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Lake Information for Chippewa Flowage


The Chippewa Flowage, a 15,300-acre impoundment, is located in central Sawyer County, 15 miles east of Hayward. It is also known as Lake Chippewa.

First filled in 1924, the "Big Chip" was created as a means to augment downstream water flow for power generation and flood control. Dotted with approximately 200 undeveloped islands, it is Wisconsin's third-largest lake and boasts a highly irregular, wooded, and generally undeveloped 233-mile shoreline. Although Xcel Energy still owns and maintains the dam which creates the Chippewa Flowage, the Lac Courte Oreilles (LCO) Band of Lake Superior Chippewa operates an electrical power generation facility at the dam on the Chippewa River near Winter, Wisconsin.

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 Flowage offers a fishing experience generally found only on lakes farther north in Minnesota or Canada. Its seemingly endless maze of islands, points, bays, floating bogs and channels offers visitors numerous opportunities for exploration, discovery and a feeling of wildness within the northern forest landscape. Camping at one of the primitive island campsites is an opportunity not common in Wisconsin. Visitors rate the natural scenery, undeveloped "wild" character, "uncrowded" atmosphere and the fine fishing as the Flowage's outstanding attributes.

Facilities and Parks: 

The Chippewa Flowage is located in central Sawyer County in northwestern Wisconsin. Access from the south is via either State Highway 27 & 77 and Sawyer County Highway CC or from the north via Sawyer County Highway B and CC. Access points are off County Highway CC in the central portion of the property, County Highway B on the north, or via County Highway G and Dam Road on the southeast side. The property office is located on Highway 27 at the DNR Service Center in Hayward.

Fishing Description: 

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.

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.

Largemouth Bass
Smallmouth Bass
Catfish Family
Optional Information
Surface area: 
Chippewa Flowage
Lake type: 

Businesses Located Nearby

Bait & Tackle

    Jenks Bait & Tackle
  • 11050 W County Road B - Hayward, WI
  • (715) 462-3055

Boat Rental

    Mel's Outdoor Power
  • 10908 W County Road B - Hayward, WI
  • (715) 462-3124

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