The perfect balance between unspoiled nature and city life

Pelican Lake / Oneida County Wisconsin

Lake Name: Pelican Lake / Oneida County Wisconsin


  • Location: Pelican Lake Wisconsin Southeast of Rhinelander on Highway 45
  • Accessibility: 3 good boat landings east west & south shorelines
  • Accommodations: Resorts & Campgrounds
  • Surface Water Area: 3585 Acres
  • Shoreline: 13 Miles
  • Maximum Depth: 39 Feet
  • Water Color: Clear
  • Lake Type: Drainage
  • Littoral Bottom Structure: 40% Sand 30% Muck 20% Gravel 10% Rubble
  • Primary Game Fish Species: Musky, Walleye, Northern Pike, Panfish (Crappie Perch, Bluegills)
  • Secondary Game Fish Species: Largemouth & Smallmouth Bass

Fishing Tips:

Multi Specie tips from Scott Biscobing of Hodag Guide Service

Pelican Lake is the largest lake in Oneida County and is a very diverse fishery. It has good numbers and size of panfish.

Bluegills, perch and crappies are the panfish of choice here. Pelican has expansive reed flats, which offer great cover for the panfish. Concentrate on the sections that also have cabbage mixed in and you will up your odds. Some ice catches of perch can be taken in the winter off the edges of the weeds and the edges of the many rock piles and reefs.

Walleye are also common but the size has slipped a bit in the past few years but some quality fish are still taken every year. I would concentrate on the weed edges early in the year. Later in the season the fish will drop off during the day and move into the weeds I the evening. The many rock reefs are also a good bet. Jigs and slip bobbers work well here. I use 1/8th ounce jigs but wind and depth may require a larger jig. You need to maintain bottom contact.

Pike are also here in good numbers and size. Every year some upper 30″to 40″ pike are caught. Bucktails and Spinner baits in white or orange with gold or painted blades work well. The weeds will produce pike but the larger fish tend to be deeper.

The musky fishing is good here with fish of all sizes, but pelican still produces upper 40’s to 50″ class fish annually. In the spring, bucktails and twitch baits shine in the new weed growth areas. As the season progresses fish will start to move out onto the reefs. Cranks, bucktails, jerkbaits and top water work here. Pelican can be a fun top water bite with some hogs showing themselves. I like oranges and perch patterns in all baits here. Bass are also common.

Largemouth can be caught off the docks using jigs and in the reeds with spinners and buzz baits. Smallmouth tend to on the rocks closer to deep water. Look around the islands and the reefs with cranks and tubes. Top water will also work in the evenings. This is a Bass sleeper. Pelican is a fun fishery but you need to use caution when running the lake as there are several prop hazards most of which are marked.

Musky tips from John Stellflue of Oneida Esox Guide Service

I have a Love/Hate relationship with Pelican Lake. This lake is capable of producing a 40 lb fish but the fishing pressure can be somewhat intimidating. Every time I visit this body of water I see fish, and usually some big ones. However these fish are some of the most educated in Oneida County.

That being said, in order to be successful out here you must think outside the box. The great looking cabbage on Pelican can get the best of you. Don’t make that mistake. If the fish are not going in the cabbage, get out of the weeds and hit the rock and sand structure on this lake.

Most fish that visit my boat from Pelican come from the rock structure. Keep your boat in the 12-14 foot range. Bait selection can be as simple as Mepps Musky Killers and topwater lures. Some other baits to consider are Depth Raiders, glide baits such as a Reef Hawg, and of course the home lake favorite, the Suick. If the rocks don’t produce, I have also caught fishing fishing the bald sand structure on this body of water.  Fish the sand slightly shallower than you would the rocks, but feel free to use the same lures. Bottom line on this lake is DO NOT stay in the weeds if they are not producing.