Outdoor Report

[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]July 18, 2016

Hayward Lakes Area Outdoor Report

Steve Suman

This week has the potential to be much better than last week (that is not asking much), but it could be a warm one. Do not become cabin-bound due to the weather. Check daily forecasts and enjoy the North Woods!

“Despite lingering effects from the big storm,” says Pat at Happy Hooker, “anglers report some success.

“Muskies are around weed edges and drop-offs in 6-10 feet. Fish topwaters in early mornings and late evenings. Walleye success is best in late evening into night when fish come shallow to feed. Fish 6-10 feet with crawlers and leeches. During the day, fish deeper holes and weed humps. On cloudy days, fish shallower weed edges. Northern will bite on about anything, but spinnerbaits work best shallow and around weeds.

“For largemouth bass, fish shallow weeds, docks, and lily pads with plastics such as frogs and rigged worms. For smallmouth, work tube jigs and crankbaits on deeper gravel/rocky areas.

“Small panfish are shallow; larger fish are on deeper weeds or edges. Use crappie minnows, worm pieces, or tube jigs.”

Guide Steve Genson at Hayward Bait says fishing is tougher with the rain and cooler temperatures.

“Muskies are still hitting topwaters and bucktails. Walleye fishing is much slower, though anglers continue to catch fish. Use leeches on slip bobbers or Lindy Rigs and slow troll crawler harnesses in 15-30 feet, depending on time of day.

“Bass action is very good. Start fishing in 5-10 feet with plastics and topwaters, focusing on weed edges, downed timber, and docks. Panfish are moving deeper but still biting. Small jigs with plastics and crappie minnows work best.”

Mike at Jenk’s says musky fishing seems less affected by the storm than walleye fishing.

“Muskies are hesitant to strike, but anglers report follows. Surface baits are effective in morning and evening. Try creepers on calm evenings. If a fish does not hit on a figure-8, something new might trigger a strike.

“Walleye fishing is tough as anglers are having trouble finding the fish. Look for cover on the bottom in 15-17 feet and deeper. Try trolling bottom bouncers with live bait, or Flicker Shads and Bad Shads. Northern pike action is solid despite the storm. For larger pike, fish far west end bays with silver and pink tinsel tail spinnerbaits and Johnson Silver Minnows.

“For crappies, fish deeper cribs, bogs, and brush.”

Jim at Minnow Jim’s says high water effects are subsiding and fishing continues on Nelson Lake.

“Walleye anglers should troll or cast stickbaits that rattle and/or wobble. For northerns, use large dressed Mepps, spoons, and surface stickbaits. Largemouth anglers are catching some nice fish on scented worms and frogs, spinners, and buzz baits. Drift fish for panfish with waxies, worms, leeches, or artificials on slip bobbers or jigs, varying bait depth.”


Carolyn at Anglers All in Ashland says Chequamegon Bay is chocolate brown, but fishing continues!

“Trolling remains quite good, unaffected by last week’s storm. There are several alternate routes to reach Ashland from the south, so be sure to check the detours.”


According to DNR fisheries biologist Skip Sommerfeldt, constantly changing weather and extremely heavy rain have made for some challenging fishing conditions.

“Musky action improved with the warmer temps and many anglers report a lot of follows, with topwaters and gliders the favorites. Walleye success is erratic, with best action in mid-depth weed beds and open pockets within the beds.

“Largemouth and smallmouth bass provide the most consistent success. Largemouth are still transitioning to wood, bog edges, docks, etc., and many are still holding near deep weed edges and cover. Use soft plastics and fast-retrieved crankbaits. Smallmouth are particularly picky in the lures that they will hit. Fish small finesse plastics on mid-depth woody cover.

“Panfish action is fair around mid-depth cover.”

This week, DNR fisheries biologist Max Wolter discusses the importance of plants for fish.

“Aquatic plants are an important part of a lake’s ecosystem. Plants provide cover for young fish, act as a food source for aquatic invertebrates – which fish then eat – and can be important spawning structure for species such as yellow perch and northern pike. In these functions, aquatic plants are beneficial to the fish community.

“However, aquatic plants at extremely high density can have negative impacts on fish. When plants become dense, it can provide excessive cover for young fish and make it difficult for predators to forage. The resulting conditions can lead to slow growth and ‘stunting’ of both predator and prey fish.

“Research in southern Wisconsin has shown that cutting back excessive aquatic plants to create open lanes can have positive impacts on the fish community. Growth rates of both bass and panfish in the experimental lakes improved shortly after the channels were cut, but the plants quickly re-grew, making such efforts costly and repetitive.”


People heading to the lakes should be aware of blue-green algae blooms peaking from July to September when there is lots of sunlight, high water temperatures, and little wind. All Wisconsin lakes contain blue-green algae, but it becomes a problem when forming nuisance-level growth. This may cause illnesses for those accidentally ingesting or inhaling water containing algae or experiencing prolonged skin contact. Search “blue-green algae” on the DNR website for more information.


The application deadline is August 1 for the following permits: Fall turkey, Horicon goose, otter, fisher, bobcat, Upriver Winnebago system sturgeon spearing, and sharp-tailed grouse. For the 2016 hunting season, the DNR is making available 25 sharp-tailed grouse harvest permits for Game Management Unit 8 in northwestern Wisconsin.


Hayward Bass Club (HBC) will host an open tournament Sunday, July 31, from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., on the Chippewa Flowage. The entry fee is $50 per team, with the field limited to 50 boats. The contest pays out five cash winners, top prize is $1,000, and payback is 90 percent. The club retains 10 percent to fund its free August 21 youth tournament. 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.




Musky action is fair to good, with the best chances for success in early morning and evening on weed edges and drop-offs in 5-12 feet. Bucktails, topwaters, and gliders work well, but most other bait types will also get attention.



Walleye action is slow and inconsistent. Some anglers are catching fish, primarily in low light conditions. During the day (if you insist), fish structure in 15-30 feet. In early morning and evening, fish 5-12 feet. Best areas, depending on the time, include deep holes, weeds, wood, humps, brush, bars, and shorelines. Leeches and crawlers on jigs, Lindy Rigs, split shot rigs, slip bobbers, and crawler harnesses lead the way, but crankbaits and minnow baits are also productive.


Northern Pike:

Northern pike fishing is good to very good around shallow weeds and bays and near panfish concentrations. Live bait works well, but the pike are also hitting spinners, spinnerbaits, and spoons. Fish bigger baits deeper for bigger fish.


Largemouth Bass:

Largemouth action is very good from very shallow out to about 10 feet on weeds, weed edges, wood, docks, lily pads, logs, bogs, and brush. Plastics in various configurations – worms, creatures, frogs, grubs, etc. – topwaters, crankbaits, and spinnerbaits are all working for largemouth.


Smallmouth Bass:

Smallmouth fishing is fair to good, though more challenging than largemouth. Look for them on weed edges, gravel, rock, wood, and other structure in varied depths, from somewhat shallow to deeper water. The most productive baits include plastics, tubes, crankbaits, minnows, crawlers, and leeches.



Crappie fishing is fair as fish move to deeper water and deal with storm effects. Look for them along deep weeds and weed edges, cribs, brush, bogs, and other structure. Best baits include crappie minnows, worms, plastics, tube jigs, Mini-Mites, Tattle-Tails, and Gulp! baits.



Bluegill action is fair to good, with small fish in the shallows offering consistent action. Bigger bluegills are around deeper weeds, brush, and other cover. Use small jigs with waxies, leaf worms, crawler chunks, tube jigs, and plastics.


Upcoming Events

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. [/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]