Fly Fishing Wisconsin’s Namekagon River for Big Smallmouth


On my most recent cross country trip to Oregon (last video on Glacier Park) my wife Vickie and I set our GPS for Hayward, Wisconsin and the home of the Namekagon River. If you have followed me for a while then you know that this is one of my most favorite haunts; a river that is as luring as it black/tannic waters.
Namekagon RiverHere is the bottom line, you aren’t going to catch hundreds of smallies on the Namekagon…but the fish you do catch, they might just be the best fish of your life. Evidenced by my very first smallmouth. Just a few minutes below my put in point at Groat Landing I made a cast across the pool and allowed my Sugar Creek Shiner to swing down and through the rapids. Without even thinking my rod hand went high and I had hooked up with my fist fish…a chunky 16 incher that would put up a fight worthy of a Mike Tyson bout….well, just watch the video (below).

My two days on the Namekagon were nothing short of spectacular; I fished and enjoyed three jaunts downstream towards Trego, which was our home base for camping. The river system is so well marked and there are so many points or landings that you can choose any mileage you would like to travel. Over my three trips I traveled about 15 miles and landed about as many big, chunky smallies.
Map of Namekagon River areaLastly, if you go…you must make the trip into Hayward and visit my buddy Larry at The Hayward Fly Fishing Company. Larry will put you on the right fly and if you need help, or a guide…he or one of the others will ‘drift’ you down the “Old black water” for smallmouth or musky come the fall. I must add this…I am in and out of lots of fly shops each year. Let’s be honest, some are of no help as they are self-serving and don’t want to share any ‘secrets’; Larry will tell it to you just like it is and will give you as much help as he possibly can.

Oh, and one more one more….make a trip a couple blocks from the fly shop and just a stone’s throw from the giant musky…and grab a piece of pie from the Norske Nook. This restaurant has great food and frankly, the pie is to die for! As for favorite pie…nope, won’t go there, love them all!

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