Fun Fishing in Mercer, Wisconsin

– September 2, 3, 4, 2016 –for Kids and Adults
– Can-Yak Contest Offers Big Fish, Big Prizes, Big Kayak Fun
– Free Outdoor Trade Show for All
– Eagles, Loons, Deer, Turkey, Lots of Wildlife


If you have ever wanted to find a place to fish for just-the-fun-of-it and catch bass to 6-pounds, crappie to 2 pounds, musky, and several other species, than read on and make a reservation for this weekend at the Great Northern Hotel in Mercer, Wisconsin. It’s low cost, has huge rooms, has a view of this fish-filled lake with access for casting and the hotel offers a tasty kitchen menu, full bar with a relaxing atmosphere and I found a rejuvenating spirit for life in the outdoors here. It’s a great 3-day stopover.

A few friends and I visited Mercer, Wisconsin, in spring this year. It was a trip where I met my first Loon, face-to-face! No kidding. This mama Loon and her hubby had built a nest about 10 feet from shore and they provided morning calls, afternoon discussions and evening lullabies in fully audible Loon Talk Language, that all of us enjoyed immeasurably.

Black crappie can provide fun for all ages in the lake right behind the Great Northern Hotel in Mercer, Wisconsin.

Love fishing? Love paddling? Love to have fun and win prizes? This weekend, you can do that in Mercer! Finally there’s an event that combines the growing love of canoes, kayaks and fishing located right in one of Wisconsin’s Favorite Outdoor Playgrounds in the quaint village of Mercer.

Mercer is home to the famous Turtle-Flambeau Flowage Scenic Waters Area, as well as boasting 214 other lakes in a 30-mile radius. There’s plenty of room for anglers and plenty of fish to catch.

Just to sweeten the deal for visitors this weekend, there is a free fishing and paddling outdoor expo open for the public on Saturday, September 3, 2016, so visitors can see the latest and greatest that manufacturers have to offer, demos and workshops by experts who can teach how to get the most out of your gear, build your own cardboard Can-Yak contest, celebrity campfire cook-off challenge and more! The next day, Sunday, September 4, 2016, promises to be quite entertaining with final fishing day followed by an awards banquet, raffles, drawings and live music that is all open to the public too!

When you register, the registration fee includes the fishing tournament, commemorative t-shirt, outdoor expo with demonstrations and workshops, contests, games and more, awards banquet and music. Details: $40 per person before August 15th, $50 after, Teams of 2+ receive 5% discount, Children under 12 only $20, All children 18 and under must be accompanied by an adult.

To review the rules and register, read on or click here:

Get your friends to join you this year and earn $5 for each registered person that you refer. Registration referrals received by August 15, 2016 will receive cash back on day of registration. Registration referrals after 8/15/16 will be reimbursed within one week after the even (referrals are for new people that did not participate in 2015 and does not apply to reciprocating referrals).

Whether you fish the tournament or stop in for the FREE outdoor expo and demonstrations, we think you’ll have a great time at Can-Yak!

1st Place Prize is an Oldtown Loon 106 Angler kayak. Sponsored in part by Kaufman’s home furnishings

2nd Place Prize is a St. Croix PFS70LF- Panfish Series Rod, Personalized to the winner. Sponsored by St. Croix Rods

3rd Place Prize is a Plano Tackle box stuffed full of tackle & gift certificates. Sponsored in part by Plano Synergy

All events (other than TOURNAMENT FISHING) will take place at host facility unless specified or indicated as “on your own”. Catches can be reported by email, text message, or in-person at the Great Northern Hotel after fishing ends for the day. HOST FACILITY: Great Northern Hotel.



Friday 9/2/16: at The Pines Restaurant & Beer Garden

  • 5-8PM Tournament registration outside under tent in the Beer Garden
  • 6PM Rules Briefing
  • 7PM Meet and Greet with live music/band “Jagged Highway” in the Beer Garden.

Saturday 9/3/16: at Great Northern Hotel/Wolf’s Sen

  • 6-8AM Tournament registration in the Great Room at the Hotel
  • 7AM-3PM Tournament fishing (all participants must report in by 4:30pm)
  • 11AM-6PM FREE Outdoor Expo open to the public.
    • 11AM-4PM Vendors, Demos and Workshops
      • 11:30AM fly tying demos
      • Noon-3PM Kids activities
      • Noon- Fishing the Turtle Flambeau Flowage and other lakes- roundtable discussion.
      • 12:30PM- Fish Filleting techniques
      • 3PM- Cardboard Can-Yak Race
      • 5PM Celebrity Campfire Cookoff Challenge
    • 1-3 PM. Build your own cardboard Can-Yak challenge.
      • Limited to the first 10 teams to register. Register Here!
      • Each team will be given a set of supplies and two hours to build.
      • One designated team member (age 18+) must race the boat down a course, around a buoy and back. Winner is determined by time.
      • Cost is $20/team – Each team can have up to 4 people.
      • All registered team members receive a Can-Yak T-shirt.
      • Prizes awarded to winners.
    • 5PM Camp cook-off challenge (combination of “Iron Chef” and “Chopped”, but with our own Mercer twist) . We will announce the contestants by mid July.
Erv Keller, local professional guide, shared some of his favorite big bass-catching lures during my trip there, call him for fishing reservations and advice at 715-605-2349.

Sunday 9/4/16: at the Great Northern Hotel/Wolf’s Den

  • 7AM-3PM Tournament fishing (all participants must report by 4:30pm)
  • 4:30—7pm appetizers, dinner, awards and raffles.
  • 8-11pm live band entertainment by the “White House Players”. Open to the public.

2016 Tournament Rules:

Anglers of all ages and skill levels are welcome to participate. We encourage both serious anglers and families looking for a little fun to give it a try. Registration is $40/person (includes banquet meal and a T-shirt) prior to August 15, 2016 ($50 after). Teams of 2+ will receive a 10 % discount and children 12 and under is $20/person.

  1. Participants must be fishing in a canoe or kayak only.
  2. Registration/Check In is on Friday, Sept. 2nd from 5-8PM at the Pine Restaurant & Beer Garden. There will be a group rules briefing at 6PM followed by a meet and greet with live band afterwards. Participants unable to make the Friday night check in can still register from 6-8AM on Saturday morning at the Great Northern Hotel.
  3. All participants must check in and sign a release waiver and understanding of rules document prior to fishing.
  4. Tournament times are 7AM-3PM on both Saturday Sept. 3rd and Sunday Sept. 4th.
  5. We care about the long-term health of our lakes, so Can-Yak is a Catch-Photo-Release (CPR) tournament. Fishing species include pan fish (crappie, pumpkin/sunfish, bluegill and perch,), walleye, bass, northern, and musky.
  • A minimum length per species (if any) will be set and posted on registration day.
  1. There will be a reporting “bag limit” of a baker’s dozen (yes, that’s up to 13 fish) per day of which up to 9 can be pan fish of any species and up to 4 can be game fish of any species (musky, walleye, bass, northern).Four points will be awarded per inch of length, regardless of species (one point per quarter-inch).
  2. All participants will be registered as individuals to compete for 1st, 2nd and 3rd Place prizes.
  3. Participants (either individual or as a team) catching at least one qualified fish of each of the 5 species listed will be entered into a drawing for a $100 “FULL FISH” prize. (One panfish, one muskie, one northern, one bass, and one walleye).
  4. Teams of 2 or more must register as a team prior to the start of the tournament. The advantage of registering as a team?
  • Teams of 2 or more will receive a 10% discount and will compete for a 1st, 2nd or 3rd Place trophy complete with bragging rights.
  • Each team member will also be registered as an individual to compete for 1st, 2nd and 3rd place prizes as mentioned in #4.
  • Fishing as a team will give you a better chance of coming up with a “Full Fish”!
  • Team points will be divided by the number on your team. Ex. Two Person team=total points divide by 2 / Four person team=total points divided by 4.
  1. Both live and artificial bait is acceptable.
  2. Fish must be recorded on the official “Clam Sponsored” bump board showing at least the top end and slightly beyond the end of the fish.
  3. All fish must be photographed using the “daily tag” that will be given out at registration.
  • Fish must be placed on the assigned board clearly show the left side of the fish with mouth butted up to the end with tail pinched and daily fishing card that will be assigned at check in.
  • All fish must be reported and verified by our Can-Yak Officials by 4:30PM on each day to qualify. We will have a booth outside at the Expo for reporting fish on Saturday and picking up your Sunday fishing tag. This is a great time for you to come check out where you stand on the board, chat with fellow participants and see some of the expo too!
  • Cameras or phones must have a time and date stamp for verification.
  • Bump boards measure up to 43”. An additional DNR tape will be included in your registration packet that you must take with you in the event you catch a fish larger than 43”.
  1. Battery operated motors allowed for navigation only.
  • No gas powered motors allowed.
  • No motor trolling allowed.
  1. Fishing will be allowed on any lake that is legally accessible in Iron County south of County Hwy G (which is located in central Iron County).
  • This map outlines (the lower half outlined in black) the designated fishing area on our web site A full size map can be mailed to you upon request, otherwise, one will be provided to all participating anglers upon check in. Can-Yak map locations
  • To keep our lakes pristine, anglers will be provided with a boat washing kit.
  • If your boat has been on any water within 14 days prior to the tournament, please clean your boat with the provided kit before entering our waters. If you change lakes at any time throughout the tournament, you must clean your boat with the provided kit before doing so.
  • In order to ensure safety, we will be asking all anglers to let us know what lake/s they intend to fish on. We will NOT share this information with anyone, but in the event of an emergency, we have an idea of where to start looking for you.
  1. This is a Chamber sponsored event, with the help of many sponsors too!
  • Support our posted sponsors whenever possible.
  • Feel free to post on the Can-Yak Facebook or Chamber’s Twitter accounts. ◦Facebook-

Twitter- -Be sure to use #MercerCanYak

  • Along with recorded bump board photos, we encourage candid shots of you and the fish for promotion.
  1. If the same fish is caught twice by the same person, it only counts as one. Although uncommon,

yes, this has happened in the past.

  1. All DNR Rules apply except those governed by stricter rules above. Iron County Lakes all have different rules, so be sure to know the rules of the lake you plan to fish.
  2. You will be supplied with both the bump board and boat washing kit. These need to be turned into the registration table at the end of the tournament. We appreciate you cooperation on this.
While you’re there, visit the St. Croix Rod Factory just 15 minutes from mercer. The St. Croix on-site discount store has some of the best values on St. Croix rods you will ever find, but do yourself a favor and take their new factory tour – never offered before this year.

The Loon Capital of the USA

Town of Mercer, Iron County, Wisconsin

Mercer, Wisconsin, is the Loon Capital of the world and observing a pair of these beautiful water birds will leave you with indelible composition of chorus and ballad interchange, as if the birds were asking you a question and helping you answer.

No matter how far you have to drive or fly to reach Iron County in Wisconsin, the ride down Highway 51 will allow your mind to embrace nature.  You may also want to keep your camera shutter ready.

Pulling off to the side of the lone north-south road, fresh air, serenity, wildlife and endless wonders of nature share in the peace to be found here.  Whitetail deer, wild turkey, bald eagles, wrens, warblers, porcupines and one of my all-time favorite birds, the rose-breasted grosbeak may offer a view.  The ride to Mercer, Wisconsin, can be a memory-making interval in your life.  It is an unforgettable place to visit.

Above all that, there are Loons in abundance.  There is only one word that seems appropriate for these water birds, that word is “beautiful.”

Just moments after sunrise, the view from my room window at the Great Northern Hotel in Mercer, Wisconsin, is breathtaking. Forrest Fisher Photo

looncapital3Loons are striking in their breeding plumage.  Their iridescent-sheen reflects with the sun, their prominent black and white checkered back, deep red eyes, glossy black bill and the natural philosophical expression of their black head are accentuated by white necklace color pattern that circles their muscular neck.  They are very special and distinct to watch.

When I arrived in Mercer and checked in at the Great Northern Hotel, I only needed to see the waterfront view from my room window to know that I was going to love this place.

There they were, the Loons, two of them, a pair of love birds, swimming neck to neck with each other, constantly looking over to one another and checking in during a ritual of obvious private discussion.  Of course, maybe they were talking with me and I just didn’t know it.  I felt they were discussing my presence near to their nest which had two eggs in it.


Both male and female Loons have the same appearance in color and marking, except the male is usually larger in a mating pair.  They are both equal in beauty and song tone.  Beautiful sounds of nature and wild freedom that echo in the distance and are especially pronounced in the early morning.  Their song seems to carry farther with a fog slowly rising off the morning sunrise moments, occasionally sounding like an intimate conversation between the birds.

looncapital5There was a dock right outside my room at the hotel, right on the shore of San Domingo  Lake.  I tied on a small snap, added a small lure – a random choice, and headed to the water.  I wasn’t sure if I just wanted to just sit down and listen to more of what the Loons wanted to share, or cast my lure.  The feeling was serene and comforting.  It was peacefully magnificent.

After a few minutes, I instinctively reached down to the bail of the lightweight, open-face reel and flipped it open.  The cast gently sent the lure out about 40 feet from the dock –not anywhere near the Loons who seemed quite interested in my every move.

My polarized sunglasses revealed a weed bed not far down from the surface near the point of my lure entry, so I cranked quickly, rod tip high, and after the lure moved only about five feet, it slammed to a jolting stop.  Then the line started moving quickly to the right.  No, this was not a snag!  About the same time, my drag started singing that happy chirping song when it is being tested to protect the line from breaking.  Then the drag started screaming and wailing in perfect angler sheet music.

A few minutes later, a nice 18-inch largemouth bass slid into my open hand.  So perfect a fish.  So perfect a day.  When I reached down, the water was so cold.  I unhooked the fish and released it to live another day.  I grabbed the pocket thermometer in my jacket found the lake to be 42 degrees!

How was it possible that a fish would even think about swimming to catch a lure at that temperature?  Ours is not to ask why or how when success is our friend, so I quickly followed up with another cast.

In six casts, I hooked and landed two more fish of about the same size.  It was an amazing learning moment!  Water too cold, lure swimming very fast, wobbling, making sonic underwater noise and wham!  OK, writing that down in the frozen chapters of stored fishing secrets.  Maybe that’s why the Loons kept looking in my direction too.  Was it the underwater sound of the lure?  Either way, it seemed we had a conversation going on.

In the next three casts, I hooked three more fish and didn’t try very hard to land them.  They tossed the lure and went free.  Tournament release!  The Loons kept watching.

I rested my rod.  In this unmatchable and unique “Land of the Loons,” a trip to that land of special memories, that place where we never stop sharing fun with time and learning from the mentors we continue to meet, sometimes from the view at the dock.  I smiled again.

On some days, life is extraordinary, especially when Loons become part of the regular day in Mercer, Wisconsin.

Sarah Palermo, proprietor of The Wampum Shop, offers hundreds of various Loon collector replicas from small to large, in a quaint shop located in downtown Mercer.