Outdoor Report

[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]July 3, 2017

Hayward Lakes Area Outdoor Report

Steve Suman


This week “could” be the best of this summer (so far) IF the forecast comes to fruition. Sunny, warm, and mostly dry (chances of showers and t-storms possible), with highs in the upper 70s and 80s and lows in the upper 50s and lower 60s. Get out and enjoy this great weather and all the North Woods offers for outdoor recreation!


“As cold fronts continued to pass through the area,” says Pat at Happy Hooker, “one might have thought it was still April.

“Musky anglers report many follows, but few hookups, with most action on smaller bucktails, surface baits, and deep running baits off weeds. Look for better action and some good night fishing when the water warms.

“Walleye fishing is fair on fatheads, leeches, and crawlers around weeds in 10-15 feet, with best fishing in shallower water just before dusk into nighttime.

“Northern action is very good in the weeds, their primary summer feeding area, and cold fronts do not seem to affect them.

“Bass fishing is especially good for largemouth in/around weeds, docks, piers, and all types of structure out to 10 feet. Plastics of all types, surface baits, and leeches all work well. Smallmouth are on deeper rocks and hard bottom areas eating crayfish. Use crayfish imitations such as tube jigs and other plastics, crankbaits bounced off rocks, and leeches.

“Crappies are hitting crappie minnows in mid-depth weeds and on shoreline cover when the water warms. The many small bluegills are taking worms in shallow weeds. Catch perch in weeds and on mudflats with leeches and leaf worms.”


Jim at Minnow Jim’s says Nelson Lake walleye fishing is steady both above and below the dam.

“Use leeches and minnows, troll the channel in midday, and cast stickbaits early and late in the day. Anglers using bucktails, spinners, and large plugs are catching some nice northern pike.

“For largemouth bass, toss dressed swim jigs, spinners, scented rubber bodies, and plastic frogs.

“Crappies are scattered. Drift near structure jig- and bobber-fishing waxies, worms, leeches, and Gulp! baits until you locate the fish. Bluegills finished spawning, so fish out from shore with live bait and artificials on small jigs and hooks.”


Mike at Jenk’s says Chippewa Flowage musky fishing is steady, though not explosive.

“Most action is on bucktails and swimbaits in shallow weed beds and on breaks. Muskies are typically not far from their food and bluegills are in the shallows. If you know where panfish action is good, muskies might be in the area.

“Walleye fishing remains constant, with a few keepers here and there. Leeches are out-producing crawlers and minnows, while shad-style crankbaits are triggering strikes on breaks and bogs.

“Northern pike fishing is excellent, with anglers for all species reporting pike action, and sizes ranging from hammer handles up to mid-30s fish. For large fish, target the west end with spinnerbaits.

“Largemouth bass are a bit quiet, but smallmouth remain active on wood and rock, with Chigger Craws, Senkos, and frogs producing the most action. If fishing is tough, try crawlers in the cribs, especially during mid-day.

“Crappies are pushing into summer spots and the bite typically starts around 8 p.m. on bogs, brush piles, and cribs. Crappie minnows, Crappie Scrubs, and Gulp! Minnows are the baits of choice.”


This week, DNR fisheries biologist Max Wolter discusses smallmouth spawning site selection.

“Anglers fishing the clear lakes of northern Wisconsin in spring have a hard time missing smallmouth bass on their nests. Male smallmouth scoop out dish-like nests on the lake bottom and attempts to attract females to come lay eggs there. The males guard these areas ferociously, making smallmouth particularly vulnerable to anglers.

“Studies show that smallmouth have a high degree of spawning site fidelity, meaning that most smallmouth return to the same area to spawn year after year.

“In one study, nearly half of the tracked smallmouth returned to spawn within 70 feet of where they spawned the previous year. Less than 10 percent of the smallmouth moved a quarter mile or more from their previous site and sought out an entirely new spawning location.

“Nest site fidelity such as this is also common in birds. Whether it is a robin building a nest in your tree or a smallmouth under your dock, you may get the same visitor from year to year.”


A great way to enjoy the July Fourth holiday week in the North Woods is to test your fishing luck. The Wisconsin DNR offers a $5 first-time buyer resident fishing license to residents (nonresident first-time license $25.75) who have never (or not in at least 10 years) purchased a Wisconsin fishing license. One-day licenses costs $8 for residents and $10 for nonresidents – which the state will later credit toward the purchase of an annual license. To fish Wisconsin waters, anglers 16-89 years of age must have a fishing license. Residents and nonresidents age 15 years and younger and residents born before Jan. 1, 1927 fish free in Wisconsin. Resident members of the U.S. Armed Forces on active duty and on furlough or leave may obtain a free fishing/small game license at any license agent by providing proof of active service and furlough. For more information, search “license” on the DNR website.




Musky fishing is fair, though most anglers are seeing quite a few fish, but the challenge is getting those fish to hit the baits. Look for muskies around shallow weeds, weed beds, and weedlines, breaklines, and near panfish concentrations. The most productive baits include small bucktails, swimbaits, stickbaits, crankbaits, and topwaters.



Walleye fishing is fair to good, with best success – as is usually the case – in late evening into after dark. Concentrate on weeds, weedlines, bogs, and breaks in 8-18 feet. Top bait choices include fatheads, walleye suckers, leeches, and crawlers on jigs, split shot rigs, and live bait rigs, and cast and trolled stickbaits and crankbaits.


Northern Pike:

Northern pike fishing is very good to excellent in shallow to mid-depth weeds and anywhere you find panfish concentrations. Bucktails, spinners, spinnerbaits, spoons, stickbaits, surface baits, and northern suckers under bobbers are all productive offerings. For trophy pike, fish bigger baits in deeper water.


Largemouth Bass:

Largemouth action is good to very good around shallow to mid-depth weeds, weedlines, wood, docks, downed trees, brush, bogs, and other structure. Largemouth are hitting a variety of baits, including plastics in most configurations, swim jigs, spinners, topwaters/frogs, leeches, and crawlers.


Smallmouth Bass:

Smallmouth bass action is fair to good, with fish holding on deeper wood, rock, and other hard bottom areas, as well as cribs. Plastics, particularly crawfish imitations, worms in various riggings, tubes, crankbaits, topwaters/frogs, leeches, and crawlers will all entice smallmouth bass.



Crappie fishing is fair to good, with fish in various locations and depths. Try deeper weeds, shoreline structure, docks, brush, bogs, and cribs. Crappie minnows, worms, leeches, plastics, Tattle-Tails, Mini-Mites, and Gulp! baits are the baits of choice. Best success is in late afternoon and evening hours.



Bluegill action is good to very good in shallow weeds and somewhat deeper water as the ‘gills finish spawning. Waxies, worm, leaf worms, plastics, and Gulp! baits on jigs and plain hooks will all catch bluegills.



Perch fishing is good in/on/around weeds and flats with waxies, leaf worms, leeches, and minnows.


Upcoming Events

July 14-16: Honor The Earth Pow Wow (715-634-8924).

July 15: Turtle season opens (see regs).

July 20-22: Lumberjack World Championships (715-634-2484).

July 29: Flambeau River State Forest “Campfire Cookout” at Connors Lake picnic area (715-332-5271).

July 29-Aug. 5: Wisconsin Canoe Heritage Museum kayak building class (715-635-2479).

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

Aug. 1: Application deadline: Fall turkey; Bobcat; Fisher; Otter; Sharp-tailed grouse.

Aug. 12: Flambeau River State Forest Smokey Bears’ Birthday Party at Connors Picnic Area; noon (715-332-5271).

Aug. 14-17: Bonus unit-specific antlerless deer tags where available go on sale at 10 a.m.

Aug. 17-20: Sawyer County Fair (715-934-2721).

Aug. 22: Deadline to transfer Class A bear license to a youth hunter.

Aug. 26: Remaining fall wild turkey permits go on sale at 10 a.m.

Through Aug. 31: Training dogs by pursuing bear (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. [/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]