Namekagon River: From Hayward to the St. Croix, the Namekagon is a great float-fishing river, unspoiled and canoeable from start to finish. Gravel riffles, boulders and deep holes hold smallies, along with walleyes, muskies, catfish and the occasional st
Chippewa River: From Glidden down to the Holcombe Flowage, the
Chip is canoe water, with lots of logs, rocks and cut banks that
hold bass, walleyes and muskies. Below Holcombe, it is big enough
for motorboats all the way to the Mississippi. In its upper
reaches, the Chip flows for miles through the Chequamegon National
Forest, where you’ll rarely see another angler. For maps and
information, try: (headwaters) Glidden Ranger Station, (715)
264-2511; (lower river) James Sport Shop, Ladysmith, (715)
Flambeau River: The North Fork is a dynamite bronzeback stream.
The best stretch runs through the Flambeau River State Forest in
Price and Sawyer counties. Boulders, riffles and logs hide smallies
all along the way. The stretch from the Hwy. 70 landing west of
Park Falls at Nine Mile Creek to State Forest headquarters at the
Hwy. W crossing offers an exciting canoe trip with a few easy
rapids and superb bass and muskie fishing. Dams near Ladysmith also
hold fish. For information, call (upper river) forest headquarters,
(715) 332-5271; (lower river) James Sport Shop, Ladysmith, (715)
Menominee River: The Menominee forms the state border with
Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. From Florence to Marinette, 10 hydro
dams slow the river, creating a variety of habitat for bass and
other species. In its upper reaches, it is a wilderness canoe
river. Near Marinette, it is big water. From headwaters to mouth,
it offers great smallmouth action. For guide service, contact Mike
Mladenik, (715) 854-2055.
Fox River: The Lower Fox, from Lake Winnebago to Green Bay, is
big water and it’s loaded with bass. While Appleton, Kaukauna,
Wrightstown, DePere and Green Bay give the river an urban flavor,
with plenty of pleasure boats, anglers still have no trouble
finding fish. For guide service, try Chuck Demlow, (262) 306-9781;
Clam and Yellow rivers: These two quiet, dark-water streams that
flow into the St. Croix in Burnett County are canoeable and full of
smallies. For information and supplies, try Big Mike’s, at the
narrows between Upper and Lower Clam lakes: (715) 349-2400.
Wolf River: Known best for its walleyes and white bass, the Wolf
also harbors some nice smallies from Shawano to Butte des Morts.
Brush piles, bend holes and gravel stretches hold bass. For guide
service, try Joel Kunz, (920) 982-0890; web site:
Yellowstone River: This Lafayette County stream flows out of
Yellowstone Lake. Bass and muskies are common. Camping is permitted
in the park. For info, call Yellowstone State Park, (608)
Milwaukee River: From West Bend to Milwaukee, the Milwaukee
River is a surprisingly good smallmouth stream, with lots of
boulders, deep holes and other cover. Access is easy at most bridge
crossings and in county parks. The DNR fishing hotline has
up-to-date information: (414) 382-7920.
Space limitations prevent detailing more rivers, but there are
plenty of good ones from north to south. The Jump and Red Cedar are
standouts in the Northwest. In the Northeast, the Oconto, Brule and
Peshtigo offer good bass action. In the South, the Black, Baraboo,
Sugar, Crawfish and Rock are all worth fishing for smallies.
Tow a boat, pack a canoe or pull on waders and give one of
Wisconsin’s smallmouth rivers a try this season. They’re hard to
beat for fast action and fun.