Fishing, Life, Love & The Great Outdoors
Dick Ellis' On Wisconsin Outdoors - Submitted June, 2009

Canoe Back To Basics In Wolf River Country
By Joel “Doc” Kunz

The first thing I learned upon securing my permanent campsite at River’s Edge Camping Resort on the Wolf River near Leeman, was that I was going to have to change my expectations when it came to fishing in the area. First and foremost, I was gong to have to for go the comforts of my “horse powered” fishing boat and trade them in for a paddle and a boat cushion. I was also informed that in order to get to some of the best fishing, I was to expect to have to get out of the boat at times. But I was Joel “Doc” Kunz is a 2005 “Readers Choice” Award winner, member of the Association of Great Lakes Outdoor Writers (AGLOW) told I could expect good fishing for smallmouth bass, walleye and catfish along with expecting to spend a day enjoying the peace of the river away from the hustle and bustle of the more popular sections of the Wolf River.

So with expectations properly aligned, I set out to find some local river rats to fill me in on the opportunity. If I was going to jam myself in a canoe, I needed to have an idea of what to expect. Finding someone to get started with wasn’t hard to do. Haze Diemel was easy to engage in a conversation. Long time area resident, Haze owned the bar that is now a part of River’s Edge Camping resort. He is also one of the founders of a local organization, “Shadow’s on the Wolf”, that has raised and donated thousands of dollars to local conservation efforts. With years of experience under his belt, he knows the river from Shawano to Shiocton quite well and talked with me about walleye fishing some of the stretches. Having to “work for them” was the bottom line. Gravel bars, drop offs and wood in the water provide sufficient cover. There is actually a good year round population of walleye but as in any river, water levels play a critical role as to their numbers and location. Mornings, dusk and overcast days were best but fish could be caught at any time of day. Small crank baits and jigs tipped with a leech were the first tactics I mentioned and Haze responded with a nod and smile. “You never know what you’re going to catch them on. Sometimes it’s the kid with the big red bobber that catches the big fish”. Through the conversation I found out that there are some northern pike in the Wolf River between Shawano and Shiocton, but Haze felt numbers and size of the fish in the area was generally down in recent years. When asked he said that an occasional Muskie was reported, but it would be a rare occasion to catch one. I asked about the smallmouth bass fishing and he reiterated what I had heard from others. That is, the Embarrass River was the place to be for river smallies.

So now I had the basics. If I wanted smallmouth bass and some occasional very good walleye fishing, I should head to the Embarrass River with the area below the dam at Pella a good starting point. I was told to expect to have some shallow areas where we may have to drag the canoe and that we would be fishing holes and drops offs with jigs or small crank baits. But, without a canoe or someone to drop me off, I will opt for renting a canoe at Rivers Edge and having to work a bit harder to catch fish, if that’s the case. It’s actually a resource not available until this year. Never before has someone operated a canoe outfitting service on this part of the river. Bring your own canoe, or rent one from Rivers Edge, they will drop you off at one of a number of access points up stream allowing you to fish your way back to the resort. It’s a great way to see the Wolf River and the nature surrounding it. A close friend told me on his last outing he saw eagles, osprey, heron, cranes and all sorts of ducks whose names I didn’t know. He said that fishing wasn’t spectacular but he managed a few fish and showed me a picture on his cell phone.

So if you are looking for a chance to fish some seldom fished waters, look for access points on the Wolf and Embarrass Rivers above their confluence in New London. There are numerous access points on both rivers and each mile up stream provides a river less traveled. Once the Wolf turns north again at Shiocton, a view on Google earth will show that the rivers run basically parallel for quite some time and are literally only 3 miles apart where County 156 crosses each, east of Clintonville. On the Embarrass a dam at Pella is the first obstruction up stream of the mouth at New London, providing 55 miles of canoe-able water. The river changes quite a bit and is rocky in some areas. The Wolf’s first obstruction upstream of New London is the dam at Shawano, about 65 miles away. From New London to Shiocton you may see a few boats, but above that point there will be very few.

Steve Pari at River’s Edge Camping Resort near Leeman, (where County F crosses the Wolf River), is the only “outfitter” that I know of. At this time he offers innertube trips and canoe rental on the Wolf River, but does not yet do drop off and pick up on the Embarrass. If you have your own equipment, you may be able to arrange something. They can be reached at (715) 752-3344 or through their web site at You are sure to enjoy the beauty of the river and mostly wooded shorelines of Wolf River Country.

Joel “Doc” Kunz is a 2005 “Readers Choice” Award winner and member of the Association of Great Lakes Outdoor Writers (AGLOW). Visit his web site at


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