Are you looking for things to do on your northern Wisconsin vacation? It takes more than a weekend to explore all that Florence County has to offer. Over 50% of our county land is publicly owned giving you access to outdoor adventure galore. Ride our trails on your ATV/UTV or snowmobile to burn off some stress. Burn some calories hiking, biking, cross country skiing or snowshoeing our trails or blaze your own trail through the woods.

Paddle undeveloped rivers to reconnect with nature. Take your kids geocaching in the Nicolet National Forest to see their excitement at finding the hidden treasure. Enjoy a beautiful day on the water fishing, swimming, waterskiing or kayaking our lakes. Every season brings another palette of color, berry to pick or game to hunt here in the Northwoods. If history is your thing, the Historical Society Museum is a must do.
Fishing Update for Opening Day 2018

About a week ago I would have told you to get your tip ups dusted off for opening day of the gamefish season in Florence County, but that doesn’t seem to be the case anymore. Winter turned right into summer this week and lake ice is rapidly deteriorating. While some local waters may hold ice through the weekend I am suspecting that the majority of the Florence County waters will indeed be open for business by Saturday.

As most of us know Florence County offers a wide variety of fishing opportunities for gamefish. Walleye seems to be the target gamefish for most anglers this time of year and many of you will be chasing “old marble eyes” this weekend. I get a lot of calls from anglers wondering where we are stocking walleye every year because they want to improve their chances of catching walleye…while I appreciate their passion and their willingness to educate themselves on our fisheries, these inquiries have me believing that there are some major misconceptions of the walleye fisheries in Wisconsin. There are basically three different types of walleye fisheries in Wisconsin; 1) populations with strong natural reproduction (that we do not stock), 2) populations that have very limited natural reproduction (stocking is necessary to maintain a sizeable population), and 3) waters that do not have the ability to naturally reproduce (these waters are completely dependent on stocking). While the state of Wisconsin has great fish hatcheries that create an amazing product, the stocking of walleye can rarely replicate what the naturally reproducing populations are capable of. For example, in Florence County, the best stocked walleye waters create adult populations that tend to max out at a density of about 1 adult walleye/acre, while naturally reproducing populations tend to produce adult walleye populations in the 3 to 8 adults/acre range. So my advice to walleye anglers that are looking to have the best chances of catching walleye is to first look to waters with good natural reproduction of walleye followed up by those stocked water that have shown good survival indicated by our routine walleye surveys. For a number of different reasons Florence County has limited waters that currently have natural reproduction, my fisheries team is working hard to improve the few populations that are capable of naturally reproducing through habitat improvement and protection, fish community management and strategic stocking. However, these walleye rehabilitation projects take many years before the effects are seen by anglers. As of right now there are two populations with strong natural reproduction in Florence County, the Brule River Flowage is one, which has a solid walleye population at approximately 3 adults/acre. The other population is found in Patten lake. Patten Lake is an interesting story, walleye abundance dropped to an all-time low of just under 1 adult/acre in 2011. But a walleye rehabilitation project conducted during the summer of 2011 has allowed this population to pull of impressive year classes of walleye since 2011. It takes a number of years for walleyes to mature (and get to the legal length limit), so this population is still in the recovery stage, but is likely in the 2 to 3 adults/acre range currently. In the years to come this population should grow tremendously, likely to more than 5 adults per acre within the next 2-3 years. So even if you don’t plan to fish Patten this year, keep it in mind for the future.

Florence County is also home to some of the best largemouth bass and northern pike fishing in the state. Both of these species will be open to harvest on opening day (5/5). For those looking to catch large numbers of northern pike I would recommend fishing Fay Lake, Twin Falls Flowage, Kingsford Flowage, Seidel Lake, Sea Lion Lake, and Long Lake. All of these waters have abundant pike populations. For anglers that are willing to have less action, but want to catch large pike, the best places to catch trophy sized northern pike in Florence County are; Lake Ellwood, Brule River Flowage, and Kingsford Flowage. All of these systems have lower density populations (accept Kingsford Flowage) and you will have to work harder to catch a pike, but the average size is very good with fish over 40 inches captured every time we conduct surveys of these waters.

Largemouth bass tend to be more active when the water warms a bit, so bass fishing can be tough at the opener when we have late ice out. But anglers looking to have the best chances of catching largemouth bass should go to the higher density populations, which are; Cosgrove Lake, the Spread Eagle Chain of Lakes, Edith Lake, East Bass Lake, and Keyes Lake. Those trophy hunters willing to sacrifice some action for large fish should try some of the lower density populations, which are; Patten Lake, Fay Lake, and Sea Lion Lake, these lakes have very impressive size structure. Recently there have been some “consumptive” regulations put on some of the higher density bass populations in Florence County to try to increase angler harvest on overabundant populations. So you will notice that there is no minimum length limit on largemouth bass, however, fish from 14-18 inches cannot be harvested, and only 1 fish over 18 inches can be harvested each day, for the Spread Eagle Chain of Lakes, Cosgrove Lake, and Keyes Lake. If you are looking to harvest some largemouth these are the first places I would try.
This Saturday is also the opening day for trout fishing in Wisconsin. In Florence County brook trout are the most abundant but there are few streams that contain fishable brown trout populations. The best brook trout streams in Florence County are; Woods Creek, Wisconsin Creek, Lamon-Tangue Creek, and LePage Creek. Besides the Brule River, and the lower section of Woods Creek (from Hwy 139 to where the stream meets the Popple River), all the streams in Florence County are managed under one regulation, which is an 8” minimum size limit and daily bag limit of 3 fish. The Brule River has a special regulation to match the Michigan regulation, and the lower section of Woods Creek is being managed with a 12” minimum size limit and daily bag limit of 2 fish, which has already shown great success by creating a high size structure population. There are a number of lakes that WDNR stocks with yearling trout (typically rainbow and brown trout) as a put and take fishery. This year’s late ice-out has made it difficult to get these lakes stocked prior to opening day. Currently we have a plan in place to get the yearling rainbow trout stocked into Edith Lake, Lost Lake, Sand Lake (town of Homestead), and Logger Lake (Forest County) by opening day, however, some of these stockings may not occur until later in the day on Saturday. The yearling brown trout destined for Lost Lake, and the yearling brook trout that will be stocked in Little Cub Lake (Forest County) likely will not be stocked until the week after the opener. The streams that we typically stock yearling trout in have already been stocked and are ready to go for opening day, these streams include the Pine River, Popple River, and Fisher Creek in Florence County. Sand Lake, located in the Spread Eagle Barrens, has also been stocked (since we stock that lake in the fall), and is ready for angling.
Hopefully these tips will help you on your fishing adventures this year. I wish you the best of luck! I always appreciate any feedback on your fishing experiences, as they can give myself a better idea of what anglers are looking for, and in turn can help with the management of our fisheries. So feel free to contact me via the email address listed below.

Greg Matzke, Fisheries Biologist WDNR-Florence

Click here for other general fishing tips from our DNR Fisheries Biologist

Ice Fishing: With 265 lakes and four major rivers, there are many places to fish. Ice fishing up north is a social activity aimed at curing cabin fever as well as catching some fish to eat. The most social form of this activity happens at ice fishing derbies. For a small entry fee, participants have the chance to win prizes while having fun with family and friends and meeting many new acquaintances.

The Roadhouse 139 Ice Fishing Derby on Long Lake is February 4th this year. Long Lake is known for nice northern pike and pan fish. Leff’s Sports Bar is hosting their 6th Annual Ice Fishing Derby on February 11. This derby allows fishermen to fish on Lake Emily or Keyes Lake. The Homestead and Aurora Conservation Club sponsor the Pete “Toad” Church Memorial Ice Fishing Derby generally in January, but depending on ice conditions, it has been postponed some years. Check events tab for the latest information. This event is held on the Pine River Flowage known as an excellent small mouth bass fishery.

Tip up fishing for northern pike is a relaxing family activity. Northern Pike feed actively throughout the daylight hours, so you don’t have to brave the dark and cold. And once you get your tip-ups set, you can sit back and watch your tip-ups or throw a football or play a game of badminton or snow-golf on the ice. The best lakes in Florence County to catch northern pike through the ice are; Patten Lake, Twin Falls Flowage, Fay Lake, Seidel Lake and Sea Lion Lake. If you are looking for a trophy pike, give Lake Ellwood or the Brule River Flowage a try. There aren’t as many fish per acre in these two lakes, but the fish there are monsters.

If you are looking to jig for pan fish, the better waters are the Spread Eagle Chain of Lakes, Sea Lion Lake, Twin Falls Flowage and Halsey Lake. Or if you prefer walleye, Lake Emily, Patten Lake and the Brule River Flowage are the hot spots through the ice. So call ahead to make sure the ice is thick enough and then pack up your ice fishing gear, shanty or bucket and come join the fun.

Florence County is a fisherman's haven with its 265 lakes and 165 miles of rivers and streams. Pan fish can be found in almost all lakes within the county. Lakes that contain walleye would consist of Patten Lake, Keyes Lake, and the Spread Eagle Chain of Lakes. Muskies are caught in the Brule and Menominee River Flowage. Brook trout are available for the catching in Sand Lake which is located within the Spread Eagle Barrens.

If river fishing appeals to you, then the Brule, Pine and Popple Rivers are great places to catch trout. All three of these rivers have many access points and are bordered by large amounts of public land. These rivers are remote and challenging, but true wilderness experiences. The Menominee River contains a potpourri of musky, northern pike, walleye and pan fish.

Shore fishing for the casual fisherman has plenty of options available. Fisher Lake in Florence has a beautiful fishing pier, that can be accessed by route of the south end of Chapin Street. Lake Emily Park has a long boat ramp at the water edge, great for casting a line on a warm summer day, or Keyes Lake Park also offers a pier for shore fishing. The abandoned Twin Falls Bridge at the Vagabond Park is an excellent option as well. If a map is what you need for your day trip of fishing, contact the Wild Rivers Interpretive Center or go to the map tab within this website for information that will get you to where the big one's are.

DNR - Fisheries Comprehensive Survey Reports

Trout Streams Information
Brule River X 29.2 X X
Cody Creek X 3.4 X
Deadman Creek X 2.7 X
Fisher Creek X 2.9 X
Haymarsh Creek X 1.6 X
Hendricks Creek X 5.1 X
Johnson Creek X 6.5 X
Kieper Creek X 3.0 X
LaMontagne Creek X 7.7 X X
LePage Creek X 4.5 X
LeRoy Creek X 3.4 X
Little Popple Creek X 17.3 X X
Lunds Creek X 3.3 X
Montagne Creek X 5.1 X
Morgan Creek X 7.7 X
Patten Creek X 2.4 X
Pemebonwon River X 5.0 X
Pine River X 89.0 X X
Popple River X 62.0 X X
Riley Creek X 4.4 X
Rock Creek X 3.2 X
Sevenmile Creek X 1.5 X
Simpson Creek X 2.9 X
Wakefield Creek X 2.0 X
Wisconsin Creek X 5.9 X
Woods Creek X 16.0 X

Water Flow
USGS Real-Time Water Data for Wisconsin

Water Levels

Wisconsin Paddle Guide

Lakes Information
LAKES Acres Depth Access Bass Musky NorthernPike Panfish Trout Walleye
Anna Lake 36 61 X X X X
Bass Lake 50 37 X X X
Bass Lake West 57 19 X X X
Brule River Flowage 297 64 X X X X X X
Bush Lake 50 18 X X X X
Cosgrove Lake 76 26 X X X X X
Elwood Lake 132 25 X X X X
Emily Lake 191 43 X X X X X
Fay Lake 282 10 X X X X X
Grubhoe Lake 66 4 X X
Halsey Lake 512 10 X X X X X
Keyes Lake 202 77 X X X X X
Lake of Dreams 68 12 X X X X
Long Lake 340 23 X X X X X
Loon Lake 53 55 X X X X
Lost Lake 92 45 X X X
Mud Lake 76 8 X X X X
Patten Lake 255 52 X X X X X
Perch Lake 51 39 X X X
Pine River
145 38 X X X X X
Riley Lake So. 52 36 X X X X
Sand Lake 50 63 X X X X
Sand Lake 25 28 X X X
Sea Lion
122 82 X X X X X
Seidel Lake 55 44 X X X
Spread Eagle Chain 487 68 X X X X X

Boat Launches
Aurora Fischer Lake Town
Menominee River H-A Conservation Club
Commonwealth Halls Lake County
Keyes Lake County
Lake Emily County
Pine River Flowage Site 24 Wisconsin Electric
Pine River Flowage Site 34 Wisconsin Electric
Sand Lake State
Fence Lund Lake Town
Morgan Lake Federal
Fern Sea Lion Lake County
Siedel Lake County
Florence Anna Lake Town
Cosgrove Lake Town
Ellwood Lake Town
Fisher Lake County
Menominee River Town
North Lake County
Patten Lake County
Pine River Site 5 Wisconsin Electric
Brule River Site 28 Wisconsin Electric
Twin Falls Flowage County
Frog Lake County
Montgomery Lake County
Homestead Bass Lake Town
Bush Lake Town
Sand Lake Town
Mirror Lake Town
West Bass Lake County
Scout Lake Town
Long Lake Fay Lake Town
Halsey Lake Federal
Long Lake Town
Lost Lake Federal
Tipler Lake of Dreams County

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