Riege: Mercer Wisconsin, Four Seasons Outdoor Playground

Published 8:25 pm Wednesday, August 29, 2012


The day dawned in the peaceful, Northwoods resort community of Mercer, Wisconsin. Members of the community and the members of the Mercer Chamber of Commerce greeted us with a lakeside campfire breakfast at Pine Forest Lodge. The food was outstanding and it was just the beginning of a spectacular three days of fishing, canoeing, hiking, ATV-ing, a floatplane trip, pontoon excursion and naturalist tour of the flowage, camping, shopping (visit the Wampum Shop a must see for the entire family) and meeting new friends.

Ginny Riege holds a 3.5 pound smallmouth bass caught on the Turtle-Flambeau Flowage. -- Photo Provided by Bob Riege

Mercer, Wisconsin is located at the northernmost part of Wisconsin, and only miles from the Michigan border. Mercer is situated in the Iron Country of Wisconsin and is part of the well-known Turtle Flambeau Flowage. The Turtle-Flambeau Scenic Waters Area encompasses the 14,000-acre Turtle-Flambeau Flowage. The flowage near Mercer enjoys a great reputation throughout the Midwest as the top producer of trophy walleyes, bass and muskies. The flowage has long been a favorite of paddlers, campers and wildlife watchers.

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Cory Yarmuth from legend-outdoors.com describes Mercer in the following way. “ Have you ever experienced a town that upon your arrival you felt as though you have lived there your whole life? A place that the people are warm and friendly and the wild animals outnumber the humans!”

Tina Brunell Administrator, Mercer Area Chamber of Commerce, said:

“Mercer Wisconsin is truly a four season playground. Mercer is home to the famed Turtle-Flambeau Flowage and is known as the Loon Capital of the World.

With over 377,000 acres of public forestland, 500 + miles of snowmobile trails, 200+ miles of ATV trails, 125,00 acres of endless rivers and lakes the outdoor recreation opportunities are unlimited.

From the rushing of the waterfalls and picturesque canoe/kayak trips in the spring to the endless summer days of fishing, camping and ATV-ing, Mercer offers plenty of sun filled days to enjoy. With the onset of the fall splash of colors, hunting and cool breezes that turn into the white gold of winter trail riding and skiing, there is definitely a season for all to enjoy our outdoor playground.

Mercer is a place to escape from the stresses and countless commitments and enjoy life and the outdoors. It’s a place to relax, send time with family and old friends, or even make some new ones.”

Over three days we had an opportunity to be introduced to some of the top guides in the Mercer area. Jerry Hartigan of Jerkbait Guide Service, Bobby Orr www.orrsoutdoors.weebly.com. Mike “Doc” Sabec www.docsguideservice.com.

Jeff Robl bobberdown@gmail.com and Erv Keller from Erv Keller Guide Service, all of these are outstanding guides, but we had so little time we only fished with Jerry Hartigan and Bobby Orr. Jerry specializes in walleye, bass and panfish and our method to catching some nice smallmouth bass was to tip jigs with half a nightcrawler. Bobby Orr is a musky guide and with that said, he is soft spoken, but knows when and where some of those big girls are at and will help you hook up with the “musky of your dreams.” If catching fish is on your agenda, we would highly recommend any of these guides.

With all the activities in the outdoors in Mercer you will probably have an appetite to go along with it. Some of the best food we have ever had the opportunity to sample came from the Mercer area. Not only did we have a campfire breakfast, but also a spectacular prime rib at Rugger’s Landing. The Pines located in downtown Mercer has the authentic German cuisine and homemade cakes and deserts. If burgers and combo platters are to your liking stop by Beaver Lodge or sample some of the best walleye at Gateway Lodge and Resort. Probably the crowning eating experience came on the last night of our stay and we enjoyed the excellent food of the Cranberry Inn. Their slogan is:

“Our restaurant and lodging will entice you to keep coming back.”

Three days were not long enough to experience this wonderful playground. Without any doubt at all we will be going back to Mercer, Wisconsin to enjoy the four seasons outdoor playground and to visit our new found friends.