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Recreation and Leisure Ratings

Most of the research that has been done on the seasonal migration from a primary home to a second home (cabin or cottage) or just relocating the primary residence to a waterfront home indicates it is done with the intent of increasing recreation and leisure time.  The research further indicates moving to another location tends to be done for a variety of secondary reasons from finding solitude to moving to better weather.

The lake home also tends to be a highly social location and a place where we seek to get closer to nature.  In the book “The Cabin” by Dale Mulfinger and Susan Davis other reasons for having a lake home are based on individuals finding solitude, simplicity, escape, intimacy and gaining some level of self-sufficiency. The cabin also becomes a refuge, and it becomes a focal point of leisurely diversion; for most that diversion is based on activities, which incorporate the cabins natural setting.   Lake Little Sissabagama offers everything from solitude and inspiration to excellent recreational activities.  Below we have rated activities based on their relationship to other areas in Wisconsin, Minnesota and Illinois.

Fishing: The topography and diversity of the lake, islands and surrounding area offers a diverse opportunity for anyone and any activity.  Little Sissabagama is still one of the few areas where you can catch pan fish for the kids and land world class musky for yourself. The lack of public landings has allowed the lake to maintain this fishing haven for locals. Little Siss is not stocked and traditional bait and lure fishing is the most prevalent form of fishing on the lake.   Fly-fishing bass and northern on Little Siss is fun and challenging.  Bass make great game fish for the aggressive fly fisherman.  The Stone Lake and Hayward areas are also excellent trout fishing havens.  The local rivers and streams are well stocked and offer a variety of trout.  Going north you also have access to the trout runs from the great lakes each fall.  Ice Fishing is not as popular on Little Siss as it is on Big Siss, Deep Lake and other surrounding lakes.   Fishing is rated as: ABOVE AVERAGE for Little Siss to EXCELLENT, when considering the entire area.  See Fishing.

Hiking: The Lake offers a variety of islands that are excellent for roaming and hiking.  Frank Stout Island, a protected nature preserve, offers over 40 acres of old growth forest and some excellent exploration.  The island still holds secrets to discover (see lake mysteries on this web site). Hiking the surrounding area is diverse, extensive and absolutely wonderful.  There are few spots in the Northwood’s that have such a broad selection of both summer and winter trails, all within easy driving distance.  Hiking is rated as EXCELLENT.

Swimming is still a big part of the lake recreation.  The water is clear, much of the bottom is sandy and many cabins have natural sand beaches surrounded by pines and oaks that hold those famous rope swings.  It is not uncommon to see swimmers crossing the lake and bays during the hot summer months on long-distance swims.  Boaters are urged to watch for swimmers both close to shore and even in the middle of the lake during the season.  The lake has remained free of invading species so far and has not had swimmers itch recorded.  Boat traffic is light and except for the key holidays, most bays are free for the swimmer to enjoy. The biggest issue swimmers may have is the periodic, harmless nibble of smaller fish, which cluster around swimming floats, as they tend to “groom” each other and maybe you. Little Sissabagama is rate for swimming as: EXCELLENT.

Canoeing and Kayaking: The calm waters, many bays, large tracks of undeveloped shoreline and frequent sightings of wildlife, from otters to loons, make the lake a truly wonderful place for canoe and kayak activities.  The lake also connects to smaller bays and a couple of little waterways that offer the more adventuresome, great exploration.  The lake is rated as: EXCELLENT and well above the majority of similar lakes (Diamond Lake is considered similar in nature to Little Siss).

Sailing: A number of small sailboats are on the lake and can be seen during the height of the summer.  The two largest bays offer reasonable sailing for smaller craft when the wind is good.  The lake’s high bluffs and many islands create a lot of wind shadows however, and make sailing more challenging for the novice. The lack of other boat traffic is a great benefit to sailors providing smooth water most of the day.  The size of the lake limits the size of sailboats and requires lots of come abouts.  Sailing is rated: BELOW AVERAGE.

Boating: The size of the lake means the boats are smaller.  Pontoons dot the lake and make this style of boat a good choice for those families that want to see the lake at a leisurely pace.  A collection of classic wooden boats is ever present and of course fishing boats are easily spotted in the early mornings and late in the afternoon and evenings.  Boating is a big part of the lake.  The best part of Little Sissabagama is the desire by lakeshore owners to keep the boats and motor sizes smaller.  The periodic visitor may bring an oversized ski boat to the lake or that 100 hp fishing boat, which is however, the exception.  Lakeshore owners are encouraged to purchase the newer 4 stroke and 2stroke high-efficiency motors for their boats.  DNR rules require boats to stay 50 feet from shore when producing a wake.  Because the lake is smaller, the ability to speed around is limited and may not be suitable for everyone.  Deep draft boats will find the sandbars and bolder bars real prop benders.  The large number of bays makes the lake a great slow boating experience. Small boating and pontoons for the lake are rated as: AVERAGE

Personal Watercraft, Jet Skis, Jet Boats: Not permitted on the lake

Water skiing, Wakeboards, Water Toys (water bikes), etc.: The lake offers a large enough spaces for all of these sports, but larger waters make these sports more attractive, however the water is smooth and the boat traffic low enough for everyone to be able to share in these sports and not feel disappointed.  At the present time only a few families do participate in these sports and the lake association and DNR post specific times for these sports.  Most water skiing and wakeboarding is focused on the two large bays.  No wake provisions are enforced on small bays and near shoreline.  Rating: BELOW AVERAGE

Winter Skiing, Snowshoeing, Ice Skating: The Lake and surrounding area offers significant opportunities for X-Country skiing. Groomed trails are all within easy driving distance.  One of the world’s largest cross-country ski races  (the Berkebiner) is held each year in Hayward, Wisconsin in February. The lake and immediate surrounding property is excellent for Nordic X-Skiing, but offers no groomed trails. The nearest groomed trails are just several miles west of Stone Lake, at the Nordic Ski Area. Snowshoeing during the best snowy winters is always fun, with lots of areas to explore. Small metal snowshoes are recommended.  Downhill skiing is available in a few local resorts; the hills are not challenging and very short. The closet quality downhill skiing is two hours north. Ice Skating is great if you don’t mind shoveling.  It is not uncommon to see a skating rink outside of a winter cabin.  Winter Sports are rated as: ABOVE AVERAGE to EXCELLENT  (note: rating is for when snow is present, climate changes have affected the state over the last five years). 

Snowmobiles and Personal 3/4 Wheelers: The area has some of the countries best winter sports trails.  The trails are well groomed, traveled and marked.  Trailheads are within a block or two of the lake.  The lake has little or no snowmobile or 4-wheel traffic itself, keeping it quite during the winter months. Summer trails are also maintained.  Rated: EXCELLENT

Hunting: Northern Wisconsin has remained one of the best hunting areas in the Midwest for years.  The birds, deer and other wildlife are plentiful and well managed by the DNR.   The deer population has been in over abundance due to the low snowfall.  Large game animals such a bear are also on the increase.  Duck populations are in decline or stable depending on the area hunted.  Little Siss has had very little hunting pressure due to the large tracks of private land. Rated: ABOVE AVERAGE

Biking, Running, Walking: The Lake has few roads; many are still gravel and the periodic truck and car may not be aware of you, take caution.  Biking in the area is great when you are on the blacktop and there are plenty of those, but not so good on the gravel.  Runners and walkers find the area enjoyable but remote.  The local area does have bike trails, walking and running trails. Rated: AVERAGE

Bird and Wildlife Observation: During migration periods the area boasts a large number of bird species.  Osprey, Eagles, Owls, Loons, Geese, Ducks and Hawks are common daily sightings.  Finches are plentiful as are woodpeckers, Robbins and Hummingbirds to name a few. Any bird feeder will be filled with birds within hours of a filling. If you enjoy wildlife, this lake offers an ever-amazing variety of species to view on a regular basis. Rating: ABOVE AVERAGE

Photography and Arts: There is something for everyone on this lake.  Wilderness abounds, beauty is ever present, and there is a picture perfect moment at every cabin, on every island and in each bay.  Keep your cameras at ready and keep the best photos posted on this site. Artist for years have found this lake a very special place.  From the works of the Gerlach-Barklow Company of the 30’s to our lake artist of today, the lake is a perfect spot for drawing and painting. Rated:  ABOVE AVERAGE (for a populated lake).

Gardening: Yes, flowers and vegetable gardens are found around many of the cabins.  It is a struggle however.  Poor soil, lots of pine needles and large deer, chipmunk, squirrel and rabbit populations make gardening a recreational activity for individuals with a willingness to endure frequent and constant defeat by nature  (don’t even consider keeping grass lawns unless you love geese).  Rating: IF THERE IS ANYTHING BELOW AVERAGE, THIS IS IT

Events, Festivals, Holiday Celebrations: Although you might not consider it a recreational activity many locals and visitors consider eating, observing and shopping at the dozens and dozens of local festivals just that.  Festivals and events (like fishing tournaments and Rutabaga  Fests) range from the bizarre to the mundane, but all are a true slice of Northern Wisconsin life, missing one could mean the difference between a very dull life and one filled with quizzical delight. Go to the events calendar for local activities. Also don’t miss the 4th of July Boat Parade and Picnic on the Lake each year. Festival Rating: OUTSTANDING IN EVERY SENSE OF THE WORD