Best Places to Fish in Wisconsin: Willow Flowage

If you’re looking for a true “Up North” experience, look no further than the Willow Flowage in Oneida County. With over 70 miles of state protected, undeveloped shoreline and numerous islands, you’ll find yourself surrounded in a true wilderness setting. Some visitors lovingly refer to the Willow Flowage as “almost Canada”. When it comes to fishing, you’ll be hard pressed to find a better destination. It’s a huge, sprawling impoundment loaded with walleye, crappie and many other types of favored gamefish.

The Willow Flowage Dam was constructed by the Wisconsin Valley Improvement Company in 1926, creating the lake. The dam is located on the Tomahawk River downstream from its confluence with the Willow River. The lake was built to provide uniform flow in the Wisconsin River. Stumps, submerged timber and shallow rock bars pose potential navigation hazards and caution should be used when boating on the lake. The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources has designated a fish refuge above Cedar Falls in the Tomahawk River until the end of May. The Willow River also has restricted fishing during spring.

Here are some keys and prime locations for fishing on Willow Flowage:

  • Back Bay is productive for crappie and bluegill along the early weed growth. Switch to timber if the weeds are not productive.
  • Warm water in spring will hold active bluegill and crappie in Hilbert Bay. In summer, largemouth bass and northern pike can be caught using spinnerbaits along the weed edge.
  • In late summer and early fall, walleye will relate to old river channels and deep stump flats. Trolling crankbaits can be effective in these areas, but snags are common for novice anglers. If fish are located while trolling crankbaits, stop and work the area with jigs tipped with live bait.
  • Rock humps, deep-water mud flats and deep submerged wood will all hold fall walleye. Jigs tipped with live bait are always productive by presentation. Jigging spoons and Jigging Raps can also be effective on deep mud flats.
  • Walleye, bluegill, perch and crappie can be caught in Indian Bay during summer and winter. Underwater humps should be drifted in summer for walleye. Tip-ups will produce when spread across the flats and along the river channel. Tip-downs are effective for winter crappie.

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