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Manitowish River in Wisconsin

Trip Overview

Manitiwish River into the Turtle Flambeau Flowage

Solo Canoe trip in a Wenonah Vagabond

(Primary purpose was fishing)

I used Hawk's Nest outfitters located on Highway 51 between Manitowish Waters and Mercer, WI for my shuttle and I put in at Hawk's Nest on the Manitowish River. My truck was shuttled too Murray's Landing on the Turtle - Flambeau Flowage. I traveled approximately 22 river miles from the put in to the flowage. I camped one night on the river. There are designated campsites on the river and throughout the flowage that are free and first-come first-serve. All campsites have a fire ring and pit toilet and some have picnic tables.

The river was slow and meandering with mostly a sand bottom. Little to no signs of civilization along the river, except some highway noise when close to roads and one bridge. On the river fishing for smallmouth bass was good using artificials. Bass were nice sized and very healthy. Northern pike was spotty and the pike were a bit small. I did hook one nice sized musky (about 36 inches) but failed to boat it.

As the river approaches the flowage, the river widens into a wide and fairly dense wild rice and weed bed. Through here it is difficult to find the channel but not a major concern. Once on the flowage (the river enters at Murray's Landing) paddling is flatwater. In places the flowage is wide and open water and in others it is many small fingers and channels.

The northeast section of the flowage is designated as a "quiet" zone. As such, the few other watercraft I saw were primarily canoes and kayaks. I did see a couple of motor boats, and they were observing the quiet zone and running a lower speed. Fresh water is only available at Springstead Landing however, I filtered lake and river water and suffered no ill effects.

Fishing on the flowage for smallmouth was good with fish slightly larger than those caught on the river. Northern pike on the flowage were abundant but again size was small with the largest I caught being only 30 inches. I caught no walleye (a species the flowage is noted for) however, I was not concentrating on them. I threw only artificials and mostly top water lures.

Campsites were well spaced out and I had no trouble finding one that was not occupied. Wildlife (deer, beaver, eagles, loons, and other waterfowl) was abundant. The flowage is a large and very diverse body of water with miles of shore line and over 195 islands. It was a very peaceful and serene solo experience that I would highly recommend to anyone wanting to do some fishing and paddling with no portages.


Hawk's Nest outfitters were used for shuttle service and as a put-in.


Wenonah Vagabond


No fees or permits required


From southern Wisconsin take I-39 North (thru Wausau) to Route 51 and Route 51 north to Mercer.


Fishing map of the Turtle - Flambeau Flowage available at any local fishing store

  • Duration: Extended Trip
  • Sport/Activity: Kayaking, Canoeing
  • Skill Level: Beginner
  • Water Type: River/Creek (Up to Class II)
  • Group Rates: No

Locations on this Trip