What lakes in Wisconsin do you consider to be overrated/never live up to the hype?
Most Overrated Lakes in Wisconsin
Didn’t name a lake MFC, so I suppose there is a 1 in 1,500 chance that it’s the lake I fish and would benefit me personally…
Or could it be that I’ve been going up to Vilas for 40 years, and I thought it was so special that I decided to make a life there?
Not trying to be snarky (sincerely), but I think the only answer I could type that you would not disagree with is that Vilas is overrated, and only Minnesota has awesome fishing.
I’m not knocking your fishery, I think it’s awesome too, but I also don’t think it’s the only gig in the country.
I stand by my comments that many Vilas County lakes are truly underrated, you don’t have to agree with me, but that doesn’t make me right and you wrong, or the other way around…
A few more…
I find it interesting that folks don’t always see other’s perspective.
I can fully acknowledge that there is awesome fishing to be had in Wisconsin as well as outside of Wisconsin.
Some of Vilas County’s lakes may be overrated, but many of them are underrated.
These are a few pics from Vilas County Lakes. I’m not going call out a specific lake, as it really doesn’t add much to the conversation - other than they were caught in Vilas County.
I’ve been to Canada with my bud Fishhook, and it was easily the best fishing I’ve ever experienced. However, that doesn’t mean that Vilas County is a desert!
If you pass up the Northwoods and go out of state that is perfectly fine and well, but there are lots of gems you may be overlooking, both scenery and fishery.
With the exception of the smallmouth bass fishing which is very good, I'd say the Madison Chain is overrated. Fished it with my Dad, Grandpa, Uncles since the late 50's and despite virtually no electronics and only a 5 hp motor on a 14 ft tin boat fishing was a way of life if you wanted to eat during the week. Not bringing in limits since back then you could keep 50 panfish per angler but for a family of 5 eating fish 3x a week you made outings count. I simply didn't know of not having success whatever the target was although muskie wasn't ever targeted and today are plentiful in the Chain. True story but as kids my brother and I would climb a tree on the "islands" that USED to be where the yahara went out into Squaw Bay and we would instruct the other wading where bass of at least 20" were swimming and would yell to reel quickly if a mere 18" sized fish came toward the nitecrawler. Ice fishing on Mendota was like a city on ice and the perch didn't disappoint. Swish rods and you caught fish faster back then at least better than any recent time on Mendota. I'm sure others disagree but I truly believe the fishing was better back in my youth and despite my increased knowledge and thousands of $$ invested in electronics hasn't produced vastly superior results but LOTS more versatility and knowledge of structure and of course the ease of getting right back to saved waypoints and working the areas. My one question is what would it have been like to have all the "toys" on my boat today and put them on Dad's 14' boat and the 5hp motor? We may have sunk before reaching shore.....
The muskies here see so many damn lures. Drive down John Nolen Drive on a Saturday morning and you'll see 8 boats on that shoreline alone tossing big lures. As a result of seeing all these lures, the muskies here have gotten smart. Now with the catch and release bass season, the fish here are seeing Jerkbaits and Spinnerbaits from late March to late December.
Since they're so lure-smart, theres days where musky fishing feels more like bird watching, its exciting just to see one.
I think people hype it up because its a good musky lake for southern Wisconsin. I'd take most northern Wisconsin lakes or flowages over the chain here, but for people down in southern WI their choices are drive 3hrs to good musky water, or tough it out with pressured fish. I'll quit my whining and keep toughing it out here.
to OP... any lake on any given day... but I still love to go
Mille lacs isn't overrated. It isn't a numbers lake but you catch big fish. The regulations change weekly there it seems to protect the fishery and no complaints from me. If I only can keep 1 fish a weekend ice fishing, fine by me. I have no problem throwing back 25" fish cause their in a slot. If the game hogs don't like it, go to the grocery store then and take some pressure off the resources so others can enjoy it.
So goes life. What Vilas County was is currently happening to the lakes I fish in northern Minnesota. That said for the time being what I can do in two days in Minnesota whether walleyes or brown carp...well the past,current, and future clientele at plum lake wouldn't be able to shake a stick at that.
My family has had a place on high since the 70s. I know Vilas well, it currently sucks. Literally the only thing worse than the walleye fishing is what Coontails passes off as a dozen minnows. The DNR should stock drum for fish fries before the rock bass are depleted.
In regard to Vilas County Lakes in general both outfishin and Brent have some good points. Outfishin is like me in that he grew up in Vilas County and has seen the shift occur over the years in both pressure and quantity of accessible big fish. I'm a little older than outfishin, so my big musky/walleye experience in regard to what we saw/caught goes back even a few more years than his experience (and I saw declines from when I started to the time period outfishin is referencing). Brent is correct in that there is still great fishing to be had in various locales up there. I can still put good fish in the boat, but it is not as "easy" as 25 years ago.
For the fun of it, I went back in my records (mid-80's to present) and summed up the # of lakes we caught 50" muskies or 30"+ walleyes. This summation includes 21 lakes that we fished often (19 in Vilas, 2 in Oneida). These are records from me and a handful of college buds I got hooked on my style of fishing.
50" or better Muskies caught - 10 lakes of the 21. One of these lakes was even a "numbers" lake, not known for big fish. We fished it "non-textbook" and one of my friends caught a 50"er in there. Most people we told didn't believe that, but it happened.
25 lb or better muskies (45-49" fish) - all 21 lakes
52-54" or better muskies - 5 lakes. 4 fish landed between 52-54. 2 others lost after being hooked and seen, including the biggest musky I ever had on my line - bigger than the 56"+ fish I caught on GB. This number doesn't include the fish that hit/were hooked briefly but we didn't see, the ones that broke our rods or snapped crankbaits in half, ripped the diving lip out, etc.
30"+ walleyes - 7 lakes. On a few of these lakes we would talk to people at the landing and they would call the particular lake a "biological desert" for walleyes. Then we would show them the pictures of what we caught....but fishing completely differently than they were. Biggest walleye caught by one of my friends was pushing 34", weighed and released. I personally have 2 at 32". Most of my friends who musky fish with me have caught a 30" walleye in Vilas.
Why have things changed? A number of factors IMO....
Spearing (too many big fish taken/unit time and not effectively replaced), backtrolling in early '90s (many big fish kept by clients per my taxidermist friends - some of these trophy numbers never replenished for various reasons), stocking and brood stock acquisition changes, genetics, pressure (many more people out now compared to 20-30 years ago).