For decades, the flowage has been highly regarded throughout the Midwest for its spectacular natural scenery and high-quality recreation, especially fishing. Historically, the Chippewa Flowage has been considered a premier muskellunge lake and earned the reputation as the waters that produced the world record musky. It also provides some of the finest walleye fishing in Wisconsin.
The Chippewa Flowage is a world-class fishery in a wilderness-like setting. It is home to the world-record muskellunge — a 69-pound, 11-ounce monster caught by Louis Spray in 1949 and upheld by the Freshwater Fishing Hall of Fame as one of the most well-documented world record fish of all time.
Walleye, black crappie, muskellunge and bluegill are the most popular species among flowage anglers today. DNR fishery management strategies are aimed at optimizing conditions for the reproduction, growth and survival to preferred sizes of these species in particular.
Yellow perch and smallmouth bass add positive elements of diversity to the flowage fishery. Perch numbers are on the rise and the smallmouth fishery has become outstanding in the darker, river-connected waters of the eastern basin. Largemouth bass and northern pike are present in ever-increasing numbers particularly in the clearer, weedier western basin.
Increased numbers of largemouth bass and northern pike may please some anglers, but these predators threaten to reduce the reproductive survival of walleye and muskellunge, respectively. Without moderate to high numbers of walleye to prey upon young pan fish, crappie and bluegill could become too numerous to grow well and achieve the sizes that flowage anglers prefer.
In order to focus on achieving the highest priority objectives for the Chippewa Flowage fishery, DNR fishery biologists urge flowage anglers to harvest (keep) up to their daily limits of legal-size largemouth bass and northern pike. Both are excellent table fare if prepared properly.
In addition, biologists urge restraint in the harvest of walleye and they strongly encourage catch-and-release of muskellunge and smallmouth bass. Anglers may be asked to support more protective length limits for muskies and smallies in the near future.
Anglers wishing to have fun with their children while assembling a good fish fry cannot hurt the fishery by keeping some tasty 6- to 8-inch bluegill, which have become abundant in recent years. Shallow bays attract thousands of spawning bluegill throughout the spring; bluegills are easily caught by drifting worm chunks over sunken bogs throughout the summer.
Black crappies also provide excellent table fare, but evidence suggests these fish can be over-harvested once they reach desirable size (approximately 9 inches). Despite moderate to high numbers of crappie, anglers are urged to abide by the reduced daily bag limit for crappie and to consider keeping only those needed for a good meal or two.
Folks who like to eat fish might also consider keeping some of the abundant, quality-size bullheads that can be caught with worm chunks over sunken bogs. Unlike some southern waters, Chippewa Flowage bullheads taste excellent.
Special regulations are used to protect and enhance certain fish species in the flowage. Because of its unique character and outstanding fishery special size and bag limits help to assure its continued status as one of the best fisheries in the state. Consult the Wisconsin fishing regulations and watch for special regulations posted at the landings.