September 24, 2018
Hayward Lakes Area Outdoor Report
Steve Suman

Cooler temperatures and possible moist weather are on tap for parts of this week, according to the forecast – but we all know from experience they never chisel forecasts in stone! Make plans (never hurts to have a Plan B and C!), and enjoy the North Woods regardless of the weather. Fall is a great time to experience all this area offers!

“Fishing is up and down, like the weather,” says Pat at Happy Hooker, “with most fish adjacent to deeper vegetation.
“Musky fishing is picking up as more anglers target big fish with live bait and bucktails. Anglers using topwaters report some success in early mornings and evenings.
“Walleye anglers are catching fish by trolling crankbaits and crawler rigs around deeper humps, drops, and breaks adjacent to weeds in early morning and late afternoon into dark. Fish are mostly on deeper transition corridors and starting to migrate.
“Northern pike and largemouth bass continue to roam the weed edges. Cast spinnerbaits, plastics, and topwaters to target these fish, as well as casting topwaters in early mornings and evenings to catch smallmouth.
“Crappies are showing up on weed edges and anglers fishing jigs and minnows are taking a few fish. Bluegills are schooling in 10-13 feet and action is good on waxies and leaf worms under slip bobbers.”

Guide Steve Genson at Hayward Bait says the weather is cooling, leaves are turning, and fishing is decent.
“Muskies are more active and moving shallow. Try big flats and bars with bucktails, jerkbaits, and topwaters, but the live bait bite is starting to go as well.
“Walleyes are deeper during the day and sliding shallow at low light. Troll crawler harnesses or work jigs and minnows, focusing on points, deep weed edges, and bars.
“Bass action is decent, with wacky worms, crankbaits, and swim jigs the best bet. Focus on the shallows and make sure to cover water.
“Panfish are starting to school in deeper water. Use electronics to look for scattered pods and then try small jigs with waxies, leaf worms, and minnows.”

Mike at Jenk’s says the Chippewa Flowage is at full level, with the water temperature in the mid-60s.
“Musky action is slower than usual for this time of year, but a few anglers report success on suckers as water temperatures drop. There are many reports of short hits and boil ups on blades, so try adding a stinger hook or use a tandem bucktail.
“Walleye fishing slowed last week, likely due to higher water temperatures, but we are now in a cool down. Minnows and crawlers, in that order, are the live baits choice, with Flicker Shads and Shad Raps solid trolling choices.
“Northern pike are still active, but small, and half-ounce Beetle Spins through and over the top of weed beds are best, though dropping some suckers down into the weeds is not a bad idea.
“Crappies are not yet schooling up in Moore’s Bay, but may start with the cooling water temperatures. In the interim, try deeper areas outside bays with crappie minnows, Mini-Mites, and Gulp! baits.”

This week, DNR fisheries biologist Max Wolter discusses angler preferences from an online questionnaire.
“An online questionnaire developed to get feedback from Hayward area anglers requested input about species and management preferences, and harvest versus catch and release. Nearly 500 anglers responded to the survey, yielding interesting results on species preference.
“The survey asked anglers to rate their fishing interest for all popular species present in Hayward area lakes as high, medium, low, or none, with the data used to develop a list of species ranked by angler interest.
“Not surprisingly, walleye was at the top of the list, with black crappie the second place species. Muskellunge appeared third on the list – and it is worth noting that not all lakes in the Hayward area have muskellunge. Next on the list, in order, were smallmouth bass, bluegill, yellow perch, northern pike, and largemouth bass.
“This type of data can help identify management priorities and it largely mirrors the preference data collected during management plan development for several area lakes. It is likely these results are unique to the Hayward area and do not reflect species preferences across the state.”

Fall hunting and trapping seasons are underway and the DNR offers a number of hunting and trapping forecasts to help hunters and trappers. Check forecasts online for the following species: Deer; Upland Game Bird; Migratory Bird Hunting; and Furbearer Hunting and Trapping. For more information, search “hunt” on the DNR website.

Hayward Lakes Chapter-Muskies Inc. is hosting its 41st Annual Fall Muskie Tournament Friday through Sunday, October 5-8 and there is still time to enter. Every entrant is eligible in the drawing for the Grand Door Prize – a 2018 Lund 1725 Pro Guide tiller, ShoreLand’r trailer, and 60hp Mercury motor. You must attend the Sunday drawing at Flat Creek Inn and Suites to win. The contest offers more than $30,000 in prizes, including gift certificates, GPS units, trolling motors, depth finders, rods, reels, cameras, and more, and awards prizes and trophies to the first 10 places, including a $1,500 gift certificate to Cabela’s and a $1,000 gift certificate to Hayward Bait & Tackle. The angler releasing the largest musky receives a graphite replica and every angler releasing a 34-inch or larger fish receives a plaque. Entry fees are $90 for adults and $25 for youth 16 and younger. Enter in person at Jenk’s (715-462-3055) or in person and by phone at Hayward Bait (715-634-2921) until 11 p.m. October 4. For more information, visit, or call (715) 634-2921; 634-4543.

Musky action is improving (it almost had to!) and bigger fish are finally starting to show some movement, though anglers still report mostly follows and not so many hook-ups. Target shallower weeds, bars, points, and flats with bucktails, jerkbaits, gliders, and topwaters, particularly during early mornings and evenings. In addition, suckers on quick-strike rigs are now getting some attention with the cooling water temperatures.

Walleye action is fair for most anglers. Concentrate on deeper weeds, weed edges, points, bars, breaks, drop-offs, and humps, with shallower areas best in early morning and late evening into dark. Minnows and crawlers on jigs, bottom bouncers, split-shot rigs, and slip bobbers are working, as is trolling Flicker Shads, Shad Raps, crankbaits, and crawler harnesses.

Northern Pike:
Northern pike continue to offer good action for most anglers – whether or not they are targeting the species! Look for them in and around weeds and weed edges in shallow to mid-depths, as well as near schools of panfish and baitfish. Best choices include spinners, spinnerbaits, spoons, Beetle Spins, plastics, topwaters, and of course northern suckers.

Largemouth Bass:
Largemouth bass action is good around shallow weeds, wood, docks, slop, and other cover, with casting and moving key. Plastics, wacky worms, swim jigs, crankbaits, spinners, and spinnerbaits are all productive presentations.

Smallmouth Bass:
Smallmouth bass fishing is good in shallow to mid-depths. Tubes, wacky worms, and other plastics in varied configurations, crankbaits, and swim baits are all effective, as are topwaters in early mornings and afternoons.

Crappie fishing is good to very good once you locate them. Check mid-depth to deeper weeds, weed edges, brush, bogs, and other structure. Top offerings include crappie minnows, waxies, plastics, Mini-Mites, Tattle-Tails, and Gulp! baits on small jigs and plain hooks, fished with or without slip bobbers.

Bluegill action is good in 8-15 feet and deeper around weeds, brush, bogs, and other structure. Waxies, worms, leaf worms, and crawler pieces on small jigs, teardrops, and plain hooks, with or without bobbers, are all producing catches.

Upcoming Events
Sept. 28-29: Cable Area Fall Fest (800-533-7454).
Sept. 29: Seasons open: Duck in Northern, Southern, and Mississippi zones; Canada goose in Mississippi River Subzone.
Sept. 30: Seasons close: Trout on rivers flowing into Lake Superior; Lake trout on Lake Superior; Sturgeon (see regs).
Oct. 5: Seasons close: Duck in Mississippi River zone; Canada goose in Mississippi River subzone.
Oct. 5-8: Hayward Lakes Chapter-Muskies Inc. – 41st Annual Fall Muskie Tournament (715-634-2921).
Oct. 6-7: Youth Deer Hunt for youth hunters 11-15 years of age (see regs).
Oct. 6-14: Hunters with Disabilities Deer Hunt (see regs).
Oct. 7: Seasons close: Duck in Southern Zone; Canada goose in South Exterior Zone.
Oct. 9: Black bear season closes (see regs).
Oct. 13: Seasons open: Duck and Canada goose in Southern and Mississippi River zones.
Oct. 14: Trapping seasons open: Coyote; Fisher (see regs).
Oct. 15: Inland trout season closes (see regs).
Oct. 20: Seasons open: Pheasant; Ruffed grouse in zone B; Sharp-tailed grouse (by permit); Bobwhite quail; Hungarian partridge; Cottontail rabbit; Raccoon gun and trapping (resident); Red and gray fox hunting and trapping; Bobcat hunting and trapping Period 1 north of Hwy. 64 (see regs).
Oct. 28: Seasons open: Muskrat; Mink (see regs).

For more information on area events and activities, visit the Hayward Lakes Visitor and Convention Bureau website, view its Calendar of Events, or call 800-724-2992.