By Margie Anderson
Fall is the perfect time of year to visit northern Wisconsin.
Itís easy to imagine how the pioneers must have felt when
they visited Sawyer County because the hardwood forests go on
and on, and the natural beauty of the land seems almost
By the end of September, the leaves are just about in full
color, and itís hard to imagine anything more beautiful than
One of the other main attractions of Sawyer County (located
in north central Wisconsin) is the Chippewa Flowage.
The Flowage is basically a gigantic 15,300-acre reservoir
formed by the damming of the Chippewa River at Winter, Wisconsin
in 1924. There are about 233 miles of mostly forested shoreline,
nearly 200 islands.
The first time I visited there and heard about the "floating
islands," I was naturally skeptical. But, itís true: The Flowage
is dotted with floating bogs that meander slowly about.
Once, a really big one floated into a bridge and blocked
access to a big arm of the Flowage. People were in quite a tizzy
trying to figure out how to break it up or move it away. The
problem took care of itself when the wind shifted and the bog
took itself off.
Northern Wisconsin offers fishing for a wide range of species
including crappie, largemouth and smallmouth bass, perch,
bluegills, catfish, northern pike, and muskies. Muskies are
definitely king: Just about every place you visit in northern
Wisconsin has a big chart listing the yearís biggest musky
It helps that there are lakes and rivers everywhere, each one
just full of fish. The smallmouth bass fishing in particular is
outstanding, maybe because all the locals are after muskies all
With everyone in Wisconsin so musky-mad, itís no surprise
that there is a 1.5-block long, 4.5-story musky in Hayward, Wis.
This giant musky building is one of the main features of the
National Freshwater Fishing Hall of Fame. Since 1960, the hall
has collected and recognized fishing records, but itís much more
The museum itself is on six acres donated by the town of
Hayward and offers 25,000 square feet of displays. You can see
400 fish mounts, 300 classic and antique motors, and 5,000
One of my favorite displays is the motors: Thereís one in
there that is like an egg beater. You crank the handle to turn
gears that rotate the prop! I could just see myself fishing
while John cranks that motor.
There are tons of displays and photos of record catches, as
well as photos and bios of famous anglers whoíve been initiated
into the Hall of Fame. Itís a wonderful place to visit.
Besides the giant musky there are other huge fish models on
the grounds. You can stand in a row boat and have your photo
taken as you battle a 20-foot bluegill.
It only cost $21 for four of us to get in. Stop in the
Hayward Visitor Center first, and you can get pamphlets that
include a dollar-off coupon.
While youíre in Hayward, be sure you visit the Moccasin Bar.
Itís on the corner near the Visitor Center. Inside youíll find
an array of fish and wildlife mounts that will absolutely
astound you. It is truly a one-of-a-kind display.
For more information on Hayward, Wis., visit
www.haywardareachamber.com and the National Freshwater
Fishing Hall of Fame: www.freshwater-fishing.org.