Musky Shop Lake of the Month: Crab Lake

Musky Shop Lake of the Month: Crab Lake

Jodie Paul February 20, 2023

Sharing is caring when it comes to helping newcomers and tourists enjoy the beauty of the North Woods, which you’ll understand means a lot when it comes to this months lake.  We are talking about none other than, Crab Lake.  Many locals might tell you they resent this lake, or debate whether or not a cantankerous old fisherman has cursed its waters, but that’s a story for another day.  Crab Lake is truly a lovely lake tucked up near the Michigan border, and whether you love it or hate it, it does hold some truly gigantic muskies.

Starting with the specs, Crab Lake in Vilas County holds a whopping 909 acres of water.  It’s generally a clear lake with a sand and gravel bottom reaching depths of up to 60 feet.  Because of its good visibility, you can sneak out on a bright day and really get some use out of your Topwater collections for season opener and again in the fall.  Crab Lake has a modicum of vegetation to throw toward but the truly unique and devastating features are the rock piles and reefs. 

Crab lake offers steep rock piles that can grind off a skeg, tank a lower unit, and skuttle a deep V; but if you take it slow and do the map work on idle, you can find a good deal of structure that will give up a monster.  The most common saying surrounding Crab Lake seems to be, “I wouldn’t risk my boat, but we can take yours”.  I highly recommend a john boat scouting trip with just a trolling motor for those who plan to stay a while.  If you plan on choosing Crab Lake for a day trip, well I recommend you turn around and go on home. 

If you do get your bunks wet on Crab, the North side does have a public access ramp, though it’s still believed to be gravel.  It is a safe launch and it is recommended to immediately stick to idle or troll as you leave the landing.  Make sure all of your sonar is functional giving you ample time to adjust to shallow outcroppings, they sneak up on you fast.  The oddly snaking rocks can give great cover for a stalking musky so don’t be afraid to cast into open water on Crab, sticking to the shore line is not going to deliver all the best bites.

The steepest rises are a good place to drag jig along, use topwater, or try a shallow glider.  Clear water on clear days will like darker colors with small amount of flash.  Word has it that the fish in Crab prefer black, so no need to get too adventurous.  There are many other good species to target on Crab, so if you aren’t up for dragging a muskie, don’t forget your smaller tackle.

If you do find yourself headed in the direction of Crab Lake, but you want to try some other adventures, right next door is Van Vliet Hemlocks State Natural Area.  Van Vliet offers some lovely hiking trails suitable for all levels of adventurers and pets.  This area features old growth hemlocks surrounded by well-marked trails so you always have good footing. If you are looking to stay in the area, there are nice resort-style accommodations like Alpine Resort, plenty of cabin rentals, and nice places to eat and drink in Presque Isle just to the North.  As always, if you came for the wilderness, it is a beautiful area, and offers more of the Northwoods nature vistas we love.