Hayward Lakes Area Outdoor Report
Steve Suman

Monday’s rain and mild temperatures closed out a generally pleasant Memorial Day weekend. This week looks to be warmer, with Thursday evening the next chance for rain.

“Musky season opened last weekend,” says Pat at Happy Hooker, “and post spawn fish are on the move.
“Work medium size lures from shallow water to mid-depths with slow retrieves. If you see panfish in the shallows, cast on the deeper side of them. Walleye anglers are catching fish in shallower water on light tackle, small jigs with minnows and Twister Tails, and slow retrieves.
“Northern pike are active in and around shallow weeds and largemouth bass are moving shallow.
“Crappie fishing is good, though best in the afternoon when the water has warmed. Bluegill action is slow.”
Guide Dave Dorazio at Outdoor Creations says fishing is good on the Chippewa Flowage.
“Anglers are catching walleyes on wood and snags in 12-20 feet with jigs and fatheads and leeches. Northern pike action is good on the west side on spinners and crankbaits, with the largest pike taken on live bait.
“Bass anglers are catching decent largemouth on weedless plastics fished near fresh, green weeds. Crappies moved from the shallows to weeds in 6-10 feet and you can catch them on crappie minnows, feather jigs, and jigs tipped with plastics. Bluegill anglers are seeing some action in warm shallow bays in the afternoon.”
Jim at Hayward Bait says musky anglers reported decent action for the opener.
“Work weed beds in 5-15 feet with bucktails, Bull Dawgs, and stickbaits. Fish walleyes on weeds, wood, and gravel in 7-20 feet – shallow water in evening hours – with crankbaits, crawlers, walleye suckers, fatheads, and leeches.
“Fish pike on points and weedlines in 5-15 feet with suckers, crankbaits, and spinners. For largemouth, fish weeds and wood in 4-8 feet with crankbaits and jerkbaits. Catch smallmouth around weeds, wood, and rock in 5-15 feet with jigs, crankbaits, and stickbaits.
“The crappie bite is excellent on crappie minnows, waxies, plastics, Gulp! baits, and Beetle Spins in 2-6 feet. Catch bluegills in 1-4 feet on waxies, leaf worms, plastics, and Gulp! baits.”
Mike at Jenk’s says structure in spawning bays is great places to start for Chippewa Flowage musky angers.
“Muskies are in new weeds and one good weed bed can hold numerous fish. Try jerkbaits, smaller bucktails, and slow moving topwaters. Walleyes are on humps and deep wood in 8-25 feet, near deep water or river channels. Leeches on slip floats and minnows on jigs are equally good. For northern, fish bogs and weeds with jerkbaits, spinnerbaits, and suckers.
“Fish largemouth around wood in warm bays with wacky-rigged worms. For smallmouth, work gravel/rock shorelines with weedless tubes and worms. Catch crappies around deep humps and bog edges with Mini-Mites, Twister Tails, and Gulp! Minnows.”

This week, DNR fisheries biologist Max Wolter talks about warmouth.
“Hayward area anglers may occasionally catch a warmouth, a small brown or almost purple sunfish with black stripes around the eyes. Warmouth are similar in body shape to rock bass, with a larger mouth than bluegill or pumpkinseed. They are their own species, not a hybrid of other sunfish.
“Warmouth are native to Wisconsin and found in lakes in the Couderay and Chippewa rivers’ basins. Compared to other panfish, warmouth are never found in high abundance or great size in our area, and seem to mind their own business, likely eating insects and small crayfish.
“For anglers who enjoy diversity, they are just another species on the fishing bucket list!”
DNR fisheries biologist Skip Sommerfeldt says cold fronts made for inconsistent fishing last week.
“Most muskies completed spawning and are active on the deep edges of newly forming weed beds. Walleye fishing is best near dark with artificials and minnows on jigs and slip bobbers. Northern fishing is good around new weeds.
“Water temperatures in the low 60s on smaller lakes spurred bass spawning activity. Smallmouth fishing is catch and release in the northern zone until June 20.
“Some crappies are spawning in shallow, warmer bays, and bluegills should begin as the water warms.”

The Great Divide Ranger District of the U.S. Forest Service is hosting its annual free Kids Fishing Derby June 6, from 9 a.m. until noon, at Lake Hayward Beach and Park behind the Fresh Water Fishing Hall of Fame. The event is for youth through 15 years of age, includes a casting contest, and all kids receive prizes. Anglers should bring their own equipment, though loaners will be available if needed. Anglers from Hayward Bass Club and Walleyes for Northwest Wisconsin will be on hand to offer assistance. Sponsors include Sawyer County Outdoor Projects and Education (SCOPE), Walleyes for Northwest Wisconsin, Hayward Bait, and West’s Dairy. For more information, contact Kathy Moe (715) 634-4821.

The Hayward Lakes Chapter-Muskies, Inc. invites the public to attend its meeting Tuesday, June 2, starting at 7 p.m., at Coop’s Pizza. Following a general meeting, guess speaker Scott Toshner, DNR fisheries biologist for Bayfield County, will discuss musky lakes and the “fish sticks” habitat project. Interested in joining Muskies Inc.? Attend the meeting and purchase an annual membership for half price. For more information, call Mike Persson (715) 634-4543.

Musky anglers are catching fish from shallow to about 15 feet around new, green weeds and panfish in shallow bays near deeper water. Use small to medium size bucktails, jerkbaits, stickbaits, spinners, and Bull Dawgs.

Walleye success is fair to good, with best action in shallower water during evening hours. The fish are scattered, in depths from 6-28 feet, on weeds, wood, gravel, humps, bars, brush, and cribs. Top baits include walleye suckers, fatheads, crawlers, leeches, and Twister Tails on jigs or slip bobbers, and trolled and cast crankbaits and stickbaits.

Northern Pike:
Northern action is good to very good in 3-16 feet of water around weeds, points, bogs, and concentrations of panfish. Productive baits include northern suckers, spinnerbaits, spoons, crankbaits, and jerkbaits. Use bigger baits in deeper water for trophy pike.

Largemouth Bass:
Largemouth are spawning and you will find them in 3-16 feet of water around new green weeds, wood, and rock, near warm water bays. Slowly work crankbaits, jerkbaits, jigs, weedless plastic worms, and other plastics around the cover.

Smallmouth Bass:
Smallmouth action is good with fish in spawning mode. Work weeds, wood, rock, and gravel in depths to 15 feet with weedless tubes and other plastics, stickbaits, crankbaits, jigs, crawlers, leeches, and walleye suckers. Smallmouth fishing is catch and release in the northern zone until June 20.

Crappie fishing is good to excellent, with best fishing in warm, shallow bays during afternoon hours. However, you could find crappies in 2-10 feet or suspending over deeper water. Look for weeds, humps, and bars. Top baits include crappie minnows, various jig configurations tipped with waxies, plastics, and Gulp! baits, Beetle Spins, Mini-Mites, and Tattle-Tails.

Bluegill fishing is decent, if not somewhat slow, and improving with the warming water. Concentrate on shallow warmer, bays and check depths out to about 6 feet. Waxies, leaf worms, crawlers, plastics, Tattle-Tails, Mini-Mites, Gulp! baits are all catching fish.

Upcoming Events
May 20-26: Spring turkey hunting Period F.
June 2: Hayward Lakes Chapter Muskies, Inc., general meeting, Coop’s Pizza, 7 p.m. (715-634-4543).
June 5: Flambeau River State Forest Open House.
June 6-7: Free Fishing and Fun Weekend. Free fishing, free admission to all state parks, forests, and trails.
June 6: Kid’s Fishing Derby, 9 a.m.-noon, Lake Hayward Beach and Park, free (715-634-4821).
June 8: DNR Beaver Management Plan meeting, DNR office Hwy 27 South, 6-8 p.m.
June 20: Northern zone smallmouth bass season opens to daily bag limits (see regs).
June 25-28: 66th Annual Musky Festival (715-634-8662).
June 28: Hayward Bass Club Open Tourney, Round Lake (715-699-1015).
Through July 31: Illegal to allow dogs to run on DNR lands and Federal WPA (see regs for exceptions).

Hayward Lakes Visitor and Convention Bureau and Sawyer County Record co-sponsor this report. For more information on area events and activities, visit the HLVCB’s Calendar of Events or call 800-724-2992.