Pike Chain is Outstanding Northwoods Option

By Ted Peck - September 1, 2011
Minocqua, Eagle River and Hayward (Wisconsin) are no longer the fishing destinations I knew as a kid or even as my kids fell in love with back in the 1980's. All of these tourist meccas have morphed into little more than the Wisconsin Dells with loons-- some zipping around in SUV's with out of state license tags.

It is difficult to venture far from the beaten path when this travel route is concrete and two lanes wide in both directions. But there are still a few special places where cloistered lakes reflect birch and balsam sentinels with minimum impact from human interlopers in Wisconsin's north country.

The Pike Chain just south of Iron River is such a place, for several different reasons. Like many northern lakes, timber around the Pike chain was logged off in the 1880's. Thousands of acres here were controlled by just two families which built palatial homes at essentially opposite ends of these six interconnected lakes just south of Lake Superior.

Hall's Resort opened around 1920, providing access for anglers via a one lane sand road coursing south from Iron River. It is now called "The Spot", a supper club and three cabin resort where young Josh Teigen cooks prime rib slabs of minivan dimensions which take a hungry appetite beyond mouth watering to the verge of giddy drool.

Teigen's dream is to eventually quit his evening day job and work full time as a fishing guide on the Pike chain and lakes across the North Country. Two days in his boat last month convinced me this 19-year-old has the "right stuff" to realize his dream-in spades.

There are still one or two kids in every Wisconsin high school who find a passion for the outdoors which borders on obsession. Kids with this reputation who grow up in small northern Wisconsin towns where hunting and fishing are major pastimes for all are the SEAL Team 6 of fishing's next generation. Teigen could easily be their commander.

His passion of passions is muskie fishing. Many toothy critters of substantial dimensions have felt his hooks on the crystal clear waters of the Pike Lake chain. But when skies are clear and winds are calm Teigen knows slab crappies and too-eager bass are more productive piscatory paths to travel.

Teigen's waterfront home is only a short boat ride from any point on these lakes, including galley duty at The Spot. Other folks who come here seeking fish must launch their watercraft at one of just two access points-a downside in today's run-and-gun world.

Back in the mid-1980's rusty crayfish appeared in the Pike chain and decimated vegetation, resulting in tough fishing for awhile. With no place to hide, smallmouth bass jumped on the crayfish hard, growing large and fat in the process.

But relatively few anglers visited these waters to cash in on the bounty. This trend continues today, even though the crayfish crisis has past and weed growth has returned. Some of this vegetation is undesirable Eurasian milfoil which the lake association has under control.

The Pike Lake Chain provides a unique opportunity to step back in time, away from the maddening crowd. It is a place where you can enjoy the ambience of a classic Wisconsin supper club, then mosey on down to the water and chase muskies, bass or panfish.

All the loons have feathers here, and the music they provide is the same tune played when grandpa was a kid.

Contact: Josh Teigen; (715) 813-0575, The Spot (715) 372-4730.

Author Ted Peck
Ted Peck
Cap'n Ted Peck has over 30 yrs. guiding experience, specializing in multi-species fishing on Pool 9-10 of the Mississippi from Genoa, Wi. to Prairie du Chien. Cap'n Ted is a pro staffer for Lund, Northland Tackle, MinnKota, Bill Lewis Lures, Evinrude, Uncle Josh, HT Enterprises and Custom Jigs & Spins. When not guiding Cap'n Ted communicates the outdoors experience via newspapers, magazines, TV, radio and through seminars. This work has taken him all over the midwest, Canada and beyond... but he always returns to the upper Mississippi which he considers the most diverse fishery in North America. Click here for more info on Ted's guide service. Cap'n Ted's new book Mississippi Musings with the Old Guide is a personal account of his long career as a professional fishing guide on Old Man River.