of Green Bay is one of the few places where you can catch both numbers of walleye and have a good chance of boating a trophy. Both the lower Menominee River and the Bay of Green Bay have one of the best walleye fisheries in the Midwest. Trolling is the preferred method for locating walleyes. When trolling, both live and artificial baits are productive. Crawler harnesses, leeches and crank baits are all effective. As far as color goes, use fire-tiger patterns on sunny days and minnow patterns on overcast days. Crank baits in a silver / blue pattern can be productive at any time. River anglers also do well vertical jigging with a jig tipped with a minnow, nightcrawler or plastic. While fishing the bay, anglers can also run into jumbo perch, trout and salmon.
-Article and photos courtesy of Mike Mladenik - Marinette County Fishing Guide
FLY FISHING IN MARINETTE COUNTY,
we have a lot of offer
Story & photos copyright by jerry kiesow
The little yellow popper, tethered at the end of a 5X tippet, propelled by the weight-forward, floating, three weight line, landed lightly between the edges of a group of lily pads surrounding an old stump along the shores of the Peshtigo River in Marinette County, Wisconsin. After the tiny rings dissipated, I wiggled the rod tip to make the fly twitch a tad.
Fly fishing in Marinette County. Where does one begin when talking about the third largest county in Wisconsin?
First a few facts: We have 444 lakes, totaling over 12,000 acres of water. There are 304 rivers and streams which can give you an additional 920 miles of possible fishing opportunities. (Well, maybe not all those miles are fishable. We will talk about that a bit later.) Two-thirds of those miles have trout living in them. Of those miles of trout water, (approximately) 310 miles are class I, 256 miles are class II, and 48 miles are class III.
(For those who do not know what the classes mean, here it is in brief: Class I has high water quality, allowing for natural reproduction. Therefore, no artificial stocking is required to maintain a sustainable trout population. Class II has some natural reproduction, but not enough to maintain a good fishable population, so these streams are stocked to a degree. These streams do carryover all trout and can produce some nice trophies. Class III has water quality good enough to hold trout throughout the season, but not good enough for reproduction or carryover. Therefore, annual stockings of legal size fish are made, making them, essentially, put and take fishing streams. To find a map and listing of trout stream classifications, go to: http://dnr.wi.gov/fish/species/trout/streammaps.html
That said, let’s start our fly fishing tour by looking at the opportunities to catch trout. We have 614 miles of trout water. However, not all those miles are fishable with flies. (Some are barely fishable with any type of equipment.) When we talk about trout water, you must understand that some of the streams, better identified as creeks, included in those total miles, portions are only a few feet wide and a few inches deep, but they have holes. Also, there are those streams that may be wide enough to wade, but have “walls” and occasionally “walls and ceilings” of alder. These are trout waters, but I do not consider them fly fishing water.
That is not a negative. These small, clear, cold waters do hold trout, which can be caught if you are creative in your approach, but mostly, these are feeder creeks, in which the young trout live and grow until they become large enough to enter into the bigger “water-world.” Many of these creeks are class I. How many creeks are we talking about? I don’t know, but you will run into them as you explore the county.
The rivers and streams best suited to float a dry fly during a hatch, or deep drift a nymph, are rivers wide enough to get into and feel their coolness through your waders, the sand and/or stones on the bottom of your feet, and the force and pressure against your thighs. This best describes a fly fishing trout stream.
The trout waters in Marinette County are freestone rivers - rivers that have chunks of pre-Cambrian granite of all sizes, left by the glacier, scattered along and within their banks. Between these rocks are pockets and runs. Deep pools form below rapids, and scattered here and there are shallow, sparkling riffles.
Sometimes, in this kind of water, the best way to fly fish is with a short line and precise presentations - pocket fishing, and high sticking. However, when you find the pools and flat runs, you can cast full out. As you do, you can experience almost hearing the orchestra from “A River Runs Through It” giving you the background you deserve as your loops float and flow, and your presentation is perfect.
What kind of trout can you find in these rivers, streams, and creeks? Native brook trout prevail in the smaller, colder steams. Browns and rainbows can be found, along with brookies, in the bigger rivers, like the Peshtigo.
Speaking of the Peshtigo, this main artery of the county, is really two different types of fisheries - the cold trout water and several warmer water reservoirs. The trout water is basically to the north, above county highway C. However, there is a special section of river, between Johnson Falls and Spring Rapids, which has special rules, which is also regulated as trout water. (Although these designations are true, don’t be surprised if, as you cast your flies in the special section and the first few miles above highway C, if you hook into bass, panfish, and/or northern pike. Fish do not read the regulations and have a tendency to overlap habitats and living spaces. It only adds to the experience.)
So much for trouting in Marinette County. Let’s shift to the warm water species - panfish, bass, etc.
I will use the Peshtigo as an example of what you can look forward to as a warmwater fly fisherman. With the exception of the special section listed above, any water south of the highway C bridge, is considered warm water country, and rightfully so. Five Wisconsin Public Service Corporation hydroelectric dams, and one BPM (Badger Paper Mill) dam in the city of Peshtigo, slow and warm the waters of the mighty river and create flowages in a variety of sizes. These flowages harbor a variety of panfish - crappie, bluegill, rock bass, perch - bass - both largemouth and smallmouth - walleye and northern pike, and the state’s most famous fish, the muskie.
These flowages, and the river sections that wind and twist and turn connecting them, all provide a wide variety of fly fishing opportunities. Access to the flowages are many. Thousands of acres of land surrounding the waters is the Peshtigo River State Forest. The forest maintains public boat landings on all of the flowages and in-between. Yes, access is readily available.
The aforementioned panfish and bass offer the fly fisherman the most action. Once the water warms into the 60’s, poppers cast along the miles and miles of shoreline will produce crappies and bluegills, with an occasional rock, smallmouth, or largemouth bass tossed in for good luck and additional fun.
If you are one of the fly flingers who pursue the mighty muskellunge, find some cabbage, cast away, and hang on. Each year trophy muskies are taken from High Falls and Caldron reservoirs.
Now the section of the Peshtigo that is rarely mentioned is from the city of Peshtigo downstream into the Peshtigo Harbor on Green Bay. For fly fishermen, in spring and fall you will find steelhead and salmon coming into the river to spawn. As with any of the Great Lakes tributaries, floating flies to these anadromous species is a fantastic way to catch them. Of course, you will not want to use the same weight rod that you have been using for panfish and bass - four to six weights. No, for these you want eight or nine weight equipment.
Even though I have spent most of these words on the Peshtigo, do not let that mislead you. Marinette County has 444 lakes all of which offer warmwater fisheries (a few hold trout). Many of these lakes have public access.
There are 21 parks and campgrounds in the county operated by the county and the state. Only three are not on water. There are private campgrounds with water access too.
Then we have the Menominee River, and portions of the tributaries that feed the Menominee or Peshtigo or flow into Green Bay. All hold the warmwater species.
The Menominee forms the border between us (Marinette County) and the UP of Michigan. It too has dams and reservoirs, and access points. It too has all kinds of fish for fly guys and gals to pursue. An entrepreneur from De Pere runs float trips down sections of the river designed for fly fishermen seeking smallmouth bass.
So the next time you are thinking about fly fishing, think about Marinette County. We have a lot to offer.
Oh! And if you are wondering about that little yellow popper that began this narrative, it was slurped up by a nine inch bluegill. One of many that evening. Where? Sorry, you will have to find your own.
Keep a good thought!
Editor’s note: Jerry teaches fly tying and fly fishing, and enjoys all aspects of the outdoors. In his book, “Tales of The Peshtigo Putzer,” he tells some fishing tales, hunting tales, and many other yarns on a variety of outdoor activities. You can get a copy at www.publishamerica.com., or if you would like a personalized autographed copy, send $24.00 to jerry kiesow, 1690 dellwood ct., grafton, wi 53024. The cost covers the book, tax, packaging and shipping. (Makes a great gift.)
Many of the lakes in Marinette County offer fantastic ice fishing. Caldron Falls Flowage, High Falls Flowage and Lake Noquebay are probably the best areas to drop your line. Giant panfish can be found if you try the right areas, but if you are just looking for dinner, you will not be disappointed. Hand sized bluegills, perch and crappie can be caught regularly.
If you stay shallow, the northern pike and musky stroll through
the weed beds looking to feed. This is a prime location to
set your tip-ups.
Guided Fishing Charters
P: (906) 290-2939
P: (715) 582-9090
Fishing from 8 various locations on the waters of Green Bay depending on the time of the year and what is most productive. We can fish from any location upon request. 1, 2 & 3 person rates available for a full day of fishing. Group Outings Welcome.
Tight Lines Fly Fishing
P: (920) 336-4106
Small Stream Adventure Packages
The best time for fishing this system is early-June through mid-September, however, trips start in mid-March and run through late-September. The trips include: transportation to and from the designated meeting area, flies, gear (if needed), non-alcoholic beverages, a full lunch, shuttle and recommended area lodging (if needed). A Wisconsin general fishing license is required.
Sporting Goods Shops, Bait & Tackle
Hook, Line N' Sinker
NEW LOCATION on Hwy 141in Crivitz
P: (715) 854-2073
Specializing in hunting & fishing, bait, tackle, licenses
J&D Bait & Tackle
N12327 Hwy 141
Wausaukee, WI 54177
P: (715) 856-6637
Hunting/Fishing Supplies, Registration, Licenses
Located 1 mile north of school on west side of Hwy 141
Porter's Flies - Billy Porter
N13511 Roush Rd
Wausaukee, WI 54177
P: (715) 759-5706
Call for Appointment
Fly Tying Supplies - Lures
Porter's Handcrafted Decoys - George Porter
N13511 Roush Rd
Wausaukee, WI 54177
P: (715) 759-5706
Call for Appointment
Hand Carved Birds, Plugs, Decoys
Links of Interest
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