Outdoor Report

[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]September 12, 2016

Hayward Lakes Area Outdoor Report

Steve Suman


Showers and thunderstorms moved through the area early in the weekend, but Sunday brought mild temperatures and sunny skies. This week will be a mix of rain, sunshine, and moderate temperatures. It is starting to feel (and in some areas look) like fall in the North Woods!


“Falling water temperatures are slowly changing the fishing patterns,” says Pat at Happy Hooker, “and fish will start leaving the shorelines.

“Musky anglers are catching fish in deep water on Bull Dawgs, crankbaits, and gliders, and in the weeds with bucktails and surface baits. Try floating a sucker while casting. Walleye fishing is improving, with anglers fishing crawlers and fatheads on rock and weed edges and on drop-offs in 8-12 feet. Northerns are in the weeds, hitting spinnerbaits, crankbaits, swim baits, and sucker minnows.

“Largemouth are in shallow, heavy weeds and plastics, surface baits, and spinnerbaits all work well. For smallmouth, fish wacky worms on deeper brush piles, cribs, and rock.

“Crappies are moving to deeper weeds in 8-12 feet. Bluegills are in the weeds and waxies work best.”

Guide Steve Genson at Hayward Bait says musky action is picking up and fish are moving shallow.

“Main lake points and bars are still good, but try large, shallow flats in less than 10 feet with bucktails and quick retrieves. Walleye action is improving, with most action in more than 15 feet on trolled crankbaits, crawler harnesses, and jig/minnow combos on deep humps.

“Bass action remains solid. Largemouth are relating to the weeds in different depths. Smallmouth are grouping on rock and weed edges in 10-20 feet, and jerkbaits, tubes, and topwaters are all getting some action. Crappie fishing is good on crappie minnows on small jigs.”

Jim at Minnow Jim’s says Nelson Lake walleye anglers should try sucker minnows, fatheads, and stickbaits.

“Anglers are catching some nice northerns on spinners and Mepps, with white dressed combinations working best. Catch largemouth bass on frogs, swim baits, and spinners fished along weed and lily pad beds. For crappies and bluegills, drift minnows, waxies, worms, and Gulp! Alive near bogs and cribs.”

Mike at Jenk’s says Chippewa Flowage musky action is decent, with several large fish caught in the past week.

“Double-blade bucktails, Bull Dawgs, and SS Shads are producing the most success. Stay deeper, cast toward the shallows, and do not ignore deeper drop-offs. Walleye fishing is slow, though some anglers report success on crankbaits trolled in 20 feet just off the shoreline.

“Crappies are in a transition period and could start schooling in about two weeks.”


Continued erratic weather has kept anglers in a guessing pattern on whether or not to try it, says DNR fisheries biologist Skip Sommerfeldt.

“Musky fishing is good on most waters, with nearly all anglers experiencing some sort of action. The most productive baits are bucktails, jerkbaits, surface baits, and suckers fished along weeds and weed edges. Walleye anglers report the best action is with crawlers, leeches, and large fatheads on deep breaklines and structure in 10-15 feet. For northern pike, fish spinnerbaits along weedlines.

“Largemouth fishing is fair to good on soft plastics in mid-depth cover and shallower weed beds. Fish smallmouth near deep woody cover with crankbaits and finesse plastics. Some nice crappies and perch are near shallow cover.”

This week, DNR fisheries biologist Max Wolter discusses fall fish surveys.

“In September, DNR crews across northern Wisconsin will begin fall electrofishing surveys. These surveys can have a variety of objectives, but the typical use is to assess recruitment of walleye and muskellunge born earlier in the year. Fall shocking surveys are also a good chance to check the survival of walleye stocked in previous years.

“Ideally, crews conduct the surveys when the water temperature is between 50-60 degrees. If possible, crews electroshock the entire shoreline of a lake, which often means they use multiple boats on larger waterbodies. The DNR often conducts surveys in cooperation with the Great Lakes Indian Fish and Wildlife Commission crews.

“The DNR uses data from these surveys to make a variety of management decisions, including whether to start or continue stocking lakes, the most appropriate stocking rates, examining growth of different species, and setting safe harvest levels for tribal and angler harvest.”


Archery and crossbow deer seasons open Saturday September 17, with buck-only hunting in 10 counties in an effort to rebuild the herd in those areas. Other parts of the state, particularly farmland zone areas, have antlerless tags available. Hunters interested in using both a conventional bow and crossbow can pay full price for one license and purchase a $3 upgrade for the second license. Hunters use the same buck and antlerless tags issued with the first license. For more information, search “deer” on the DNR website.


Fall turkey and Zone A ruffed grouse seasons open September 17. According to DNR wildlife officials, the wild turkey population remains strong and seems to be stabilizing to available habitat. Grouse populations showed an increase in drumming activity this spring and it appears the population cycle reached the low point and is now rebuilding. For more information, search “turkey” and “grouse” on the DNR website.


The DNR’s New Buyer’s License offer is available to residents and nonresidents who have not purchased a license in the last 10 years. New buyer residents pay $5 for their license; nonresidents buy their license for half price. For more information, search “GoWild new buyer license” on the DNR website.




Muskie fishing is fair and improving, with fish on drop-offs, shallow and deep weed edges, points, bars, shallow flats, and suspending over deeper water. Top baits include bucktails, Bull Dawgs, crankbaits, gliders, jerkbaits, and suckers on quick-strike rigs.



Walleye fishing is fair to good and improving, with success better in rivers and flowages, and evening into dark is still the best time. Fish are scattered in 8 to more than 20 feet on weed edges, rocks, humps, drop-offs, and breaklines. The most successful offerings include crawlers, leeches, walleye suckers, fatheads, minnows, stickbaits, and crankbaits.


Northern Pike:

Northern fishing remains fair to good in and around weeds and weedlines in shallow to medium depths. Spinners, spinnerbaits, spoons, swim baits, crankbaits, and northern suckers under bobbers will all catch fish.


Largemouth Bass:

Largemouth fishing is good to very good, with fish in/around weeds, weed beds, rock, lily pads, and other heavy cover in various depths. Baits of choice include jerkbaits, swim baits, spinners, spinnerbaits, plastics, frogs, tubes, and topwaters.


Smallmouth Bass:

Smallmouth action is good in depths to 20 feet on/near weeds, wood, rock, brush, and cribs. Top producing baits include crankbaits, finesse plastics, plastic worms, jerkbaits, tubes, and topwaters.



Crappie fishing is good to very good in depths to 15 feet around weeds, bogs, cribs, and other cover. Best baits include crappie minnows, waxies, plastics, tube jigs, Mini-Mites, Tattle-Tails, and Gulp! Alive.



Bluegill fishing is fair to good in weeds and near bogs and cribs in shallow to mid-depths. Waxies, worms, and Gulp! baits are all catching fish.


Upcoming Events

Sept. 15: Early September Canada goose hunting season closes.

Sept. 16: Seasons open: Canada goose north and south exterior zones, Horicon Zone.

Sept. 16-17: Chequamegon Fat Tire Festival (715-798-3594).

Sept. 17: Seasons Open: Fall turkey; Deer (archery, crossbow); Ruffed grouse (Zone A); Cottontail (northern zone); Gray and fox squirrel; Crow.

Sept. 17-18: Youth waterfowl duck hunt (see regs).

Sept. 22-25: Youth Musky Hunt at Mystic Moose Resort.

Sept. 23-24: 15th Annual Cable Area Fall Fest (800-533-7454).

Sept. 24: Seasons Open: Woodcock; Duck in northern zone.

Sept. 30: Seasons Close: Trout on inland waters and rivers flowing into Lake Superior; Lake Superior lake trout; Hook-and-line sturgeon on inland waters (see regs).

Sep 30-Oct 2: 38th Annual Hayward Lakes Chapter-Muskies, Inc. Fall Fishing Tournament (715-634-2921).

Oct. 1: 38th Annual Stone Lake Cranberry Festival & Parade.

Oct. 1-2: Musky Tale Resort’s Crappie Quest (715-462-3838).

Oct. 6-8: Musky Fly Fishing World Championships (715-462-3874).


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. [/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]