by: Steve Suman
Clear, cool (frost!), and mostly dry weather appears to be in store for the Hayward area this week. The forecasts make only slight mention of rain chances for late in the week and weekend. Get out now and enjoy these mostly mild temperatures while they exist – it will not last forever!
“Weather wise, it has certainly been a crazy couple of weeks!” says Pat at Happy Hooker.
“Musky fishing is good on the weed edges with bucktails, Bull Dawgs, topwaters, trolled crankbaits, and suckers on quick-strike rigs. Sucker action gets better as the water cools.
“Walleye anglers should concentrate on deep weed edges, rocks, and breaklines. Minnows and crawlers on jigs, Lindy Rigs, live bait rigs, and spinners will entice the fish.
“Northern pike anglers report good action on shallow to mid-depth weeds with northern suckers, spinners, spinnerbaits, and spoons tipped with Twister Tails. Smallmouth fishing is good on hard bottom areas in varied depths, with best success on plastics, crankbaits, and live bait.
“Crappies are in/near shallow and deep weeds and other structure. Some are schooling and some are suspending over deeper water. Try small jigs with plastics or minnows on slip bobbers, drifting slowly over deep water. Bigger bluegills around deeper weeds are taking worms and waxies under slip bobbers. For perch, fish deeper weeds with minnows and leaf worms under slip bobbers.”
Erik at Hayward Bait says lakes are high for this time of year, with Chippewa Flowage the exception due to the winter drawdown, and water temperatures are dropping slowly.
“Musky anglers report good catches on steep breaks along points and bars with larger jerkbaits, crankbaits, plastics such as Bull Dawgs, and tubes. Suckers on quickset rigs are working and become more effective as fall progresses.
“Walleye fishing remains tough. Try 20-40 feet on clear lakes and slightly shallower on dark water. Use jigs/minnows on slip bobbers along deeper bars and points and look for baitfish.
“Northern pike are active on deep weedlines and swimbaits and slow-rolling spinnerbaits should work. Smallmouth fishing is decent with large suckers, tubes, drop-shot rigs, and jerkbaits on deep rocks and cribs.
“Crappie fishing is solid in deeper winter basins for anglers using small plastics or minnows on tungsten jigs.
“Bear season is wrapping up with reports of many nice bear taken throughout the area. Archery deer season is underway, with numbers much better than in recent years.”
Mike at Jenk’s says Chippewa Flowage musky action is solid.
“Vexers are the number one casting bait, with Headbangers, Warlocks, and Suicks strong options. Mattlocks remain the top trolling bait, though 10-inch Jakes are producing some nice fish. Muskies follow the food supply in fall when bulking up for winter, so find the baitfish – and schooling crappies are a great place to start.
“Walleyes are active, but larger ones seem dormant and waiting to get more aggressive. Minnows and crawlers are best, though some larger swimbaits and Flicker Shads are producing results.
“Northern pike fishing remains strong in the weeds on suckers and spinnerbaits. Bass are quiet on the Flowage, but Round Lake bass are very active in the cribs on 3- to 4-inch suckers.
“Crappies are schooling, but activity slowed, perhaps due to recent weather fronts. Crappie minnows are the bait of choice, but Crappie Scrubs and tube jigs, particularly yellow, green, and black, are getting interest.”
Carolyn at Anglers All in Ashland says Chequamegon Bay water temperatures are finally dropping into the 50s and the fish are responding!
“Smallmouth fishing picked up last week as fish started to school in some of their normal fall haunts. Anglers report success on sucker minnows, though ripping jigging spoons is effective at times.
“Walleye anglers drifting sucker minnows are catching fish on drops into the channel between Ashland lighthouse and Long Island.
“Trollers are finding coho and brown trout suspending at 10-20 feet over 15-60 feet of water and catching fish on spoons, flies, and stickbaits on downriggers, Dipsey Divers, and flat lines. If a mudline is visible, work the edge.
“Tributary streams are high and dirty from the rain, but coho and brown trout numbers are great, along with a few steelhead. Spawn, spinners, crawlers, and flies are all effective.”
This week, DNR fisheries biologist Max Wolter discusses private interest in ‘fish sticks.’
“Fish sticks provide various benefits for fish and wildlife and present attractive fishing spots for anglers. During this past winter, the Hayward DNR fish team worked on near-shore fish sticks habitat projects on a handful of area lakes, including state and county owned shorelines and islands on the Chippewa Flowage and Nelson and Windigo lakes. We plan work for state-owned islands on Spider Lake this winter, should ice conditions allow.
“These kinds of habitat projects on DNR or county owned shorelines are relatively easy, generally popular with anglers, and DNR staff can do the work. Conversely, in lakes with little or no publicly owned shorelines, there are fewer opportunities for the DNR or county to take the lead.
“In these instances, we are relying on private shoreline owners to take interest in shoreline habitat restoration, but based on numbers of permit applications received to date, very little interest from private shoreline owners has occurred.”
The DNR is encouraging people interested in wildlife management to sign up for one of a number of carnivore tracking and wolf ecology classes offered statewide. Tracking class students learn to identify the tracks of medium to large carnivores and some other common mammals inhabiting Wisconsin. Wolf ecology classes cover wolf history in the state, biology, ecology, monitoring, management, and research. Students must complete both classes to participate as a volunteer tracker. For more information, search “carnivore tracking courses” on the DNR website.
Deerfoot Lodge and Resort is hosting it first ever Ladies Musky Fishing School October 20-22. Participants receive goodie bags, a chance to win a $250 Cabela’s gift card, and an education on how to catch and handle muskies. The course fee is $35 and lodging packages are available if you have to travel to attend. For more information and/or to register for the course, visit www.deerfootlodge.com, email email@example.com, or call (715) 462-3328).
The Hayward Chapter of Fishing Has No Boundaries is hosting its fall all you can eat spaghetti feed fundraiser Saturday, October 14, from 4:30-8:30 p.m., at Flat Creek Inn & Suites. The event includes a live auction, door prizes, raffle prizes (tickets $5/each; 3/$10), and the Grand Prize drawing at 8:30 p.m. for a Tetra-Pod 1 foldable jon boat. Dinner tickets cost $8/ages 10 and older and $4/ages 2-9 years. For more information, call (715) 634-3185.
Musky fishing is good to very good and only getting better with the cooling water temperatures. During this past weekend’s Hayward Muskies Inc. fall tournament, 66 of 440 anglers registered 80 muskies, close to a 20-percent success rate that is almost double normal musky tournament expectations. The fish are hitting! Target deep weed edges, steep breaks, points, bars, and panfish concentrations. Best baits include bucktails, large plastics such as Bull Dawgs, tubes, crankbaits, jerkbaits, stickbaits, and live suckers. Trolling is also producing good catches.
Walleye are scattered and the bite is inconsistent (surprise!), with mornings and evening still providing the best odds. Look for fish on/along deep bars, points, breaks, rocks, and weed edges. Fish are deeper on clear the lakes. Anglers who are catching fish use minnows and crawlers on slip bobbers, spinners, and Lindy Rigs, as well as swimbaits, stickbaits, and crankbaits.
Northern pike action is good to very good in and around weeds, both shallow and deep, and panfish concentrations. Spinners, spinnerbaits, spoons, swimbaits, soft plastics, and northern suckers can all grab the attention of pike. Use bigger baits in deeper water for trophy pike.
Largemouth activity is slowing and so is anglers’ fishing interest. However, you can find largemouth around various types of deeper structure such as weeds, brush, and downed trees. Use spinners, spinnerbaits, plastics, and live bait.
Smallmouth action is fair to good on mid-depth to deep rocks and cribs. Anglers report success on sucker minnows, crawlers, tubes, crankbaits, jerkbaits, plastics, and drop-shot rigs.
Crappie fishing is good to very good, with fish schooling and/or suspending in various depths from shallow to deep. Top producing baits include jigs and crappie minnows, small plastics, tube jigs, Mini-Mites, Tattle-Tails, Crappie Scrubs, and Gulp! baits.
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. 14: 2017 Crex Meadows Fall Wildlife Festival (715-463-2739).
Oct. 28: Seasons open: Muskrat statewide; Mink in North, South, and Winnebago zones.
Nov. 11: LCO Veterans Powwow (715-634-8934).