by: Steve Suman
While Northern Zone waterfowl hunters (season opened Sept. 23) surely welcomed the rain and cooler temperatures to start this week, current forecasts indicate a return to sunshine and mild temperatures Wednesday. After that... we will have to wait and see, but look for lows in the 30s and frost Friday night.
“Shorter days, dropping temperatures, and dying weeds will move fish to deeper water,” says Pat at Happy Hooker.
“Musky action is improving, anglers are catching a few nice sized ones, and every strategy is working. Try working deeper weed edges with bucktails, rubber baits, crankbaits, topwaters, and live bait.
“Look for walleye on the deepest weed edges and rock piles. Minnows work best, though crawlers will work until water gets colder. Early mornings and late evenings offer the best success.
“Catch northern pike in and around deeper weeds as shallow weeds start to die. Anglers jigging for walleyes often catch pike. Use smaller spinners, such as #3 and #4 Mepps, and safety-pin style spinnerbaits tipped with Twister Tail grubs are an effective choice.
“Largemouth are around structure such as downed trees and docks. Spinnerbaits and plastics will work and try casting topwaters in and around pads and reeds. Smallmouth are in and around rocks and jigs tipped with live bait or plastics will work, as will crankbaits.
“Crappies are schooling and in deeper weeds. Use slip bobber rigs with small minnows or plastics will work and go pre prepared to move as the fish move around. Bluegills are in shallow. Use slip bobber rigs with waxies or small pieces of worm. Perch are around deeper weeds and slip bobber rigs with minnows or leaf worm pieces should catch a bunch.”
Erik at Hayward Bait says the weather is unusually warm and beautiful for late September in the North Country and anglers report good success.
“Musky fishing is fairly strong and with good bite windows that may consist of simply sunrise/sunset, weather fronts, and wind direction changes. Bucktails and topwaters are the favored choices and suckers out the back of the boat will entice the muskies. Many anglers fishing suckers cast lures around good, shallow weeds. Sucker fishing is a 50-50 bite, so hang one out back ‘just in case.’
“Walleyes are scattered. Some anglers find success in the shallows during early morning and late afternoon into evening hours using jigs and minnows and trolling crankbaits. Other anglers report catching fish deep – in 20-35 feet.
“Bass are quite active, but what they want to eat changes slightly day to day. As the day transitions, fish 6-12 feet using spinnerbaits and plastics, with Texas-rigged and wacky-rigged plastics the most productive. In early morning and last light evening hours, try topwaters.
“Panfish action is consistent on mid-lake structure that holds good weeds. Fish the edges with jigs and your live bait of choice or Gulp! baits.”
Carolyn at Anglers All in Ashland says it is an odd fall and fishing on Chequamegon Bay is also ‘odd.’
“It wasn’t this warm during the summer! Some coho moved into the Sioux while trollers were not looking, so stream anglers are happy. There are also reports of coho, brown trout, and steelhead in the Brule and Cranberry. Many anglers are fishing with spinners, some with spawn, and flies are very productive.
“Trollers are doing okay on fish suspending in 30-60 feet, with the majority using Dipsey Divers and some using downriggers.
“Smallmouth have still not schooled in their fall haunts, but anglers are catching some beauties.”
This week, DNR fisheries biologist Max Wolter discusses the mix of muskies in the Chippewa Flowage.
“The Chippewa Flowage is a historic fishery and top destination for musky anglers in Wisconsin, and anglers should see more muskies there over the next few years.
“Surveys indicate a batch of tagged muskies stocked in 2013 show good survival and the fish are now 30-35 inches long. The largest fish in the batch (more than 12 inches at stocking) did exceptionally well and that information led to a goal of stocking more and larger fingerlings in 2016.
“In a cooperative effort between Hayward Muskies Inc. and Governor Thompson Hatchery, DNR staff produced a 2016 class of muskies with an average length more than 13 inches. Initial survival through their first year in the lake looks very promising and their distribution throughout the lake is very encouraging. Many fish moved miles from the stocking location and are finding good habitat to occupy.
“There is even more good news. Natural reproduction of muskies has been strong over the last few years, especially in 2016, and with a mix of stocked and natural born fish in the system, musky anglers should be excited about their future prospects on the Chippewa Flowage.”
Visit the Fall Color Report on the Travel Wisconsin website for the most current peak color information. Peak color in northern Wisconsin usually occurs during the last week of September and first week of October.
The DNR is encouraging deer hunters to participate in the Deer Hunter Wildlife Survey and record their observations of deer and other wildlife while hunting. Survey results help track deer and wildlife population trends. For more information, search “Deer Hunter Wildlife” on the DNR website.
Hayward Lakes Chapter-Muskies Inc. is holding its 40th Annual Fall Fishing Tournament October 6-8 on 17 lakes in the Hayward area. Every tournament entrant is eligible for the Grand Door Prize drawing for a 2017 Lund 1725 Pro Guide tiller boat, ShoreLand’r trailer, and 60 hp Mercury motor. The winner does not have to catch a fish, but must be present at the Sunday awards banquet to claim the prize! Anglers can win more than $30,000 in prizes that include gift certificates, trolling motors, depth finders, GPS units, rods, reels, cameras, and more. Angler releasing a 34-inch or larger fish receive a plaque. The angler releasing the largest fish wins a graphite replica. 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. Thursday, October 5. For more information, visit www.muskiesinc-hayward.org.
Musky:Musky action is improving and will only get better for big fish as the water (eventually) cools. Concentrate on shallow weeds and/or deep weed edges with bucktails, crankbaits, Bull Dawgs and similar baits, topwaters, and suckers.
Walleye fishing is fair to good, with fish distributed at various depths throughout the lakes. Early mornings and late evenings still offer the best success. During the day, target deep breaks, rocks, and weed edges out to 30 feet and deeper. Jigs with minnows or crawlers work well, as does trolling crankbaits.
Northern pike are in weeds, both shallow and deep, and hitting northern suckers, minnows, spinners, spinnerbaits, and spoons. Fish deeper water with bigger baits to target trophy pike.
Largemouth action remains very good – especially for this time of year – with fish holding around lily pads, brush, docks, and fallen trees in 5-14 feet. Fish the deeper water during the day. Bait preferences include spinnerbaits, Texas- and wacky-rigged plastics, live bait, and topwaters in the shallows early and late in the day.
Smallmouth fishing is good to excellent on rocks and other structure at various depths, with some shallow topwater action in early mornings and late evenings. During the day, use jigs with plastics (Texas and wacky rigged) or live bait, spinnerbaits, and crankbaits.
Crappie action is very good, but you will need to follow the moving fish around the lake. Look for them in mid-lake weeds, weed edges, and other structure containing weeds, as well as suspending over deeper water. The most productive baits include crappie minnows, plastics, Mini-Mites, Tattle-Tails, and Gulp! baits on jigs and/or under slip bobbers.
Bluegill fishing is good to very good in shallow to mid-depth weeds and other structure. Best baits include waxies, worms, crawler chunks, small minnows, and Gulp! baits on jigs and/or under slip bobbers.
Perch fishing is good on deeper weeds and structure. Use minnows, leaf worms, and Gulp! baits on jigs and/or under slip bobbers.
Sept. 23: Seasons opened: Woodcock; Duck in Northern Zone.
Sept. 24: Trout season closed on rivers flowing into Lake Superior (see regs).
Sept. 28-30: 2nd Annual Treeland Premier Musky Fly Fishing Championships (715-462-3874).
Sept. 29-30: Cable Area Fall Fest (800-533-7454).
Sept. 30: Fishing seasons close: Lake Superior lake trout; Sturgeon on inland waters (see regs).
Oct. 6-8: 40th Annual Hayward Lakes Chapter - Muskies Inc. Fall Fishing Tournament (715-634-2921).
Oct. 7-8: Youth deer hunt.
Oct. 7-8: Musky Tale Resort’s Crappie Quest (715-462-3838).
Oct. 7-15: Hunters with disabilities deer hunt.
Oct. 10: Black bear season closes.
Oct. 14: Seasons open: Pheasant; Ruffed grouse Zone B; Bobwhite quail; Hungarian partridge; Cottontail rabbit Southern Zone; Raccoon gun/trapping for residents; Red and gray fox hunting/trapping; Coyote trapping; Fisher trapping; Bobcat Period 1 north of Hwy. 64.
Oct. 14: Inland trout season closes.
Oct. 28: Seasons open: Muskrat statewide; Mink in North, South, and Winnebago zones.