Outdoor Report

July 4, 2016

Hayward Lakes Area Outdoor Report

Steve Suman


This summer is one for the Scouts – “Be prepared!” While the forecast does indicate some sunshine this next week, it shows more chances for rain and thunderstorms. Do not allow weather predictions to deter you from enjoying outdoor activities. Make plans, follow them, and be a good Scout and go prepared!


“Unstable weather does not help fishing,” says Pat at Happy Hooker, “but water levels are good, with temperatures in the low 70s.

“Muskies feed in weeds during the day, with short bite windows and no pattern – you just have to be there – and nearly any bait will catch fish.

“Walleye anglers report daytime success fishing leeches off weeds and drops in 8-17 feet. Northern are in weeds in 4-10 feet. Use walleye suckers, jigs/minnows, spinnerbaits, and crankbaits.

“Largemouth fishing is good near shallow weeds, piers, and other structure. Use plastics, spinnerbaits, and topwaters in early morning and late evening. Smallmouth are feeding on crayfish around rocks and hard bottom areas. Bounce crayfish crankbaits off the rocks, or use leeches for both bass species.

“Crappies are in deeper weeds, taking crappie minnows and tube jigs. Bluegills are hitting worms in the weeds.”

At Hayward Bait, Bob, Jim, and Sonya say fishing is improving now that monsoon season has passed!

“Musky anglers report success on bucktails and topwaters. Walleyes are hitting leeches on slip bobbers fished along weedlines in 10-14 feet in early morning and late evening, but try trolling stickbaits as well. For northern pike, fish along weed edges with spinnerbaits and spoons.

“Bass offer good action in 10-14 feet on leeches, spinnerbaits, plastics, and topwaters. Crappies are suspending and decent bluegills are in 8-10 feet on weeds and structure, taking live bait and plastics.”

Jim at Minnow Jim’s says Nelson Lake walleye anglers are catching fish on jigs and minnows.

“During the day, fish weed beds and the river channel; in the evening, fish rock bars and shorelines. Northern pike action is good in shallow weed beds with northern suckers, big bucktails, and white or chartreuse spinnerbaits. For largemouth bass, fish spinnerbaits, buzz baits, Chug Bugs, and topwaters on shallow weeds, wood, and lily pads.

“Crappies are scattered and drift fishing works best. Use crappie minnows, one-inch Gulp! Minnows, Beetle Spins, and Twister Tails. Bluegills are taking waxies, worms, crawler pieces, Tattle-Tails, and Mini-Mites along shoreline weeds, with bigger fish in 6-8 feet.”

Mike at Jenk’s says Chippewa Flowage musky action is steady on various baits.

“In early morning and evening, work baits slowly over weed tops, drop-offs, and humps.

“Walleye fishing is best in the evening around weed edges, stump bars, and humps in 6-8 feet on crawlers and leeches. Some anglers are fishing minnows deep during the day. Northern are in the weeds, with spinnerbaits and weedless spoons working best.

“Largemouth bass are lagging, but smallmouth are very active on spinners and poppers. Crappie fishing is a night bite at various depths around bogs with crappie minnows and one-inch Gulp! Minnows.”


Rain, wind, and cool nights made for erratic fishing, says DNR fisheries biologist Skip Sommerfeldt.

“Musky anglers are starting to get fewer follows, but more hits, on medium bucktails, gliders, and topwaters. Walleye fishing is tough, with late mayfly hatches providing abundant natural food. For best success, fish floating jigs tipped with leeches on deep weed edges and breaklines.

“Largemouth are moving to thick overhead cover and holding there for extended periods. Soft plastics and jig/craw combinations work well. Smallmouth are near mid-depth wood and under docks, and small plastics and tube jigs are very successful. Some nice crappies are suspending over deeper cover. Nicer bluegills are on deep weed edges.”

This week, DNR fisheries biologist Max Wolter discusses using circle hooks for smallmouth.

“The Hayward area has some of the best smallmouth bass fishing in the Midwest, particularly in some of our deep, clear lakes. As these fisheries became more popular, smallmouth required additional protection to maintain and enhance the quality fishing people have come to expect.

“On the DNR side, we proposed more restrictive size and bag limits on a number of good smallmouth lakes. This is in addition to the closed season during smallmouth spawning.

“Anglers can do something as well. Live bait is a popular method to get big, wise smallmouth to bite during tough conditions and we advise anglers using live bait to use circle hooks. Studies show circle hook use leads to much lower hooking mortality than with traditional ‘J’ hooks, only a slightly lower catch rate than with other hooks, and better survival of released fish.

“Anglers with an interest in conserving this awesome resource should, if they have not already done so, make the switch to circle hooks.”


For the 2016 hunting season, the DNR is making available 25 sharp-tailed grouse harvest permits for Game Management Unit 8 in northwestern Wisconsin. The deadline is Aug. 1 to apply for the permit drawing.


The DNR’s Public Access Lands atlas is great for locating all DNR properties and nearly all federal and county-owned lands. Download the maps at no charge, or search “atlas” on the DNR website for other options.


The 43rd Annual LCO Honor the Earth Pow Wow July 14-17 is an authentic Ojibwe homecoming tradition and celebration that includes music, dancing, crafts, and food. For more information, call (715) 634-8934.


During the 63rd Annual Heart of the North Spooner Rodeo July 7-9, pro rodeo contestants from around the country will vie for points and prize money. Their finish can affect qualification for other competitions, circuit finals, and the National Finals. There is great fun, food, music, and memories, with prizes and special happenings at each show. The Spooner Rodeo Parade has more than 100 units, including horses, bands, floats, fire trucks, politicians, prizes, kids, and more. For information, visit http://www.spoonerrodeo.com or call (800) 367-3306.




Musky action is fair to decent, with anglers reporting fewer sighting, but more hook-ups. Target weeds and humps near drop-offs and deeper water with bucktails, jerkbaits, gliders, minnow baits, and topwaters.



Walleyes feeding on mayfly hatches are still testing anglers’ skills and patience. Best fishing is in early morning and late evening into dark along shallower weeds, weedlines, gravel/rock bars, humps, stumps, and shorelines. During the day, fish deeper weeds, brush, breaklines, drops, and river channels with leeches and crawlers on slip bobbers or floating jig heads. Minnows still catch fish, as does trolling stick, crank, and minnow baits.


Northern Pike:

Northern action is good to excellent around weeds and concentrations of panfish in depths to 15 feet. Northern and walleye suckers are always good, but spinners, spinnerbaits, spoons, and bucktails can also pique persnickety pike palates.


Largemouth Bass:

Largemouth fishing is good to very good, with best action in morning and late afternoon. Concentrate on thick weeds, wood, lily pads, bogs, brush, slop, and docks from very shallow out to 15 feet. The most productive baits include soft plastics (worms, grubs, tubes, jigs/craws, etc.), spinners, spinnerbaits, and topwaters, and live bait under bobbers.


Smallmouth Bass:

Smallmouth action is good to very good, particularly on rock and/or other hard bottom areas in 8-17 feet. Live bait works well (use circle hooks), as do spinners, spinnerbaits, crankbaits, tubes, and plastics in crayfish colors, topwaters, and poppers.



Crappie fishing is fair during the day and best in the evening and after dark. Fish are suspending over/near deeper weeds, bogs, brush, and other structure in a variety of depths. Crappie minnows, tube jigs, waxies, Twister Tails, one-inch Gulp! Minnows, and Beetle Spins can all tempt fish on any given day. Keep moving until you find the crappies.



Bluegill action is fair to good for post-spawn fish. Find them in 4-12 feet around weeds, shorelines, brush, bogs, docks, and other structure. Waxies, worms, crawler pieces, Tattle-Tails, and Mini-Mites all work, Shallow water offers great fun for small fish, but for bigger ‘gills, work deeper water with bigger baits, including small minnows.


Upcoming Events

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 15: Turtle season opens statewide (see regs.)

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).

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

Aug. 6: Flambeau River State Forest Smokey Bear birthday party, Connors Lake picnic area (715-332-5271).

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

Through Aug. 31: Training dogs by pursuing bear allowed through August 31 (see regs.)

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 800-724-2992.