Musky Shop Lake of the Month: Long Lake

Musky Shop Lake of the Month: Long Lake

Jodie Paul November 14, 2022

This month’s lake is surrounded by better known, more loved fishing spots, but Long Lake of Vilas County has our underdog vote, with pristine lake vibes.  Long Lake near Phelps is sandwiched between North Twin and Big Sand Lake near the Wisconsin and Michigan border.  Snug in the middle doesn’t lead to a lot of luxurious resorts, but you will find a nice relaxing cottage or two, with plenty of quiet fishing to make up for the lack of grocery stores.

Long Lake is an 886-acre lake with a max depth of around 88 feet.  Water within the lake is moderately clear and it holds a long list of species from walleye to lake trout, but distinctly trophy size muskies.  The lake itself is classified by the DNR as mesotrophic, placing it in the middle of lake classes for Wisconsin.  It has a medium amount of plant life and minerals, and a deep bowl shape that carries dissolved oxygen down a little deeper than other lakes. 

Since the 90’s, Long Lake has had an interesting run in with an invasive smelt population, which wreaked havoc on a lot of the favorite Wisconsin bi-catch.  Since learning of the smelt issue, the lake has been stocked, and restocked with predatory fish to help reduce the levels and reclaim some territory for the beloved walleye and cisco population.  Fishing reports show that the lake was stocked in 2013, 2015 and again in 2017 with musky, giving them plenty of time to grow and thrive on a diet of tasty smelt.

According to local fisherman, targeting musky can be difficult in long lake, but this is another instance of putting in the time and dedication if you want to catch monsters.  The musky in Long Lake have been left to grow uninhibited, so you will be chasing the big boys, but definitely not numbers.  Long Lake occasionally gives up a great over 50” fish, but you have to find their playground.  The lake has a deep interior with a thin littoral zone along the entirety of the lake, and a bit more vegetation at the Southern end. 

Due to its length, there is fortunately a public boat launch at either end to help you cover water, though the Northern Launch is a little more user friendly and well maintained.  Because of its layout and shape, Long Lake is a great opportunity for some deeper edge trolling.  Shoreline casting is great off many rounded points on the lake, but the opportunity for regular 15 ft elongated passes is an offer you can’t refuse.  As the lake itself is quite clear, it’s another opportunity for fishing natural colors.  Because silver smelt, walleye, and cisco are present, that might be a good place to start.  Be sure to check the trolling regulations prior to making the effort.

While you find yourself in the region of Long Lake, after a long day of fishing, take some time to stop in at Sand Lake Pub off State Rd 17 for some great drinks and eats.  Also, if you aren’t in the mood to fish, The Wilderness Reserve, nearby, accommodates travelers that are interested in outdoor guided hunting activities.  This area of the North Woods really excels at giving ample natural space to keep you occupied for days, weeks or years!  You can drive down into the small town of Phelps for more to do or to keep yourself fed.

Above: The Wilderness Reserve

While Long Lake doesn’t offer the numbers you might wish for during a musky fishing weekend, it definitely offers a litany of beautiful quiet vistas that will relax your mind, while searching for the trophy of your dreams.  Nearby lakes have more to offer if you don’t find what you are looking for here, but give it a look and let us know what you find!