Outdoor Report

June 20, 2016

Hayward Lakes Area Outdoor Report

Steve Suman

This week’s forecast looks promising, with mild temperatures and mostly “minimal” chances for rain throughout the week. Let’s hope it holds – it’s about time!

“Musky action is rather slow,” says Pat at Happy Hooker, “with many follows, but few hook-ups.

“Use medium baits, slower retrieves, and vary colors during the day.

“Walleye fishing is best in early morning and late afternoon into dark. During the day, fish 10-20 feet with minnows, leeches, and crawlers. Fish northern in green weeds with live bait or spinnerbaits with white Twister Tails.

“For largemouth, fish weeds, docks, and structure with plastics and topwaters. For smallmouth, work crankbaits and crawlers on shallow sand bars and rock.

“Catch crappies on small minnows, plastics, waxies, and crawler halves in 7-15 feet. For bigger bluegills, work worms or wiggling plastics through deep weeds and sand bars bordering shallow weeds.”

Guide Steve Genson at Hayward Bait says musky fishing is good on the darker lakes.

“Points and bars are producing good action on topwaters, smaller bucktails, and gliders.

“For walleye, fish points and inside corners of new cabbage beds in 8-25 feet with weedless jigs and leeches or crawler halves, slip bobbers with leeches. Try trolling/drifting crawler harnesses during low light. Pike fishing is decent on spinnerbaits, spoons, and swim baits.

“Bass fishing is good on plastics worms, jigs/plastics, and topwaters out to 10 feet. Crappie moved deeper, with decent reports in 15-30 feet on small jigs and plastics. For shallow bluegills, fish leaf worms and leeches under bobbers.”

Mike at Jenk’s says muskies are active, but not overly aggressive.

“Cast smaller bucktails and spinnerbaits from deeper water into shallower water, covering drop-offs and bars.

“Walleye action is better, but mostly for smaller fish. Fish deep snags and brush during the day, and weed and stump bars at night. The bait choice is shifting to leeches and crawlers on harnesses in 10-12 feet, but some anglers still use minnows. Fish northern with crankbaits, spinnerbaits, spoons, and live bait in weeds in 10-12 feet.

“For crappies, fish crappie minnows, Mini-Mites, tube jigs, and Gulp! baits off floating bogs just before dusk.”

Jim at Minnow Jim’s says Nelson Lake walleye anglers are catching fish, though most are undersized.

“Jig leeches and minnows or troll and cast stickbaits along shorelines and river channels. Catch northern with larger Mepps spinners, weedless spoons, and topwaters. For largemouth, work creature baits, dressed swim jigs, and noisy surface baits on weed beds.

“Crappie action is best while drifting minnows, worms, leeches, or Gulp! Alive by bogs or structure at varied depths. Some bluegills are still spawning. Start shallow and go deeper if fish are too small.”


Variable weather made for tough fishing the past several weeks, says DNR fisheries biologist Skip Sommerfeldt.

“Musky fishing is best on smaller bucktails and gliders and small to medium suckers. The subsiding mayfly hatches allow a more consistent walleye bite. Work small jigs with leeches or crawler pieces along weed edges and mid-depth breaklines.

“Fish largemouth on weed and lily pad beds with topwaters and soft plastics. Smallmouth action is erratic, with a few fish still on nests, so catch and release remains a high priority.

“Catch crappies with small minnows under bobbers along shallow weed edges right before dark. Warm water temperatures kept bluegills on spawning beds. Use worms under bobbers or small Twister Tails.”

This week, DNR fisheries biologist Max Wolter discusses oddball fish in the Hayward area.

“Hayward area anglers are used to seeing mostly the same fish species, such as black crappie, bluegill, walleye, smallmouth bass, largemouth bass, musky, pike, white sucker, and yellow perch. However, there are some strange fish in a few of our lakes that anglers may not know about or would not recognize if they caught one.

“Indian Lake has a small number of lake chubsucker, a larger minnow with a sucker-like mouth. Spider Lake has a few banded killifish, which look like something you might get for an aquarium.

“Lac Courte Oreilles and the other lakes connected in that system have longnose gar, some of which can get very large, and greater redhorse, a large, rare species sometimes mistaken for carp.

“Chippewa Flowage has remnant populations of channel catfish and burbot probably dating back to when the area was a river.

“Even though you think you know what you are fishing for, do not be surprised to someday reel in something totally unexpected!”


The DNR’s spring ruffed grouse drumming survey indicates the populations is stable and perhaps now past the low end of the nine- to 11-year cycle. Both the northern and central forest regions showed increases in drumming activity, with the largest increase (8 percent) in the central forest, followed by the northern forest regions (4 percent). Weather conditions influence drumming activity by male grouse, and most observers this spring thought weather conditions were conducive to accurate surveys. For more information, search “ruffed grouse survey” on the DNR website.


Hayward Bass Club is hosting its Round Lakes Open Bass Tournament this Sunday, June 26, from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., with Grand Pines Resort the starting point. The field is limited to 50 boats, with the entry fee $100 per team. The contest has five cash winners and the payback is 90 percent, with 10 percent retained to fund the free August youth tournament. Anglers can drop entry forms and fees (cash only) at Hayward Bait, or contact Wayne Balsavich (405-227-1789; haywardbassclub@gmail.com) and bring entry fee to the tourney. The HBC will also accept entries and fees on site.




Muskie action is somewhat slow, though anglers are seeing many fish – just not enjoying many hook-ups! Work points, bars, and drop-offs in shallow to mid-depth water with small to medium bucktails, gliders, spinnerbaits, topwaters, and live suckers on quick-set rigs.



Walleye fishing is improving as mayfly hatches slow and the best fishing is early and late in the day into dark (as per usual). Depending on the lake, time of day, and weather, fish 7-32 feet in areas with new weeds, points, brush, stumps, shorelines, river channels, breaklines, and on inside corners. That covers a lot of area, but fish are scattered. Top bait picks include crawlers, leeches, and minnows on weedless jigs, harnesses, and slip bobbers, or cast and troll crank, stick, and minnow baits.



Northern pike offer good action around green weeds out to about 12 feet or so. Best baits include live bait (minnows), spinners, spinnerbaits, spoons, swim baits, crankbaits, and topwaters.


Largemouth Bass:

Largemouth are active and providing decent action for bass anglers. Try weeds, wood, lily pads, brush, and docks in depths to 10 feet. Top bait selections include soft plastics (frogs, worms, tubes, creatures, swim jigs), topwaters, spinners, spinnerbaits, and live bait.


Smallmouth Bass:

Smallmouth action is fair to good, though inconsistent. Find fish around beds (some still spawning) on shallower areas with sand and rock. Good baits to try include crankbaits, jigs/plastics, topwaters, and live bait.



Crappies are moving deeper (8-30 feet) and fishing is best before dark. Work weeds, weed edges, bogs, and other structure with minnows, waxies, crawler pieces, leeches, plastics, Gulp! baits, Mini-Mites, and tube jigs. Drift, troll, and jig until you find the fish.



Bluegill fishing is good, with some fish still spawning in shallower water. Larger fish are on deeper weedlines. Use waxies, worms, leaf worms, leeches, and plastics on small jigs/hooks under slip bobbers.


Upcoming Events

June 26: Hayward Bass Club open tournament on Round Lake (715-699-1015).

July 7-9: 63rd Annual Heart of the North Spooner Rodeo (800-367-3306).

July 14-17: 43rd Annual LCO Honor the Earth Pow Wow (715-634-8934).

July 27-30: 57th Annual Lumberjack World Championships (715-634-2484).

July 30: Flambeau River State Forest Campfire Cookout; demonstrations, samples, Connors Lake (715-332-5271).

July 31: Hayward Bass Club open tournament on Chippewa Flowage (715-699-1015).

Through July 31: Illegal to allow dogs to run on DNR lands and FWPAs (see regs).

August 7: Hayward Lakes Chapter Muskies, Inc. Annual Kids Fishing Day 9 a.m.-1:30 p.m. (715-634-4543).

Through Sept. 7: APG Species Master fishing contest (715-718-6438).


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.