By: Steve Suman
It would be difficult to ask for a more appealing forecast than what is on tap from now through Sunday (though forecasts are never for certain!) Mild, sunny, and perfect for all outdoor recreation – get outdoors and make good use of it!
“Fishing improved somewhat in the last week,” says Pat at Happy Hooker, “with consistent weather and last week’s full moon bringing on the bite, plus the cooler nights will affect fishing.
“Musky anglers casting medium size bucktails and topwaters are turning a few smaller fish, but the big predators will pick up in the coming weeks.
“Walleyes are still on mid-lake humps and other structure in 15-25 feet. Mudflats hold active fish, but most bites are in deep water off weeds. Worms are best, but jigging lures and Rattlin’ Raps are good, especially for bigger fish. Early mornings and later evenings continue to be the best times, and fishing after dark can be the best time to catch a trophy.
“Anglers are also picking up some northern pike on live bait and smallmouth bass on scented soft plastics.
“Panfish anglers are consistently making some good panfish catches in/on/near deeper vegetation in 18-20 feet. Crappies in particular are schooling in deep water. Use and trust your electronics to find structure and the fish and drag a crappie minnow on a plain red hook with a smaller bullet sinker.”
Mike at Jenk’s says the Chippewa Flowage is down about 2 feet and water temperature is 78 degrees and rising.
“The musky bite is predominantly on baits cast around weeds, with surface baits seeing considerable action. As the water warms, try trolling big stickbaits in open water, but be careful how you handle fish in warm water.
“Walleye fishing remains strong. Crawlers are best, though some anglers are transitioning back to minnows. Trolling Flicker Shads over deep, open water with brush and bog hump bottoms is also effective. In the evening, work weedlines and breaklines with live bait, plastics, and Beetle Spins.
“Northern pike are active in weeds on live bait, spinners, and spoons. The pike are smaller than in previous weeks, but definitely offer great action.
“Smallmouth bass fishing is top-notch on various baits and spots, be it crawlers on cribs or plastics, spinners, and shallow crankbaits in stumps. Target the Flowage’s far eastern and southeast ends.
“Crappie fishing is slow, with deeper cribs and brush piles producing modest action. One angler reports success fishing deep holes on deep mudflats with crappie minnows and Gulp! Minnows.”
This week, DNR fisheries biologist Max Wolter discusses the incredible Big Chetac panfish factory.
“Big Chetac Lake in southern Sawyer County is well-known as a panfish fishing destination, complete with a local festival dedicated to the bluegill. Creel surveys from the summer of 2017 and winter of 2017-18 puts Big Chetac’s panfish prominence on display.
“Creel clerks interviewed both open water and ice anglers, asking what they were fishing for, what they caught, and what they harvested.
“Study results found anglers harvested an astonishing 141,712 panfish consisting of bluegill, black crappie, and yellow perch. For a lake this size, that is an incredible number that equates to a harvest of 59 panfish per acre of water. For reference, most other Sawyer County lakes with similar data available show a harvest of 10-30 panfish per acre.
“Despite the large amount of harvest occurring in Chetac, panfish size remains excellent. A fishery survey done in 2017 found that 23 percent of all bluegills were more than 8 inches long, with crappie and perch size solid as well.
“How does Chetac manage to support so much harvest and yet maintain a quality fishery? The answer is the high levels of naturally occurring nutrients that form the base of the food chain. A lower bag limit for bluegills and a strong predator population also contribute to the good size structure of panfish.”
The DNR begins sales of remaining fall turkey permits (harvest authorizations) at 10 a.m. this Saturday, August 18, on a one per-day basis, with cost $10/residents; $15/nonresidents. Hunters can purchase authorizations at any license sales location or through the Online Licensing Center. For more information, search “remaining fall turkey harvest authorizations” on the DNR website or call (888) 936-7463.
This Friday, August 17, starting at 8 p.m., Flambeau River State Forest will host a Universe in the Parks event at Connors Lake picnic area. Come gaze at the stars and learn about astronomy. For more information, call (715) 332-5271.
Sale of bonus antlerless deer harvest authorizations for regular DMUs began Monday, Aug. 13. Authorizations cost $12/residents, $20/non-residents, and $5/youth age 11 and younger. Sales are zone-specific as follows: Aug. 13: Northern and Central Forest (Zone 1); Aug. 14: Central Farmland (Zone 2); Aug. 15: Southern Farmland (Zone 2); Aug. 16: Remaining authorizations for all zones. Authorizations sell at one per person per day until sold out or the 2018 deer season ends. For more information, search “deer” and “bonus availability” on the DNR website.
Hayward Bass Club’s free Youth Bass Tourney on the Chippewa Flowage is this Sunday, August 19, from noon to 12-4 p.m., and anglers 10-17 years of age still have time to register. The Landing Restaurant and LCO Resort serves as tournament headquarters. Experienced anglers take participants for an afternoon of pro-style catch-and-release bass fishing, with anglers holding their largest three fish in livewells for the weigh-in. The club provides a shore lunch for participants, families, guides, and spectators following the weigh-in. Participants must pre-register and have a permission slip. For more information, or to register, visit Hayward Bait (715-634-2921) or Outdoor Creations (634-1044), or contact Wayne Balsavich at firstname.lastname@example.org; (405) 227-1789.
According to Ralph Hlavin at The Retreat at Lost Land Lake, the DNR has started upgrade work on the boat ramp on the west side of Lost Land Lake, which could take a month or longer. Since this is the only public access point, Hlavin is graciously offering boaters free use of the resort’s boat ramp for launching and loading during construction. After the DNR completes the project in late August, the resort may charge for launching and loading access. For more information, directions, and launching instructions, visit www.retreatlll.com/ or call (715) 462-3367.
Musky action is fair to good, but inconsistent, and fish continue to be fickle. Fish for them on weeds and weedlines adjacent to deeper water with bucktails, jerkbaits, rubber baits, and topwaters, or try trolling large stickbaits.
Walleye fishing is good to very good, surprisingly, with early morning and late evening/after dark offering the best action. During the day, look for fish on deeper weeds, wood, mudflats, humps, brush, bars, bogs, and other structure out to 30 feet. In the evening, concentrate on shallower weeds/weedlines, breaklines, and shorelines. Use crawlers and leeches (if available) on spinner rigs, jigs/minnows, plastics, and Beetle Spins, or troll Flicker Shads.
Northern pike fishing is good to very good in and around shallow to mid-depth weeds and panfish concentrations, though most action is on smaller fish. Top baits include spinners, spinnerbaits, spoons, crankbaits, stickbaits, surface baits, minnows, and northern suckers. Trophy pike anglers should fish bigger baits in deeper cover.
Largemouth bass action is fair to very good. Work shallow to mid-depth weeds, weedlines, brush, bogs, cribs, and other structure with various plastics, spinners, spinnerbaits, crankbaits, and topwaters.
Smallmouth fishing is good to very good on deeper cribs, stumps, rock, gravel, and other hard bottom areas producing the most action. Crawlers, minnows, soft plastics, crankbaits, spinners, and spinnerbaits are all catching smallmouth.
Crappie action is fair to good once you find them when searching deep weeds, holes, brush, cribs, and mudflats in 15-25 feet. Crappie minnows, waxies, plastics, and Gulp! baits are all effective. Downsize tackle to improve your success.
Bluegill fishing is good to very good for smaller fish in and around shallow weeds and cover. For bigger bluegills, target mid-depth to deeper weeds, weed edges, wood, brush, and cribs. Best baits include waxies, worms, crawler chunks, small minnows, and plastics on plain hooks, small jigs, and teardrops under bobbers.
Aug. 23-26: Sawyer County Fair (715-934-2721).
Through Aug. 31: Application period for sharp-tailed grouse permits.
Sept. 14: Elk bugling at Flambeau River State Forest 6 a.m., with DNR elk biologist Laine Stowell (715-332-5271).
Sept. 15: Early Canada goose season closes.
Sept. 15: Seasons open: Archery and crossbow deer; Fall turkey; Ruffed grouse in Zone A; Cottontail rabbit in Northern Zone; Gray and fox squirrel; Crow.
Sept. 16: Canada goose season opens in North and South exterior zones.
Sept. 29: Seasons open: Duck in Southern and Mississippi zones; Canada goose in Mississippi River Subzone.