Recently I had the opportunity to visit a beloved area of Wisconsin that has been a destination of mine for over 13 years. Mercer Wisconsin is this magical place and as always it never seems to disappoint me in all of the beauty and glory that it holds.
Mercer is named the “loon Capital” and it certainly lives up to its name. Mercer is also known for the great fishing that is available around every corner. One such corner is the Turtle Flambeau Flowage.
The TFF, as it’s called, is made up of was created by the damming up of the Turtle River and consist of over 14,000 acres of water. Because this is a flowage it can be very dangerous to those that don’t treat it with extra caution when traveling its waters. Underwater stump fields, huge boulders, and shallow water abound in this rich fishery. All of which can put a huge dent in not only your boat but your wallet if you hit one of them.
Upon my visit I had the pleasure of fishing with Mr. Jeff Robl of Bobbersdown guide service. Jeff specializes in fishing the flowage for walleye and perch and also has been known to find the smallmouth bass that are abundant in these waters. It is not uncommon for Jeff to take clients out and come back with limits of tasty walleye and perch in a matter of hours.
Jeff has been fishing the Flowage for over 30 years and he has an intimate knowledge of the area and what it has to offer. It wasn’t until recently that he took his love of fishing and knowledge of the area and combined them to start his own guiding business. Bobbersdown was born in 2011 and from there it continues to grow by leaps and bounds.
All of Jeff’s gear is top notch. From his 1890Warrior boat outfitted with state-of the art Humminbird side-imaging to the St.Croix rods. Jeff comes well prepared for any conditions and he will often prefer days that other guides would rather not fish in. High winds don’t deter Jeff from fishing as he proved to me the day we ventured out.
Every guide you may encounter has his or her own unique way of fishing a body of water and Jeff is certainly no different. He approaches the Flowage a bit more aggressive than many other guides do as he tends to do a run and gun approach. If a spot that he fishes is not producing shortly after arriving it is time to pick up anchor and head off to another area that will produce. His goal is to not waste time on an unproductive spot and spend more time catching fish.
As the name of his guide service implies Jeff is all about fishing using a slip bobber technique. The presentation is simple yet very effective especially when the fish are in a negative mood. Slip bobbers are rigged up on his St.Croix rods and at the end of the line you will find a couple of beads and a plain Aberdeen hook or a 1/8oz jig. Live bait tips these hooks and depending upon the time of year it could be minnows, crawlers, or leaches.
Using this slip bobber technique allows Jeff to present his clients baits just above the bottom and keep them safe from snagging up too often. This more natural presentation really can put some great fish in the boat. It is really impressive to pull up on a spot and have Jeff tell you to adjust your slip knot up a foot or down 2 feet to match the depth and on your first drift you end up catching a nice walleye.
Now I don’t want to pigeon hole Jeff, he is not just a slip bobber fisherman. He will change up techniques to get the fish in the boat. Another popular method he likes to deploy on these waters is jigging. Jeff prefers a weedless approach and will use a popular Reeves jig that has a fine wire weed guard. This allows the jig to remain relatively snag proof, yet offer a good hooking percentage of fish. The jigs are then tipped with pieces of night crawler or leaches and then worked slowly along the bottom.
Jeff will often run a couple of rods with slip bobbers and leaches and then jig with night crawlers and let the fish tell him what they are looking for. This approach offers his clients the best opportunity at catching large numbers of fish. Casting shad raps is also a favorite approach of his and this is an effective way to cover a lot of water, but it is worth it in the end when it produces some good numbers and quality fish.
One special treatment that you have the opportunity to have when going out with Jeff is a true wilderness experience. Just like in most Canadian lodges, Jeff offers the same experience in Northern Wisconsin. You will see loons, eagles, and osprey and you will also be treated to a tasty shore lunch on one of the many islands. Your catch will be fried over an open fire and then a good helping of fried potatoes and beans are put on the plate with it and you would think you were in heaven. Jeff says “it’s a lot of extra hard work, but it’s worth it”!
The TFF sees a lot of fishing pressure at times during the season, but this doesn’t deter Jeff from putting his clients on fish and quality fish at that. You will often find him out on the water days prior to a trip as he scouts out new areas as well as tried and true areas to make sure that when he gets you out on the boat he is sure to put you on fish.
In today’s hustle and bustle world it seems that we never take some time to stop and enjoy what is around us. Heading out on my trip with Jeff I was able to relax, take in my surroundings and enjoy not only some great fishing, but some great company as well. Mr. Robl doesn’t only talk the talk, but he certainly walks the walk.
The next time you are in the Northern Wisconsin area make sure you stop into Mercer and meet Clair d’loon as well as book a trip with Jeff to get out on the TFF. I know you will certainly not be disappointed and you are sure to go home with a better knowledge of the area and a cooler full of fresh fish.
You can contact Jeff at: firstname.lastname@example.org or 715-776-0140