Outdoor Report

May 30, 2016

Hayward Lakes Area Outdoor Report

Steve Suman

This spring seems filled with “chances for rain,” but is that unusual? The forecast for this week lists mild temperatures and varied chances for thunderstorms. Do not let “chances” for rain impede your outdoor pursuits. Go expecting sunshine, but prepared for wet!

“Once again, a chain of passing high and low fronts,” says Pat at Happy Hooker, “but it will maintain lake levels.

“For muskies, fish weeds and weed edges with small crankbaits, spinnerbaits, bucktails, and musky suckers on quick strike rigs. Walleye anglers are catching fish of all sizes. Northern are shallow and hit almost anything. Fish weeds and weed edges in 5-10 feet with spinnerbaits, crankbaits, or large minnows.

“Bass are shallow, sweeping for beds. Try small crankbaits. Largemouth season is open and there is no size limit on some lakes. Smallmouth fishing is catch and release until June 18.

“Anglers are catching small male crappie in the shallows on crappie minnows under bobbers, tube jigs, and Gulp! Minnows. For bluegills, shallow for spawning, use waxies, crawler pieces, crappie minnows, poppers, and surface flies.”

At Hayward Bait, guide Steve Genson says warmer weather improved fishing.

“Musky season is open and fish are active around areas where panfish are spawning. Use small twitchbaits, bucktails, and gliders. Walleye action is also improving, with decent reports on minnows and leeches on jigs – the smaller the better. Fish new weed growth and points. There is some evening action on trolled crankbaits.

“Bass action is good in the shallows with wacky worms, Texas-rigged worms, and swim jigs. Smallmouth are bedding in the clear lakes, but fishing remains catch and release in the northern zone.

“Crappie fishing is decent, though action slowed. Bluegills are moving to shallow, sandy, hard-bottom areas.”

At Minnow Jim’s, Jim says anglers are catching walleyes on fatheads, leeches, crawlers, and stickbaits.

“Northerns are hitting sucker minnows on bobbers, as well as propeller and surface baits. For largemouth, cast spinnerbaits, buzz baits, dressed weedless jigs, and poppers in/along weed beds and lily pads.

“There are many small male bluegills in the shallows. For larger ‘gills, move to deeper water and jig or bobber fish worms, waxies, Gulp! baits, or leeches.”

Mike at Jenk’s says Chippewa Flowage walleye action last week was a bit slower than usual.

“For walleyes during the day, fish irregular areas with snags on the bottom, starting at around 17 feet and adjust depth accordingly. In the evening, fish around shallow wood and stumps bordering the river channel. Best baits include minnows, leeches, Beetle Spins, Bad Shads, Flicker Shads, Rat-L-Traps, and Echos.

“For pike, fish weeds in shallow west end bays with northern suckers and chubs.

“Crappie action is intermittent as fish head for their summer patterns. Try bay mouths, just outside bays, cribs, and brush with crappie minnows, waxies, Gulp!, Mini-Mites, and tube jigs.”


This week, DNR fisheries biologist Max Wolter discusses increasing harvest and bag limits.

“There are many situations in which DNR fish biologists promote the harvest of a specific species because it has become too abundant, leaving the fish community out of balance., This is common locally with northern pike in muskellunge waters and largemouth bass in waters we hope to manage for walleye.

“In these cases, the DNR encourages anglers to increase their harvest. Anglers inevitably ask ‘If you want us to harvest more, why not raise or even get rid of the bag limit?’

“While that may be desirable – and attractive to harvest-oriented anglers – it is not something we can typically do.

“State statutes establish fish and game bag and possession limits. Increases beyond that level for any individual lake create legal and enforcement issues. It would not work to raise the pike bag limit to 50 per day on Lac Courte Oreilles while the statewide possession limit remains at 10.

“The need to increase bag limits for largemouth and pike is limited anyhow, since even with promoting harvest the release rates are still 85-95 percent.

“Just by getting average anglers to keep what they currently throw back, we can make big gains in controlling abundances of these species!”


Hayward Lakes Chapter Muskies, Inc. invites the public to attend its meeting Tuesday, June 7, at Coop’s Pizza in Hayward. Admission is free. Following a general business meeting at 6:30 p.m., featured speaker Max Wolter, DNR fisheries biologist for the Hayward area and Sawyer County, will discuss a variety of musky-related topics. Attend the meeting and purchase an annual Muskies Inc. membership for half price.


Wisconsin’s Free Fishing Weekend is June 4-5 and residents and nonresidents alike can fish anywhere in Wisconsin without a license or trout stamp. This includes all inland waters and Wisconsin’s side of the Great Lakes and Mississippi River. Bag limits, size limits, and season restrictions remain in effect. State parks and recreation areas are waiving entrance stickers for the whole weekend.

The Northern Great Lakes Visitor Center two miles west of Ashland on Hwy 2 will host a youth fishing tips and techniques clinic Saturday, June 4, from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. This event for youth 5-12 years of age offers instruction and advice from experienced anglers and biologists. Loaner tackle is available, or bring you own. Register the morning of the event. For more information, call Susan Nelson (715) 685-9983.

Les Voigt Hatchery just south of Bayfield on Hwy 13, will host a “Get Outdoors Day” Saturday, June 4, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Children (accompanied by an adult) will learn fishing basics such as knot tying, casting, safety by water, fish ID, how to clean and cook the catch, and more. For more information, call Darren Miller (715) 779-4021.


On Saturday June 4, the U. S. Forest Service Great Divide Ranger District and local fishing groups will sponsor a Free Family Fishing Day at Lake Hayward Park from 8:30 a.m. to noon. The event includes bait, tackle, lure making, casting games, and prizes. The area has a picnic area, playground, and handicapped accessible fishing pier. For more information, call (715) 634-4821.


On Friday June 3, Flambeau River State Forest will host an open house at Forest office headquarters on Hwy W, 15 miles east of Winter or 22 miles west of Phillips. Staff will be on hand from 7:45 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. to answer questions about the forest. For more information, call (715) 332-5271.




Musky season in the Northern Musky Zone opened this past Saturday, but there are few reports. Target weeds and weed edges, particularly around spawning panfish, with smaller crankbaits, spinnerbaits, bucktails, twitch baits, gliders, and musky suckers on quick strike rigs.



Walleye action is erratic, though improving, with some anglers reporting good success. Concentrate on structure, weeds, wood, and points out to about 20 feet, depending on lake, time of day, and weather conditions. During the day, use small jigs with small fatheads, leeches, and crawlers. In the evening hours, cast and troll stickbaits, crankbaits, minnow baits, and Beetle Spins.


Northern Pike:

Northern pike are shallow and on the feed in 3-10 feet around weeds, weed edges, and in bays, but particularly in areas holding spawning panfish. Live bait such as northern suckers under bobbers work best, but casting spinnerbaits, crankbaits, prop, and surface baits will all produce action.


Largemouth Bass:

Largemouth are in the shallows and offer good to excellent action. Work along shallow weeds and lily pads with plastics (worms in various riggings, swim jigs, etc.), buzz baits, crankbaits, spinnerbaits, and topwaters. Bass anglers should be aware that in the northern bass zone, smallmouth bass are catch and release only until July 18.



Crappie action is good in the shallows, though fish are moving to deeper water. Try weed edges, cribs, brush, and around bay openings with crappie minnows, waxies, tube jigs, Gulp! baits, Mini-Mites, and Tattle-Tails, with or without slip bobbers.



Bluegills are moving to shallow, sandy, hard-bottom areas for spawning purposes, but try somewhat deeper water for bigger fish. Baits of choice include waxies, worms, crawler chunks, crappie minnows, leeches, Gulp! baits, and poppers.


Upcoming Events

May 28: Musky season opened in North Zone.

June 3: Flambeau River State Forest open house 7:45 a.m.-4:30 p.m.; (715-332-5271).

June 4-5: Free Fishing Weekend – No license required!

June 4: Free Kids Fishing Derby, Lake Hayward Park; 8:30 a.m.-noon (715-634-4821).

June 4: Free Kids Fishing Clinic, Northern Great Lakes Visitor Center, Ashland (715- 685-9983).

June 4: Free Kids Fishing Clinic, Les Voigt Hatchery, Bayfield (715-779-4021).

June 7: Hayward Lakes Chapter Muskies, Inc. meeting at Coop’s Pizza, 6:30 p.m. (715-634-4543).

June 16-19: 67th Annual Musky Fest (715-634-8662).

Through June 17: Northern Zone smallmouth bass catch and release only.

Through July 31: Illegal to allow dogs to run on DNR lands and FWPAs (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 1-800-724-2992.