By: Steve Suman
Judging from this week’s forecasts, the first part of the week is the best time for most outdoor recreation, though waterfowl hunters will surely appreciate the weather Thursday into and/or through the weekend. Still, the temperatures remain somewhat mild, so do not allow “chances” of showers (whatever their makeup) deter you from activities.
“Depending on the day and the lake,” says Pat at Happy Hooker, “water temperatures on the Quiet Lakes fluctuate between 40-45 degrees, but one thing is certain – they will continue to drop!
“Musky anglers using suckers on quick-strike rigs report success fishing vegetation near the shallows, while anglers using artificials are finding very limited action.
“Walleye anglers are catching some fish with fathead minnows on 1/4-ounce jigs, as well as by slow trolling crankbaits. The late afternoon and evening hours are still the best times for success.
“Northern pike and largemouth bass are in and around weeds and weed drop-offs. Try spinnerbaits, crankbaits, and plastics; wacky worm rigs are a great tactic for the bass. Smallmouth bass are near various types of rock areas and timber structures and also hitting crankbaits and plastics.
“Crappies are schooling off the drop-offs and the best bite is in 8-12 feet for crappies and a few bluegills. Various jigging tactics are working and some anglers are tipping ice fishing tackle with plastics.”
Erik at Hayward Bait says fall is still hanging on by a thread, with some nice weather bringing some good fishing.
“Musky fishing is still holding strong, with medium and large suckers fished on ‘down rods’ or under bobbers the most productive. While dragging the sucker, cast rubber baits, paddle-tails, large swim baits, and glide baits. Trolling Grandmas, Believers, Jakes, Mattlocks, Headlocks, and other crankbaits at 1.5-2.5 mph can be extremely effective for muskies in the fall as well.
“Walleye anglers report success working jigs and walleye suckers on breaklines and drop-offs. Depths vary from day to day, but 12-14 feet is a good place to start. Crankbaits and trolling jerkbaits are also great fall tactics.
“Largemouth bass are active on plastics and crankbaits fished off deeper weed edges. Smallmouth bass are hitting plastics such as a tube baits and deep diving jerkbaits and crankbaits off deeper rock reefs.
“Crappies and bluegills are generally in deeper basins, in 12-17 feet, though as shallow as 10 feet, and with the cooler temperatures jigs and minnows are the favorite bait.”
Mike at Jenk’s says the Chippewa Flowage is at full pool, with the water temperature 41-46 degrees.
“The musky bite is solid for anglers using suckers and those trolling deep breaks off shorelines. Sucker anglers should work both deeper and shallower areas while casting glide baits, jerkbaits, and rubber baits. Hay Creek Narrows, the old logging dam in Musky Bay, and Moore’s Bay are all good places to start.
“The walleye bite is decent and the fish are moving deeper as we head into late fall. Most anglers are now using minnows, primarily larger fatheads and walleye suckers, but a few are still using crawlers. Good places to try include the deep holes off Popple Island, the deep hole off Chipmunk, and the deep hole south of Hay Creek Narrows.
“Crappies continue to cause frustration. A few anglers recently reported they had some success fishing mucky bottoms in 25-27 feet by Chipmunk Island. Aside from that report, crappie fishing has been really quiet on the Flowage.”
This week, DNR fisheries biologist Max Wolter discusses the need to teach hatchery fish how to eat.
“Fish raised in hatcheries obviously do not have the same early life experiences as do wild fish, which leads to concerns about how hatchery fish will perform once stocked into the wild. One concern deals with how effective hatchery fish will be at finding and capturing food.
“A recent study, in a laboratory setting, compared feeding efficiency of wild and hatchery brown and rainbow trout. Researchers placed trout in a large tank with various prey fish for 14 days and observed the amount of prey fish each trout consumed.
“Wild trout were fairly effective at capturing prey fish, consuming more than 70 percent of what was in the tank, but hatchery trout were significantly less effective, consuming less than 30 percent of prey fish.
“Researchers did not stop there, however, as they were also interested in whether hatchery fish could ‘learn’ to be better at catching prey fish if they had some prior exposure.
“The researchers fed minnows to some hatchery fish for 30 days before the experiment. These fish had considerably higher capture success than their hatchery brethren encountering minnows for the first time, so even in fish, practice makes perfect!
“Studies like these support a common practice of ‘finishing’ hatchery fish on minnows, even if the fish are fed pellet food for most of the rest of their life.”
People interested in purchasing a sturgeon spearing license for the 2019 Lake Winnebago sturgeon spearing season have until the October 31 deadline to do so. According to DNR Lake Winnebago sturgeon biologist Ryan Koenigs, the fish population is strong, with more fish than in decades and plenty of big fish. The spearing season opens Feb. 9 and runs for 16 days or until harvest reaches the 2019 harvest caps of 430 juvenile females, 950 adult females, and 1,200 males. Licenses cost $20 for residents and $65 for nonresidents. For more information, search “Lake Winnebago sturgeon spearing” on the DNR website.
Deer hunters interested in setting up a “traditional deer camp” in designated areas throughout Flambeau River State Forest for the nine-day gun deer season have until October 31 to contact the Forest Office (715-332-5271). Lake of the Pines Campground is open through Dec. 15, but Connors Lake Campground closed for the season. The Forest also manages 14 river sites, with up to three camping units at each site that include a picnic table, fire ring, and toilet facilities.
Musky action is good to very good and this is the best time for trophy fish. Target weeds and weed beds from shallow to deep, as well as deep breaklines and drop-offs. Suckers on quick-strike rigs are the best offering this time of year and most anglers have a sucker in the water while casting stickbaits, jerkbaits, gliders, and rubber baits. Other anglers choose to troll large crankbaits and stickbaits with good success.
Walleye fishing is fair to good, with the best time late afternoon into evening. Concentrate on drop-offs, breaklines, and deep holes in 10-18 feet. Various options work at various times, including walleye suckers and fatheads on jigs, crawlers on jigs, harnesses, and slip-shot rigs, and cast and trolled crankbaits and jerkbaits.
Northern pike continue to prowl weeds, weedlines, drop-offs, and panfish concentrations. Spinners, spinnerbaits, spoons, and plastics work well, as do northern suckers under bobbers. As always, go deeper with bigger baits for trophy pike.
Largemouth fishing slowed with the cooler temperatures, but fish are still active on deeper weedlines, weed edges, and drop-offs. Plastics, wacky worms, crankbaits, spinnerbaits, and minnows are all attractive to largemouth.
Smallmouth action is good for anglers pursuing them on deeper hard bottom rock and gravel areas and wood. Top baits include plastics, tubes, and deeper diving crankbaits and jerkbaits, as well as walleye suckers.
Crappies are schooling in some lakes and anglers are catching fish in deep holes, on drop-offs and weed edges, and on muck bottoms in 6-20 feet and deeper. Crappie minnows on jigs are the go-to bait, but tube jigs, Mini-Mites, plastics, and Gulp! baits can be very productive fished by vertical jigging or with a slip bobber.
Bluegill anglers will find fish in 6-20 feet in holes and on drop-offs, with best success in the middle depths. Small jigs and teardrops with waxies, worms, plastics, and Gulp! baits are all effective offerings, and try small minnows to target larger ‘gills.
Oct. 20: Seasons opened: Pheasant; Ruffed grouse in zone B; Sharp-tailed grouse (by permit); Bobwhite quail; Hungarian partridge; Cottontail rabbit; Raccoon gun and trapping (resident); Red and gray fox hunting and trapping; Bobcat hunting and trapping Period 1 north of Hwy. 64 (see regs).
Oct. 28: Seasons open: Muskrat; Mink (see regs).
Nov. 1: Wild ginseng season closes.
Nov. 3: Seasons open: Beaver trapping; Otter trapping.
Nov. 5: Woodcock season closes (see regs).
Nov. 15: Seasons close: Fall crow; Trout, salmon fishing downstream Lake Superior tributaries (see regs).
Nov. 16: Fall turkey season closes in zones 6, 7.
Nov. 17-25: Regular gun deer season.
Nov. 27: Duck season closes in north zone.
Nov. 26: Muzzleloader deer season opens.
Nov. 29: Mourning dove season closes.
Nov. 30: Seasons close: Muskellunge; Turtle.
Dec. 31: 2018 ruffed grouse season closes in Zone A (printed regulations do not reflect this change).
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.