Musky Shop Northwoods Lake of the Month: Sugarbush Chain

Musky Shop Northwoods Lake of the Month: Sugarbush Chain

February 12, 2024

If you’re on the search for a productive chain of lakes this winter for some solid ice fishing, look no further than the Sugarbush Chain.  There are plenty of lake chains in the Northwoods that feature all types of fish including the elusive musky, but sometimes when searching for a winter hole to park your bucket, the larger chains are not always the best bet.  The small Sugar Bush Lake Chain is the answer to all your needs – right here in Vilas County.

The Sugarbush Chain of Lakes consists of four bodies of water.  Lower Sugarbush, Middle Sugarbush, Middle Sugarbush, and Little Sugarbush.  This chain, located just east of the much larger Flambeau Flowage, has a healthy aquatic environment suited for all of the favorite area species.  Great success can be found when fishing for walleye, crappie, and pike.  The entire chain does not disappoint.  It also has a good population of musky; however, it’s not easily accessible to larger boats requiring well-manicured launches.

The Sugarbush Chain is uniquely suited for anglers looking for laid-back and collectively more “chill” bodies of water to park their rods.  In the summer, this chain of lakes attracts small manual watercraft such as rowboats and kayaks as the downsized waterways are easily navigated by paddles.  For this reason, getting out on any of the Sugarbush Lakes can be much better suited for ice fishing fare as no launch is required, only a sled and your feet.

Starting with Lower Sugarbush Lake, this lake is crystal clear with 180 navigable acres of water.  As mentioned, it holds all species of target fish and has recently been surveyed, along with Middle Sugarbush, by the DNR, which found that its fish and aquatic conditions are currently reported as excellent.  Its deepest point is 61 feet, but on average boasts 23 feet deep.  It has a great mixed bottom of gravel, rock, sand, and muck, creating a feature-filled bottom with lots of locals for schooling and solo fish.

Middle Sugarbush Lake makes up the largest of the small chain, holding 254 acres of water.  The bottom composition and overall depth are much the same as Lower Sugarbush with a mixed bottom drawing all species of fish.  Both Middle and Lower Sugarbush offer an easily understood bottom with gradually lowering sides into deeper bowl middles.  There’s not much to understand on either lake, except the choice depth is preferred by your target fish based on current weather conditions.

Upper Sugarbush Lake is the only lake of the four with a noted boat launch.  Upper Sugarbush is less deep than its counterparts, with only a max of 29 feet.  Its bottom composition is more evenly spread as well, between sand, gravel, and muck. However, this lake is much the same with evenly sloping shallows falling into deeper holes, though the holes just don’t end up quite as deep.

Little Sugarbush Lake is the tiny cousin of the chain that prefers to do his own thing.  Little Sugarbush is a 46-acre blip in the surrounding wilds of the Northwoods.  Because of its size, it’s nearly considered a pond.  This small lake is spring-fed and has a sandy and mucky bottom.  Despite being the smallest, it’s still jam-packed with a steady population of fish.  Access is limited, but almost anything can be accomplished by anglers if they’re on foot.  Despite its small size, this lake has a good depth of 26 feet in the deepest holes, so it has plenty of perfect depth increments for any day depending on the weather.

All of the lakes in the Sugarbush System are highly recommended for those who want a bit of quiet and relaxation out on the water.  This is a great area for all seasons, hosting a great variety of species in an easily navigable waterway.  I don’t recommend showing up this summer with your pontoon, but for kayakers, small johns, and row boats, Sugarbush is a great place to land.  For Ice fishing, you can call before heading out for the day and Musky Shop will be happy to point you to the successful depths and what fish food is popular on the clear lakes in current conditions.

Outside of the chain, as is typical in the Northwoods, you will find plenty to do whether it’s enjoying the outdoors or visiting the tiny strings of small towns that dot the surrounding highways.  The Northwoods of Wisconsin this time of year is magically serene and beauty abounds, so whether you’re fishing on the Sugarbush Chain or holed up in a local “mom and pop” watering hole on Fish Fry Friday, you’re in for a great time in the Northwoods of Wisconsin.