Through the Lens: Multi-Day Excursion on the Chippewa Flowage and More!

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“Traveling; it leaves you speechless, then turns you into a storyteller.”

Ibn Battuta

Although my traveling is miniscule compared to Ibn Battuta, an Afro-Eurasia explorer, There is a story – whether short or long – to share and reminisce about. This is true with a recent trip I was on in northern Wisconsin and western Wisconsin. In this article, I share my 14-day trip with you that I did in late August 2022; a trip to remember, and a trip that makes me want more of this type of naturistic journey.

I prepare for this 14-day trip with my teardrop camper, kayak, photography equipment, fishing gear, and snacks. From previous experience, I attempted to keep this trip simple, only bringing things I need with the limited storage available in my truck and camper. And so I begin this trip, starting at Flambeau River State park, making my way towards the Chippewa Flowage, then ending the trip along the Mississippi River Pool 6.

To sum up my daily routine all 14 days:

  • 6:00AM: Wake Up
  • 6:30AM: Head towards water
  • 7:00AM: Launch
  • 5:00PM: Return
  • 6:00PM: Dinner
  • 9:00PM: Sleep

I spent roughly ten hours on my kayak each day. I would find time throughout the trip to stand up, stretch, walk around if I find an accessible bank, and snack. Kayaking ergonomically is a thing!

Below is a quick recap of Day 1 through Day 14, along with some visuals!

Day 1-2: Flambeau River State Park

Prior to hitting the Chippewa flowage, I spent a few days at Flambeau River State Park. My brother, Xang, and I had a river float planned on the Flambeau River, The first and second day were spent exploring the surrounding lakes. It was a typical day, catching bluegills, shad, and prey fish in clear water. A highlight of these two days was experiencing four smallmouth bass feeding right below my kayak. Their feeding aggression was especially noticeable as they came after the bluegills I was catching nearby. I have never experienced this behavior in person, which just made the trip even more intriguing. On our way back to camp, I also caught at the corner of my eye what I believe to be the biggest elk I have ever seen in person, thighs as high as my truck windshield. Or I may have been tired; nonetheless, a great start to the trip!

Day 3: Flambeau River

Xang and I voyaged the Flambeau River, one of the more calming float I’ve been on. The fishing was plentiful with smallmouth bass scattered throughout the river. I disappointingly missed two attempts at landing two muskies after they went after the smallmouth bass I was reeling in with an ultra light rod. That river is home to some aggressive muskies! After eight hours of floating, Xang and I were not even halfway done with the float. We did have to paddle some distance without fishing to land before sunset, which we succeeded in doing. A highlight from this trip was experiencing a lone black bear cross the river right in front of us. I was fortunate to capture some distant shots of it; truly spectacular!

Day 4-11: Chippewa Flowage

I came to the Chippewa Flowage understanding that this area is 20+ sq. miles of terrain. Overwhelming, yes, but also great opportunities to explore both fishery and wildlife. The fishing was wonderful, catching walleyes, bass, pikes, panfish, perch, and many other prey and predatory fish. Without a fish finder, I used my experience to identify probable fishing spots that I knew could hold fish. I did regretfully lose a muskie I hooked into on a 1/32 oz. jig head; after two jaw-dropping jumps, it bit off my line and swam off. Regardless, very cool to see. In addition, the wildlife was just divine, including the scenic nature/landscape.

Day 12-14: Mississippi River, Pool 6

I arrive at my final destination site exhausted physically, but not mentally. There is still vast and great opportunities for fishing and wildlife photography. I visited a national park and wildlife refuge the last three days, in which I had a blast of a time fishing, and the greatest opportunity to view and experience hundreds of migratory birds gathering before their migration. I left the trip satisfied, fulfilled, and wanting more.

Wildlife Photography Moments

Wildlife, in any capacity, is spontaneous. You never know what will appear in your peripheral and how long it’ll be there for. I’ve dedicated more of my time this year to wildlife photography during my kayaking trips, and I am glad I did. It has made me more self aware of my surrounding, and allows me to study the behavior and yearly cycle of many wildlife. Not only that, but the educational desire to want to learn more about what I photograph; it’s a continuous cycle of self-satisfaction, education, and relaxation. Below are a few photographic highlights of my trip. Please enjoy them!


A doe and a fawn white-tail deer hydrating themselves before heading back into the woods.I spotted these two treading along the river’s bank. They eventually spotted me as I floated passed them and slowly made their way into the woods.

Sipping #2

A separate pair of a doe and fawn white-tail deer hydrating themselves before heading back into the woods. As the wind was pushing me towards shore, I spotted these two coming out of the woods taking quick sips of water before continuing their walk.

Somewhere Only We Know

A lone black bear crossing the river. A pleasant surprise while floating down the Flambeau River. About 200 yards away, a black bear emerged from one side of the river and made its way across; at first trotting, then running, then swimming across. My first river float encounter with a black bear, and a calming experience. This photo reminds me of the song, Somewhere Only We Know, covered by Lily Allen, originally sung by Keane. This song could be the theme song to this entire trip.


A great blue heron, seconds after gulping a perch it caught. From my kayak, I watched as this heron patiently and effortlessly snatched a perch from the shallow and swallowed it whole.


A perched bald eagle on a warm, summer morning. From 300 yards away, I noticed the whiteness of an eagle’s head from the shoreline. As I got closer, I was presented with a bald eagle calmly perched against the sunrise.


Two mallards feeding. Right at sunrise shortly after launching my kayak from the ramp, two mallards emerged from the shoreline feeding. Unthreatened by me, they continued their feeding as I photographed their beautify.

Basking in the Sun

A river otter relaxing as the sun rises. Along a river, a family of otters were loudly playing by the shoreline. One kept guard, allowing me to paddle on the opposite shoreline of them..


A common loon showing off its catch before swallowing it whole. I observed diving activities by this loon in the middle of a lake. It would peer its head down, then up, then down, eventually diving for its target. A wondrous feeding behavior to witness.


A sandpiper rummaging the sandy boat launch for insects. As I arrive at the boat launch, I was greeted by a sandpiper walking across the sandy shoreline, pecking at the sand.

Coming in Hot!

A beaver swimming with no attention to me. As I quietly paddled upstream back to the launch, a beaver was quietly paddling downstream towards me. We met eye to eye about 25 yards away, and it rerouted its swimming pathway.

Rest Stop

Two sandhill cranes sheltering from the 15+ mph wind before eventually continuing on their flight. The high winds pushed me towards the shoreline at the same time two sandhill cranes were coming in for landing. They landed about 50 yards from me and hid from the wind.

Crappie Meal

A gull snatching a crappie along the shallow pads. While sitting in my kayak observing the gulls feeding activity, one flew right in front of me, snatching a crappie before taking off. I sat myself in front of a shallow opening surrounded by lily pads. And one by one, the gulls expertly grabbed fishes one by one.

Crappie Meal #2

A gull snatching a crappie along the shallow pads. While sitting in my kayak observing the gulls feeding activity, one flew right in front of me, snatching a crappie before taking off. I sat myself in front of a shallow opening surrounded by lily pads. And one by one, the gulls expertly grabbed fishes one by one.


American white pelicans and cormorants gathering before migrating. I was truly blessed and fortunate to have experienced the large gathering of migratory birds before they continued on their journey south. From my kayak, I distanced myself from the 9-ft-wingspanned birds and enjoyed the view.

Refuge #2

American white pelicans and cormorants gathering before migrating. I was truly blessed and fortunate to have experienced the large gathering of migratory birds before they continued on their journey south. From my kayak, I distanced myself from the 9-ft-wingspanned birds and enjoyed the view.

Refuge #3

American white pelicans and cormorants gathering before migrating. I was truly blessed and fortunate to have experienced the large gathering of migratory birds before they continued on their journey south. From my kayak, I distanced myself from the 9-ft-wingspanned birds and enjoyed the view.


A great egret patiently waiting for its next meal to swim by. I watched this egret for about 30 minutes, patiently waiting for its food. Unfortunately, I didn’t see any feeding activities from it, but do admire the great discipline these bird have to patiently wait for their meal, knowing it will come, but when?


A northern leopard frog chilling. As I loaded up on my final destination, a leopard frog jumped towards me. Initially startled, I grabbed my camera and captured its picturesque feature.


Two trumpeter swans floating the Chippewa Flowage wetlands. While paddling back to shore, two swans floated past me, heading deeper into the wetlands.

Wild Corndogs

At the time of this shoot, I was getting hungry, and it didn’t help that these cattails looked like corndogs.

Chicken Mushroom

After curious research, I believe these are laetiporus mushroom, spotted from my kayak when I noticed something vibrant orange from the woods.

Trempealeau National Wildlife Refuge

Peering out at the refuge water. A Wisconsin wildlife gem, home to countless wildlife, migratory and nonmigratory.

Lake of the Pines

A cool, mist-ridden sunrise on Lake of the Pines.

The Kayak That Made This All Possible…

Chang with his Feelfree Moken 12.5 v2 overseeing the Mississippi River

The Feelfree Moken 12.5 v2 kayak. Stable, fast, maneuverable, spacious, comfortable, reliable; I can go on and on about the great feature of the Feelfree Moken that made this trip memorable. This kayak has been through it all with me for two years in all types of inland bodies of water, and definitely a kayak I would recommend to anybody in a heartbeat. Along with the great physique of the Feelfree Moken, Feelfree Kayaks also make products suited for their kayak brand, such as the Feelfree Crate Bag featured in the above image, which was used to store both my camera and fishing tackle; that is how much trust I have in the Feelfree Crate Bag to the extent I would house the most expensive equipment (camera) on my kayak in there.

If you are interested in learning more about the kayak I use – Feelfree Moken 12.5 v2 – or about the Feelfree Kayaks, leave a comment or send me a message at one of my social media! I have owned many Feelfree Kayaks and each serve a different purpose for the types of water you’re fishing, types of activity you’re doing, and personal needs. You can also visit the Feelfree Kayaks site to learn more about every model and their specifications!


“Without reflection, we go blindly on our way, creating more unintended consequences, and failing to achieve anything useful.”

Margaret J. Wheatley


I was asked to sum up my 2-week excursion on the Chippewa flowage and Mississippi River in one word. That word is overwhelming. Why?

Setting out to unfamiliar waterways, I became overwhelmed at the hundreds of acres of lakes, rivers, creeks, and marsh that the Chippewa flowage and surrounding wateres had to offer; and ultimately, where to even start? I didn’t seek out a guide nor have a fish finder. I came into this trip with the mindset of, figure it out yourself. And that’s exactly what I did. So, with my Feelfree Moken, I set out to kayak-accessible locations and I paddled nonstop through 15+ mph wind, white caps, muck, lily pads, over obstructions, anything to get to unpressured waters and unprovoked wildlife. And as I persisted, I was rewarded with some of the best fishing of my life, and unimaginable wildlife photos captured.

I sit here still feeling overwhelmed, knowing that during the two weeks spent exploring the Chippewa flowage and surrounding areas, I covered less than 5% of that entire flowage. This was not a surprised from a kayak. Yet, I still left the trip satisfied, but wanting more! And thus, the desire to return to the Chippewa flowage in the future increases. This desire of wanting more pushed me to continue this excursion onto the MS River Pool 6, for the remaining few days I had. And this comes with no surprise; the MS River provided great fishing and rich wildlife opportunities.

Furthermore, I believe reflecting on one’s experience improves future occurrences. And the chances of me replicating the same trip is high. The end of this trip is a continuation of my journey. Now let’s reflect. The following 8 reflective questions were created by Marc Cappelletti -Travel Industry Marketing and Product Consultant – on questions to ask oneself after returning from a trip. Comparably, my trip was statewide, but does allow me to broaden my thinking that can be applied to future trips and life.

  1. What about this trip am I most thankful for?
    The staff at Lake Chippewa Campground. This was my first time camping at this site, and the staff provided me with all information regarding amenities and attractions in and surrounding the camp. Very thankful for their helpfulness and positivity making the trip extra special with the great customer service.
  2. Did I shy away from doing anything? How can I address that fear?
    Yes, exploring more of the Chippewa Flowage. I love my Feelfree Moken, but shied away from paddling into open waters to distant bays. I knew I would be able to get back to the boat ramp, but also needed to conserve energy for two weeks. I have considered getting a pedal kayak for next year’s trip, such as the Feelfree Lure, Feelfree Flash, or Feelfree Dorado, both models that can be equipped with the pedal drive. The pedal drive will definitely increase my confidence in venturing out further with ease.
  3. What did people I saw not have that I take for granted?
  4. Which rituals or activities did I experience that could benefit my daily life, or that of my loved ones?
  5. Did I meet any people or organizations that would benefit from my assistance, financial or otherwise?
  6. What, if anything, did I get frustrated with while traveling that was out of my control?
    The wind was brutal while out on open water, which I did on the first two days of my trip at the Chippewa Flowage. The wind was going to be 15+ mph for the entire week, and I adjusted by fishing in areas that were more covered, sheltered from the wind.

    What do I do at home that I didn’t miss while I was away? Can I stop?
    Technology. Half of the trip I was in a low to no service area. This forced me to not use my phone nor any online activities. Part of the trip I also had no electricity, which allowed me to truly indulge in nature. I recommend to myself and anyone if you are camping to get away from technology and social media, camp at non-electric campsites. cell service should be present in case of emergency. I will not be able to stop using technology at home, but it can definitely be moderated.

    What did I learn from this trip that will help me increase enjoyment of future trips?
    Not so much learned, but doing more wildlife photography. I am finding great satisfaction and joy from capturing my surrounding; more joy than capturing a fish sometimes. Don’t get me wrong, fishing is the reason I got into kayaking; to allow me to get onto the water and go after the fish vs the fish coming after me. However, when I’m photographing wildlife, I’m not just looking for photo op; I’m enjoying my surrounding, looking at the drifting clouds, hearing the distant birds/crickets chirping, looking at the woods to see if there’s any woodland critters nearby, and just plain relaxing. I dedicated more of my time to wildlife photography to see if this is a hobby I am interested in pursuing. Nine months later and I am still anticipating the next shot, wherever that will be.


I appreciate and thank you for taking the time to ready this article. I believe a big part of traveling is storytelling, as Ibn Battuta quotes. I am hopeful this blog will inspire and give you the urge to engulf yourself in the great outdoors. I will embark on shorter trips for the rest of the year, but am looking forward to extended trips such as this in 2023. For next year, I will be looking into upgrading my camper to something more spacious; still in the market, recommendations are welcome! And also looking at another Feelfree kayak, this one with pedals!

If interested in continuing this topic of discussion relating to this blog, feel free to comment, or connect with me through one of my social media. I look forward to meeting and talking with you about the great outdoors!

Have a wonderful day!

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