Catch the ‘Mercer Muskie Madness’

fishing tournament

MERCER – Ten high-quality muskie lakes in the Mercer area await anglers entered in the fifth annual “Mercer Muskie Madness” Fishing Tournament with headquarters at Gateway Lodge and Resort and set for Friday and Saturday, Oct. 14 and 15.

Last year’s event drew 38 teams, and tournament director Wayne Riebe of Gateway Lodge hopes it continues to grow for an important reason.

A portion of the proceeds from this tournament is to benefit the Wounded Warriors in Action (WWIA), a non-profit foundation that supports U.S. military veterans in overcoming insurmountable odds and repay a debt of gratitude for the great sacrifices they’ve made.

They do this by providing world-class outdoor sporting activities as a means to recognize and honor their sacrifices, encourage independence and connections with communities, and promote healing and wellness through camaraderie and a shared passion for the outdoors. Learn more at

Two local Purple Heart recipients -- Doug Alderton of Rhinelander and Tony Pemble of Mercer -- will also take part in this year’s event!

Sponsored by the Gateway Lodge, fishing hours are 7am to 5pm Friday and 7am to 4pm Saturday. A unique feature of this tournament is that each team member may have two lines in the water using one artificial bait and one live bait! However, like all other muskie events this too has a catch-and-release framework. No trolling is allowed.

Entry fee is $175 for two-member team ($200 after Sept. 1), and includes the Saturday night 6pm banquet dinner and 8pm awards ceremony. (Gateway Lodge is also providing a free lunch Friday for anglers.) There will be a number of raffles, including for donated lodging, meals and specially marked Wounded Warriors fishing rods supplied by St. Croix Rods.

The anglers pool money in a pot for a big fish prize. A local fish biologist from the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources is slated to be a speaker.

Tournament anglers are strongly encouraged to check in and register Thursday night between 6-7pm at Gateway Lodge. The rules briefing immediately follows. The other opportunity for check-in and rules briefing is Friday morning at 6:30am, again at Gateway Lodge. For more information and registration, or to become a sponsor or donate to the tournament, call 715-476-7878 or visit thegatewaylodgecom.

Based on a full field of 60 registered teams, the total prize money is $5,400. Cash prizes are awarded in a point system 36-38”/8pts, 38-40”/10pts, 40” legal/25pts. One additional point will be awarded for every 1⁄2” over 40.” Winners are determined by the two-day accumulation of points.

Late fall is when the muskies put on the feeding bag, rewarding anglers with some of the best fishing of the year. However, they don’t call muskies the “fish of a thousand casts” for nothing. While they can be fickle, that only adds to the passion for this sport! Iron County helps to even out the odds for anglers by providing some of the best muskie waters in the Midwest.

And some of the “best of the best” muskie waters in Iron County (they boast 214 total lakes) are the 10 tournament-eligible lakes: Turtle-Flambeau Flowage, Fisher Lake, Spider Lake, Oxbow Lake, Echo Lake, Grand Portage Lake, Pike Lake, Mercer Lake, Lake of the Falls, and Trude Lake.

Sponsors of this year’s tournament, in addition to the Gateway Lodge and St. Croix Rods, are the Turtle-Flambeau Flowage Association, Northern Satellite & Electronics, Donner’s Bay Resort, Turtle River Trading Company, Boulder Marine, and Rollie & Hellen’s Musky Shop.