Outdoor Report

[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]November 14, 2016

Hayward Lakes Area Outdoor Report

Steve Suman


Enjoy the extended fine fall weather the first part of this week, as it appears an abrupt change is in the cards for Friday and into the weekend. One forecast shows a high of 51 degrees Friday – followed by a high of 31 degrees Saturday! Deer hunters will appreciate snow this weekend for the start of gun deer season!


“It is a little cooler,” says Pat at Happy Hooker, “but water temperatures actually went up last week!

“Musky action is good, but not as consistent as anglers expect at this time, with best fishing when there is some wind and temperatures drop a bit. Sucker action is good, but also not as consistent as usual.

“Walleye fishing is good, though fish are not as concentrated as is normal for this time of year, as water temperatures delayed development of regular fall patterns. There is some good action on jig/minnow combinations in deep holes and drop-offs, although mostly for smaller fish.

“Crappie action improved, with fish deeper on mud flats outside of deep holes, and anglers report some good catches, as well as a few perch.

“Conditions are ideal with the leaves gone, but we heard fewer shots from grouse hunters last week and bowhunters report only moderate success.”

Guide Steve Genson at Hayward Bait says the warm weather remains and fishing is decent.

“Most anglers are targeting muskies, with large suckers on quick-set rigs worked through 15-30 feet around steeper breaklines working best. Jigging smaller suckers on jigs can also be effective.

“Anglers chasing walleyes are finding the most action fishing jigs tipped with walleye suckers in 20-40 feet. Crappies are active and schooling. Look for schools of suspended fish in 15-30 feet, with crappie minnows on small jigs the best bet.

“Bow hunting is a little slow with the warmer weather, but some deer are moving, and there are still plenty of grouse for good action and great table fare.”


Fishing activity continues to diminish, says DNR fisheries biologist Skip Sommerfeldt, even with the beautiful fall weather.

“Hunting opportunities abound, deer rut started, and most outdoor enthusiasts are spending more time in the woods or on their deer stands. When water temperatures dropped into the mid 40s, many anglers put their boats in storage.

“Then there are still many musky anglers trying their luck, with nearly all of them dragging around large suckers, hoping for that once-in-a-lifetime lunker. Fishing continues to be good, with many anglers finding muskies in a variety of habitats, from suspending over deep water to the edges of old weed beds to up shallow.

“A few walleye anglers still trying their luck report erratic success on the lakes and flowages, with a few catching ‘eater-size’ walleyes on large fatheads fished below dams on the rivers.

“There is a little surge in crappie and perch action, with crappies suspending in deeper water and perch active on mid-depth mud flats.”

This week, DNR fisheries biologist Max Wolter discusses smallmouth bass wintering areas.

“Anglers fishing larger rivers in northern Wisconsin know the rivers hold some of the best smallmouth bass fishing in the world. In the Hayward area, the Namekagon, Flambeau, and East and West forks of the Chippewa River all have fantastic smallmouth populations and offer great fishing throughout the summer.

“Once cold fall nights roll around, however, smallmouth fishing changes very abruptly and areas that held lots of smallmouth no longer produce fish.

“Where do they go?

“Research has shown that smallmouth use very different habitat in winter than they use in summer. Shallow, rocky stretches of river might be great summer spots for smallmouth, but in winter, the fish look for depth and low velocity.

“Good winter habitat for smallmouth is often a deep, slow moving pool, or a connecting lake, such as Moose Lake, which is a likely wintering spot for many West Fork Chippewa smallmouth.

“Smallmouth prefer these habitats in winter because they are safe from ice and fish do not have to expend as much energy as they would in an area with fast current.”


Gun deer season opens Saturday Nov. 19 and the DNR expects a good hunt. Archery and crossbow harvest is up from last year and some hunters report seeing an increased numbers of deer. A number of new rules are in effect this year and the DNR encourages hunters to review them in the online document “Deer Hunt 2016 – What do you need to know?” Hunters can also review live chats relating to deer hunting online. Hunters who are new to hunting or who did not register a deer last year should pay particular attention to information relating to electronic registration of harvested deer. Bonus antlerless deer permits, where available, are zone, DMU, and land-type specific. These permits cost $12 for residents, $20 for nonresidents, and $5 for youth (ages 10-11). Residents who have never purchased a deer license or have not purchased a resident hunting license in the past 10 years can do so for as little as $5. Hunters in the Clam Lake area should watch for elk – some of this year’s calves are about the size of a whitetail deer – and it is currently illegal to shoot an elk in Wisconsin. For more information, search “deer” on the DNR website.




Late fall is trophy musky time and fishing is good, though the warmer water seems to have somewhat tempered the action. You can find fish in various locations on any given lake, from shallow to suspending over deep water to breaklines to weed beds. A sucker on a quick-strike rig is the top producing bait and presentation, though some anglers continue to use artificials with some success.



Walleye action is fair to good, but still inconsistent. Fish are somewhat scattered in 18- 30 feet and deeper, in and around holes, drop-offs, and breaklines. Use jigs tipped with walleye suckers or large fatheads, though crankbaits can also work well. Do not overlook the rivers, especially below the dams.


Northern Pike:

Northern pike action is good around weeds and panfish concentrations at various depths. Northern and walleye suckers, spinners, spinnerbaits, stickbaits, and spoons all work. For trophy fish, fish bigger baits in deeper water.


Smallmouth Bass:

This is a terrific time of year for smallmouth fishing, but few anglers are fishing for them – or they are keeping it a secret. The action can be amazing once you locate the smallmouth – read DNR fisheries biologist Max Wolter’s informative piece in the upper section.



Crappie action is fair to good and improving as fish are now schooling and suspending in 10-28 feet and deeper water. Crappie minnows, waxies, plastics, and Gulp! baits on small jigs under slip bobbers all work for crappies.



Panfish anglers are picking up a few perch on mid-depth weeds, weed edges, mud flats, and in some of the same areas holding walleyes. Try waxies, crawlers, and fatheads on small jigs.


Upcoming Events

Nov. 15: Trout and salmon fishing closed 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: Muzzleloader deer season opens (see regs).

Nov. 29: Mourning dove season closes.

Nov. 30: Seasons close: Muskellunge; Turtle.

Dec. 1: Lake trout season on Lake Superior opens.

Dec. 7: Seasons close: Muzzleloader deer; Bobwhite quail.

Dec. 8-11: Statewide antlerless-only deer hunt (see regs).

Dec. 10: Application deadline: Spring turkey, Bear.

Dec. 16: Seasons close: Canada goose in north zone and Horicon zone period 2.

Dec. 24-Jan. 1: Antlerless-only Holiday Hunt (see regs).

Dec. 25: Bobcat hunting/trapping period 1 season closes.

Dec. 26: Bobcat hunting/trapping Period 2 north of Hwy. 64 opens.

Dec. 31: Seasons close: Pheasant; Turkey; Hungarian partridge; Fisher trapping; Frog.

Jan. 3: Hayward Lakes Chapter Muskies, Inc. business meeting (715-634-4543).

Jan. 8: Archery and crossbow deer seasons close.


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]