Outdoor Report






 October 31, 2016

Hayward Lakes Area Outdoor Report

Steve Suman

This week’s forecast predicts highs in the upper 50s, lows in the upper 30s, and sunshine – after moving on from a drab, dreary, windy, rainy Monday. Take advantage of this unseasonably mild weather to extend the season of whatever outdoor fall activities you enjoy!

Guide Steve Genson at Hayward Bait says the leaves are down, but fishing remains quite good.

“Muskies are the primary target for most anglers. Large suckers on quick-set rigs are working very well and providing consistent action on steeper breaks and edges in 8-25 feet. Try large gliding jerkbaits and big plastics along the same edges, as well as vertical jigging Fuzzy Duzzits and Bondy baits.

“Walleye action is solid with walleye suckers fished on humps and breaks in 15-35 feet. Crappie action is getting better and better and anglers should focus on basins and edges in 20-35 feet. Vertical jig small jigs and plastics or drift crappie minnows under slip bobbers.

“Ruffed grouse hunters report great hunting from all around the area. Bird numbers are up and most hunters report 10-25 flushes per day around young poplar clearcuts and edges.

“Bow hunters are seeing more deer than in recent years. Action is heating up, with some bucks making lots of scrapes and chasing does, and hunters have already taken some big deer. Get out and enjoy the fall before it’s over!”

Mike at Jenk’s says Chippewa Flowage musky action is good and getting better.

“Musky anglers are catching some nice fish on suckers and jerkbaits around deeper river channel stumps, bars, and drop-offs. Walleye fishing is fair, but we need cooler water for fish to start their fall feeding frenzy.

“Smallmouth action continues to be good on Round Lake cribs for anglers using 4- to 5-inch sucker minnows on Lindy Rigs. Crappie fishing is picking up, with best action in morning and evening hours. Use jigs and one-inch Gulp! Minnows under slip bobbers for fish suspending in about 10 feet.”

Carolyn at Anglers All in Ashland on Chequamegon Bay says brown trout, coho, splake, and steelhead are moving into the Bay in waves as the water temperatures drop.

“Most trollers are fishing the shorelines, such as the head of the Bay and the Washburn shoreline from Bono Creek out to the Sioux and Onion rivers. Many anglers are flatlining stickbaits, though there is still action with spoons on Dipsey Divers and off lead core line. Casting spoons and streamers off the river mouths is also productive for trout and salmon.

“We still have two weeks for the tributary stream season and reports vary. Every time we get rain and the water gets a little color, fishing success improves. Spinners, small spoons, spawn, and flies are all producing fish.

“Smallmouth are schooling in their usual fall haunts, such as back of the breakwall, rock pile, off the ore dock, and the tip of Long Island. Most anglers are drifting large sucker minnows, but some report success ripping jigs and plastics. Walleyes are starting to school in deeper drops and anglers are mainly using minnows. However, ripping Hyper-Glides, Slab Raps, Shiver Minnows, and Jigging Raps can be quite effective.”

Wet, windy, rainy weather last week produced some challenging fishing conditions, says DNR fisheries biologist Skip Sommerfeldt, and this resulted in fewer anglers on the lakes.

“Muskies are the main interest and they are providing fairly consistent action and success. Most anglers are dragging medium, 12- to 15-inch suckers for fish in a variety of locations, including weed edges, mid-depth breaklines, and suspending near deep water. Action on artificials is hit or miss, with fish reluctant to hit fast-moving lures in the cooler water temperatures, and slower moving Bull Dawgs and gliders are the most productive.

“Walleye success is quite erratic, though anglers report catching a few mid-size walleye near mid-depth mud flats on medium sucker minnows. With the colder water temperatures, bass fishing is all but over for the year.

“For panfish, there is a slight surge in crappie action, with some decent fish suspending near mid-depth cover. Perch fishing picked up for anglers fishing large fatheads on mud flats and near old weed beds.”

This week, DNR fisheries biologist Max Wolter discusses the effects of tackle and time on catch and release.

“Anglers know there is always the right gear for a job, that too heavy of gear might detect fewer bites and too light of gear may not handle large fish, but how does gear strength impact catch and release? A new study out of Canada explores that question.

“Researchers caught bass on rods of various strengths, recording how long it took to play the fish in and how long it took the fish to recover. They released half of the fish immediately, but held the remaining fish for two minutes to mimic photo taking or an extended hook removal period.

“Not surprisingly, fish caught on lighter gear took significantly longer to land than those on the heavy gear. However, the researchers noted the fish caught on light gear were more ‘played out,’ which led to easier hook removal and the potential for a quicker release.

“The study’s conclusions indicate that time out of the water is more harmful to fish than being played for a longer amount of time in the water.

“Regardless, catch and release anglers should strive for as quick a fight as possible and a short time out of the water for all fish they plan to release.”

The DNR is asking hunters to record their observations of deer and other wildlife for the annual online Deer Hunter Wildlife Survey. The DNR encourages hunters to record all hunting activity, even if they see no wildlife during a hunt, to help measure abundance and track population trends for deer and other wildlife. At the end of the annual survey, participants receive a personalized summary of all recorded wildlife. The current survey ends in January. For more information, search “deer hunter wildlife” on the DNR website.

In Flambeau River State Forest, archery and crossbow deer seasons run through January 8 and game carts and drags are available at forest headquarters for free use to remove downed game. The forest has nearly 40 miles of ATV/UTV trails open through November 15, and they junction with Tuscobia Trail and Dead Horse Run to offer nearly 160 miles of trails. Check ahead for detours. Four ATV/UTV trailheads, some with amenities such as toilets, hand pumps, picnic tables, and fire rings, can accommodate vehicles and trailers. Lake of the Pines Campground is open through Dec. 15. The forest maintains 14 free river campsites, with 2-3 camping units per site. For more information, call (715) 332-5271.



Musky action is good, consistent, and improving as we enter the final month of the season. Concentrate efforts in 8-25 feet near/on the edges of breaklines, bars, drop-offs, weeds, stumps, and river channels, and look for fish suspending adjacent to deep water. Medium to large suckers on quick-strike rigs are producing the most success, though slowly worked artificials such as Bull Dawgs/big plastics, gliders, and jerkbaits are also tempting muskies.


Walleye action is fair to very good and improving with the cooling water temperatures. It is a jig and walleye sucker bite, and anglers should target humps, breaklines, stump fields, river channels, and mud flats in 15-35 feet.


Northern Pike:

Northern pike are still on the prowl in weeds at varied depths, hitting northern suckers, spinners, spinnerbaits, and spoons. Fish deeper water with bigger baits for trophy pike.

Smallmouth Bass:

Smallmouth action remains good near/on deeper weeds, rocks, cribs, and other cover. Sucker minnows on live bait rigs, plastics, and drop-shot rigs offer the best success.


Crappie fishing is improving with the cooler water and fish starting to school. Look for fish suspending in 10-35 feet near cover and on basin edges. The best baits and presentations include drifting crappie minnows and Gulp! Minnows on small jigs under slip bobbers and vertical jigging small jigs tipped with plastics.


Bluegill fishing is fair for anglers fishing waxies, worms, and plastics in weeds, brush, cribs, and other cover in varied depths. Try small minnows in deeper water for bigger bluegills.


Perch fishing is good and improving. Work mud flats and weed beds with jigs and split shot rigs tipped with fatheads.

Upcoming Events

Oct. 29: Raccoon hunting and trapping season opened for non-residents.

Nov. 1: Wild ginseng season closes.

Nov. 1: Hayward Lakes Chapter Muskies, Inc. general meeting, lure swap at Coop’s Pizza; 7 p.m. (715-634-4543).

Nov. 5: Trapping seasons open in North Zone: Beaver; Otter.

Nov. 6: Turn back your clock – Daylight Saving Time ends at 2 a.m.

Nov. 7: Woodcock season closes.

Nov. 15: Trout and salmon fishing closes on downstream section of Lake Superior tributaries (see regs).

Nov. 17: Fall crow season closes.

Nov. 19-27: Regular gun deer season (see regs).

Nov. 22: Duck season closes in the north zone.

Nov. 28-Dec. 7: Muzzleloader deer season (see regs).

Nov. 29: Mourning dove season closes.

Nov. 30: Seasons close: Muskellunge; Turtle.

Dec. 8-11: Statewide antlerless deer hunt (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.