Musky Shop Northwoods Lake of the Month: Pelican Lake

Musky Shop Northwoods Lake of the Month: Pelican Lake

Jodie Paul August 18, 2023

As many of the Northern Wisconsin Lake enthusiasts may not be impressed by the “drop in the bucket” size of a lot of our lake highlights, we’ll take this opportunity to switch gears and point Northwoods travelers to a real behemoth in our state: Pelican Lake.  This lake is a monster compared to the typical watering hole and can be somewhat of a head scratcher when it comes to how and where to get started.  Named after the local population of American White Pelicans, Pelican Lake is an enchanting and abundant place for not only muskies, but pike, walleye, and panfish, if you have a stable watercraft and a lot of time on your hands.

Pelican Lake is a 3585-acre lake with a small dam at its Northern end used to feed the Pelican River.  Though the maximum depth of Pelican Lake is 39 feet, don’t let this fool you.  Despite its size, the abundance of shallow weeds, outcropping points, and rocky reefs, give anglers plenty of trophy musky stomping grounds to pursue.  Pelican is a low-clarity lake with a sandy, mucky bottom, so it’s great for targeting less spooky muskies and utilizing a wide range of technics and lure varieties.  From topwater to rubber, each lure has its place when fishing Pelican.

If you decide to target Pelican, it’s highly recommended that you take a large group or family as you will be seeking out and targeting large swaths of fishy territory.  The lake is wide and very weather susceptible.  Where some of the smaller lakes don’t get rocked as much by severe weather changes, this isn’t true on Pelican.  Wind, pressure changes, and other not-so-fish-friendly factors can really play to ruin a day on Pelican, so it’s best to attack with a large arsenal.  Look for muskies on the shallow and deep parts of lake points and make your way (carefully) over rocky reefs and humps.  Choose dark colors and striking color patterns to stand out in the darker water and don’t be afraid to pepper shallow bays with topwater.

If you’re staying in the area, there are great campgrounds on Pelican Lake.  Weaver’s Campground and Pelican Lake Campground are excellent places for those traveling through.  Both have boat docks, water, and electricity for convenience. For those not intending to stay over, Pelican Lake has no less than 5 boat ramps to get you on the water; however, one is only for those who are launching canoes.  The motor boat launches are in all cardinal directions on the lake to make it easy for boaters to come in from any direction.

A note to interested anglers, the Wisconsin DNR discontinued their stocking efforts on Pelican Lake in the late 90’s so this lake is currently begin populated by the natural spawn.  By giving Pelican the time it needs to naturalize, we would no longer consider it a numbers lake, but though the numbers are turning up, the trophies are.  This lake is still a great producer of fish in the upper 40s.  Though it might be a grind the rewards are worth the headache.  So, if you find yourself in the Northwoods and you are looking for a big water challenge, take a trip to Pelican Lake.  It’s got a lot of water to cover, a good bit of bi-catch for the youngsters, and like most of the Northwoods, amazing sunsets!