Wisconsin’s famous Chippewa Flowage, in Sawyer County, is a walleye angler’s paradise. However, it’s also a popular destination for fishermen who pursue other species, as well as pleasure boaters of every kind.
It was created in 1924 to optimize downstream water flow for power generation and flood control, and features more than 200 miles of largely undeveloped shoreline and roughly 200 islands. Because the eastern and western basins have distinctly different topographies, local anglers think of the flowage as two individual lakes separated by County Highway CC.
Fishing guide and Team Northland member Dan Palmer (Dan Palmer’s Guide Service) has spent years aiming clients at walleyes on “The Chip” and surrounding waters, and explains that, during the warm months, he focuses angling efforts on the western basin.
1. From late June into July, Palmer typically fishes weedbeds in 12 feet of water or shallower, making long casts with 1/8-ounce jig-and-plastic combos along the edges, or if growth is sparse enough, right into the bed. “The mouth of any bay or narrows area that opens into the main western basin would be a good starting point,” he says. Try a Fire-Ball® or RZ jigs tipped with a 3-inch Impulse® Paddle Minnow in the emerald shiner pattern, the angler advises, where vegetation tops out anywhere from 1 to 6 feet below the surface.
2. Rocky bars come into play later in July and through August. Use the same jig combos to probe the tops and sides of the humps down to about 18 feet. Also try trolling a Float’n Walleye Crawler Hauler behind a Rock-Runner® Slip Bouncer. “I try to find deep flats—more than 17 feet,” he says, “paying special attention to any type of dip in the contour.”
3. When walleyes move into deeper water in the fall (October and November), Palmer recommends using a two-prong approach. The first is a 3-way rig with a ½-ounce RZ Jig as a dropper. Six inches above the jig he attaches a 3-way swivel to which is tied a 6-foot leader and Gum-Drop Floater head. Both hooks are tipped with a live sucker or creek chub. The follow-up rig is a Fire-Ball® Jig, 1/8 to ¼ ounce, depending on depth and wind velocity, tipped with an Impulse® Jig Crawler in the baby bass pattern. “I pull the 3-way around the edges of deep holes, looking for active fish. When I find them, I sit on ‘em with the vertical jig.
4. Wisconsin’s walleye season opens in early May, and if water levels are high enough and lake ice doesn’t block the way, Palmer heads for the shallows in Moores Bay in the flowage’s northeast corner. Try fishing a Fire-Ball® Jig tipped with a 3-inch Impulse® Smelt Minnow, or a 1/16-ounce parakeet or sunrise Fire-Fly Jig—either plain or tipped with a minnow or half ’crawler. “The key spot is where the Chippewa River dumps into the bay,” he says. “And if it’s deep enough you can go up the river, too. Look for rocks, bait or seagulls eating baitfish in 1 to 6 feet of water. Make a long cast and drag the jig along the bottom.”
Lake maps courtesy of Navionics. For more information, visit: Navionics.com