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Fishing Story Ideas

For additional information or to arrange an interview, please contact Andy Albarado, Rusk County Tourism, aalbarado@ruskcountywi.us, (715) 829-6751 (cell)


Rusk County fishing background

Rusk County is one of Wisconsin's finest and most affordable fishing destinations. Located within easy driving distance of major population centers, the county is home to four beautiful & wild rivers - the Flambeau, Chippewa, Rusk & Thornapple. It also boasts more than 200,000 acres of public hunting land and 250-plus lakes and flowages. The fisheries are diverse, the wildlife habitat is excellent and the recreational opportunities numerous. For the angler or hunter who is serious about his outdoor endeavors, Rusk County is an outstanding choice.

Here's a sample of what's happening in Rusk County

  • A big spot for smallies: smallmouth bass fishing in Rusk County

The word is getting out: Rusk County is one of the best places in the Midwest to fish for smallmouth bass. See firsthand why the fishing for smallies here is so good. NOTE: local smallmouth bass guides will be on hand at the opener to share their perspectives.

Here are a few reasons why Rusk County's smallmouth bass fishing stands out.

  • The Flambeau River - This complex river offers whitewater, slow meandering stretches, wide pools and huge reservoirs, with smallies in every type of habitat.
  • The Jump River - This wild river should be a top destination for the smallmouth angler who likes to get out of the boat and wade for feisty smallies.
  • Dairyland Reservoir - This flowage on the Flambeau River is home to some lunker smallmouth bass.
  • Chippewa River - Like the Flambeau River, the Chippewa offers a diverse fishery. Look for the biggest smallies in the Chippewa River's wide, deep bends.
  • A Chance to Find New Water - With so many river systems to explore, the intrepid bass hunter will find ample opportunity to fish waters that have received little or no pressure.
  • Numbers and Size - Anglers fishing Rusk County will find both large fish as well as large numbers of fish. There's just something about the water in Rusk County that's good for growing lots of big, fat smallies.


  • Success stories: the Rusk County Wildlife Restoration Association

For more than 30 years, this local association has worked to improve the quality of Rusk County fisheries with a series of conservation projects. Their work has paid off: the county is now known widely for its outstanding fishing, NOTE: A representative of the association will be on hand at the opener to share what has worked and what lessons other fisheries can take away from their experience.


  • A fishing destination: Lake Holcome

This 4,300-acre lake on the southern edge of Rusk County is one of the region's best fisheries. Driving distance from major population centers like the Twin Cities, the flowage is formed by the Holcome Dam and sourced by the Chippewa, Jump & Flambeau Rivers. It's renowned for its smallmouth bass fishing, with anglers often catching 40-50 fish per day. NOTE: Local guides who know these outstanding waters will be on hand at the opener to share their experiences.

Here are some reasons why Lake Holcombe is one of Wisconsin's top fishing lakes.

  1. It's huge: Lake Holcombe offers 4,300 acres of prime fishing waters
  2. Miles and miles of shoreline: Anglers can cast along more than 130 miles of meandering shoreline
  3. Unbelievable smallmouth bass fishing: Some huge smallmouth bass lurk in these waters
  4. Many muskies: Lake Holcombe boasts a healthy population of muskellunge
  5. Diverse fishery: Walleye, crappie, bluegill and perch can be found in the lake's many weedbeds.
  6. Surprises galore: Channel catfish and lake sturgeon call these fertile waters home. Anglers never know what they'll tie into on Lake Holcombe


  • Fishing power: how an electric cooperative has improved fishing on Lake Flambeau.

The Dairyland Power Cooperative operates a major electric dam on the flowage that has been operating since 1951. Today it's helping with ongoing stewardship efforts to ensure the flowage remains an outstanding fishery. See firsthand what it's like to fish the Flambeau. NOTE: A Dairyland biologist or representative will be on hand at the opener to detail what they've done.


A one-of-a-kind Rusk County Museum

Old plows never die. They just go to Ladysmith, Wisconsin.

That's the home of Wisconsin's Plow Museum, also known as Ed's Machine Shed. The museum, located in Ladysmith Wisconsin, is a labor of love of Ladysmith resident Ed Tomasovich, who travels the upper Midwest in search of long-forgotten McCormick-Deering, Oliver, La Crosse, John Deere and International Harvester plows manufactured from 1915-1955.

"I try to have a lot of variation here," says Tomasovich, who meticulously restores plows to showroom condition.

Tomasovich's collection includes a dozen carefully restored International Harvester plows, including an International Harvester Model 2 Little Wonder Two Bottom with Scotch Bottoms.

Tomasovich does not believe in fast, cosmetic restorations; he carefully dismantles each plow, piece by piece and hand-sands the metal before reassembling with new paint.

Tomasovich did not intend to be a curator of this unique museum. He began restoring old plows as a hobby - he's loved plows since working the family dairy farm 70- years ago. His father purchased his first tractor and plow in 1941 and when
Tomasovich was about 10 he was allowed to take the wheel.

There was something about the smell of the soil and seeing the earth turn over that captivated Tomasovich. He collected and restored more and more plows, attending classic steam and gas tractor shows on summer weekends.

Over time, Tomasovich's collection of plows grew quite large - he currently has amassed more than 40 plows - and he donated the collection to the Rusk County Historical Society.

"I have a lot of enthusiasm for these," says Tomasovich, who presides over the museum, a red 4,200-square-foot machine shed at the Rusk County Fairgrounds. Rusk County was once an epicenter of logging activity, in part because of the four rivers that pass through the county. The plow museum is located near the Flambeau River, which once floated scores of logs to market.

As the logging industry declined, farmers moved into the cleared land. They carved a living with the very plows that Tomasovich now displays. While Tomasovich travels hundreds of miles to collect pieces, many are from Rusk County, where the museum is located.

Visitors to the Museum, Tomasovich says, are struck, by the numerous types and variety of plows on display.

He said he enjoys seeing people get excited about the collection.

"It's nice to see," he said.

Thanks to Tomasovich's labor, the plows look as if they've never turned soil. They won't again, because they've arrived in what might be plow heaven.


How to visit

The museum is located at the Rusk County Fairgrounds, 98 E. 3rd St. N. Ladysmith, WI 54848. It's open weekends, May ­ September Friday, Saturday and Sunday from 10:30 a.m. - 4 p.m. Call Ed ahead of time at 715-532-5777 to arrange a tour - he's more than happy to show you around. The museum is free to enter, although donations are accepted. The museum is handicapped accessible. To learn more about the museum and visiting Rusk County, visit www.ruskcountywi.com