By: Steve Suman
It’s been a hot time in the North Woods, but this week’s forecast shows rain chances possible throughout the week, with cooler temperatures breaking the “warm” spell. For a change, it appears the weekend will see very nice conditions for most outdoor activities. Summer weather is here – take advantage of it!
“Great fishing is happening now,” says Pat at Happy Hooker, “and the bite is good for most species of fish, with most partaking in their usual spring patterns. Even better, things should remain consistent for some time.
“Muskies have just come off spawn and are moving a little slow. Use small to midsize baits with slow retrieves.
“Walleye fishing is productive in mid depths with jigs and minnows or plastics, as well as trolled #5 crankbaits in assorted colors. Soon, worm harnesses and bottom bouncers will be the go-to tactics. The best time is early mornings and late afternoon into dark when fish come shallow to feed.
“Northern pike and largemouth bass are following spawning panfish into the shallows. Cast spinnerbaits and plastics over weed tops along the shorelines.
“Area lakes are showing signs of great panfish bites in shallow water. Crappies continue to seek out spawning areas and anglers are catching fish with crappie minnows under slip bobbers in 18 inches to 3 feet of water. Bluegills will follow the crappie spawn and there are already reports of some nice bluegill catches.”
Bob at Hayward Bait says fishing is strong and water temperatures are climbing quickly.
“The walleye bite is slower, but still good. Fish shallow early and late in the day, casting crankbaits, swimbaits, or jigs and minnows around emerging weeds and gravel bars.
“Northern pike fishing is a little slow, but still offering decent action. Work weed flats and humps with spinnerbaits, crankbaits, and swimbaits.
“Largemouth bass action is solid around shallow solid cover such as docks and wood, as well as new weeds. Swim jigs, wacky worms, and topwaters will all put fish in the boat.
“Smallmouth are starting to bed and jerkbaits and plastics are your best bet. Remember smallmouth fishing is catch and release only until the third week of June.
“Crappies are finishing spawning and sliding deeper, while bluegills are starting to move into the shallows to bed.
“Trout anglers report success with small spinners and flies.”
Mike at Jenk’s says the Chippewa Flowage is at full level and the water temperature is 72-75 degrees.
“It was a good start to musky season, with most catches on smaller spinnerbaits, topwaters, and crankbaits. This will be the case until mid June when larger baits and trolling is more viable.
“Walleyes are around shallow stumps and rocks, but that pattern will not hold for long. Do not hesitate to try deeper, heavy cover during the day and weed edges and breaks during twilight hours. Minnows still work well, but leeches and crawlers will soon be more effective.
“Anglers fishing medium minnows and spinnerbaits for other species are catching many smaller northern pike around shallow weed beds, bluegills, and crappies. The few bass reports say mostly small bass are active.
“Crappies are post spawn, dispersing throughout the lake, and this is a difficult time to fish for them. Try deeper brush piles and cribs. Bluegills are shallow and particularly active on of crawler pieces and leaf worms.”
Jim at Minnow Jim’s says it might be hard to believe, but popple fuzz and good fishing go together on Nelson Lake.
“Walleyes are biting and most anglers are using fatheads, sucker minnows, and leeches. The wide range of walleye sizes is encouraging for future years. Bass and northern pike anglers are catching fish on surface baits.
“Bluegill and crappie fishing is great for angler fishing live bait, minnows, waxies, worms, and leeches on jigs or under bobbers. The panfish have been in shallow water, but if not there, move to 5-10 feet.”
This week, DNR fisheries biologist Max Wolter discusses what is necessary for successful musky spawning.
“Some lakes support natural musky reproduction, while others require stocking to maintain fishable populations. What conditions in a lake allow for successful musky spawning? A pair of studies in Wisconsin provides some answers.
“A study by Michael Dombeck (and others) in 1986 and a study by Ashley Rust (and others) in 2002 looked at numerous factors and determined which were important at determining muskellunge spawning success in lakes.
“The Dombeck study found that low northern pike abundance, high shoreline complexity, and lake nutrient levels were positive links to successful muskellunge spawning. The later Rust study found many of the same factors important, but concluded that wood in the water at the spawning location and along the shoreline was a positive link to spawning success. They also found that human development along the shoreline was a negative link to spawning success.
“Both studies illustrate how sensitive muskellunge spawning can be, and how spawning is only successful in particular circumstances.
“Shoreline owners can help maximize the odds of muskellunge spawning success by limiting disturbances to shoreline habitats and promoting or maintaining wood in the water.”
The DNR now has results available from wildlife surveys completed during the second half of 2017, with data collected from small game, big game, waterfowl, and non-game categories. To view these survey results, search “reports” on the DNR website (www.dnr.wi.gov).
Hayward Lakes Chapter-Muskies, Inc. welcomes the public to attend its meetings (they are free!), with the next meeting Tuesday, June 5, at Flat Creek Eatery. A business meeting starts at 6:30 p.m., followed by the general meeting at 7 p.m. This month’s featured guest speaker is DNR fisheries bureau director Justine Hasz, who will talk about muskies and various other fish topics. People interested in becoming a new member of Muskies Inc. can purchase a half-price membership at the meeting. For more information, call Mike Persson (715) 634-4543.
Wisconsin’s Free Fun Weekend is THIS weekend, June 2-3, when residents and visitors can – for free – fish, hike/bike state trails, ride public ATV trails, and enjoy admission to state parks and forests. During this weekend, the DNR waives license requirements for fishing any waters, including inland trout and Great Lakes trout and salmon fishing. However, size limits and restrictions on the species anglers can harvest still apply so be sure to check the regulations. To find a free fishing event near you, search “free fishing weekend” on the DNR website. The DNR also waives all state trail pass fees on DNR-owned state trails; state park vehicle admission fees on DNR-owned properties; and ATV/UTV registration and trail pass fees. For more information, search “free fun” on the DNR website.
Muskies are picking up speed to feed, but small to medium bucktails, spinnerbaits, crankbaits, and topwaters with moderate to slow retrieves will serve you best at this time.
Walleye fishing slowed a bit, but anglers continue to catch fish, especially early and late in the day. Concentrate on shallow to mid-depth weeds, rock, gravel, stumps, bays, and breaklines. Top producing presentations include jigs/fatheads or sucker minnows, leeches, crawlers, jigs/plastics, bottom bouncers, worm harnesses, crankbaits, and swim baits. Trolling smaller crankbaits and stickbaits is also working.
Northern pike fishing is fair to good, with smaller fish providing most of the action. Look for pike on shallow weeds, flats, shorelines, humps, and anywhere panfish are spawning. Minnows, crankbaits, spinnerbaits, spoons, swim baits, plastics, and surface baits will all work.
Largemouth bass fishing is good and improving around shallower structure and weeds. Wacky worms, topwaters, swim jigs, and surface baits will all produce action.
Smallmouth bass fishing in the Northern Bass Zone is catch and release only until June 16. The fish are just starting to bed and react well to jerkbaits, crankbaits, and plastics.
Crappies are spawning or have finished spawning, depending on the water, and moving back to deeper cover. Look for them from very shallow out to about 12 feet or so. Best baits include crappie minnows, waxies, worms, and leeches on jigs and/or under slip bobbers.
Bluegill action is good and getting better as fish move shallow for spawning. For now, fish depths out to 10 feet or so with waxies, worms, leaf worms, leeches, crawler pieces, and plastics on small jigs, teardrops, and plain hooks, with or without slip bobbers.
May 23-29: Period F spring turkey season.
May 26: Muskellunge season opened north of Highway 10.
June 2-3: Free Fun Weekend. Free fishing, park/forest entry, DNR trails, ATV/UTV trails (see restrictions).
June 16: Northern zone smallmouth bass season goes from catch-and-release to daily bag limits (check regs).
June 22-24: 69th Annual Musky Festival (715-634-8662).
June 22-24: Hayward Lions Fishing Contest (715-634-8662).
Through July 31: Illegal to allow unleashed dogs to run on DNR lands and FWPAs (see regs for exceptions).
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.