Wolf River

Watershed/Basin 3,690 square miles

Northern Pike
Northern Pike caught during a DNR fishery survey on the Wolf River (Widow Bay)

Unlike the Fox River, the Wolf River begins its journey in the forests of Northern Wisconsin.   It is a river robbed of its glory, for it carries more water than the Fox River when the two meet.  Therefore there should be no Lower Fox River; it should end at Lake Butte des Morts.  The Wolf River should keep its name until it mixes with the waters of Green Bay, but after several centuries, it hardly matters anymore.  The Wolf has had much less commercial boat traffic than the Fox River historically, but what it did floated downstream and had a much larger impact on the early industrial economy.  Millions of Eastern White Pine logs were rafted down the Wolf, collected and put into booms at Lake Poygan’s Boom Bay, and sent down to the growing City of Oshkosh to be converted into the raw lumber that built the Mid-West.  In addition to 2x4s, planks, and lath, numerous manufactures turned the old-growth pines into window sashes, doors, matches, and other products. Eventually, the old-growth pines were no more, and the rafts of logs dried up.

Early spring fishing on the Wolf River

The Wolf River is home to the largest run of Lake Sturgeon in the world.  It is also the highway for most of Lake Winnebago’s walleyes on their journey to spawning marshes adjacent to the river, an unusual place for walleye to spawn.

WDNR Wolf River Basin

The Wolf River is famous for its Lake Sturgeon. The Lake Sturgeon (Acipenser fulvescens) is a true conservation success story. Due to commercial, and sport fishing in the nineteenth century, and widespread poaching that followed well into the twentieth century Lake Sturgeon on the Winnebago System greatly declined. With careful management by the state and hundreds of dedicated fisherman and sturgeon enthusiasts, the population is secure and growing in terms of both fish numbers and fish size.
Water has topped the banks of the Wolf River and left standing water in this floodplain forest of mostly Silver Maples.