By: Steve Suman
Look for this week to bring rain, snow, and dropping temperatures into the weekend. This could continue for another week, but then see a slight warming trend (though “warming” might be misleading). The long-range prediction for this winter is warmer and drier than average, but apparently it does not take effect within the next two weeks!
“You have to start dressing for the weather,” says Pat at Happy Hooker. “Warm clothing, gloves, and a couple hand warmers are now very much necessary for fishing – and do not forget the rain/snow suit. Water temperatures are dropping and will continue to drop, but the fish have been at least somewhat cooperative.
“Musky action is good on most area lakes, with large and medium size suckers on quick-strike rigs the choice for targeting the big fish. In addition, some anglers are catching muskies by casting large baits at and along shorelines.
“Walleye action is good and anglers are catching some decent size fish – and fishing for walleyes is certainly more fun when fish are aggressive. Anglers are using large minnows and plastics on jigs, minnows on Lindy Rigs, and by slow trolling #5 rattling crankbaits. Late afternoon into evening continues to be the best time for success.
“Northern pike and largemouth bass anglers are still catching fish in shallow and mid depth weeds, with spinnerbaits and plastics all taking fish.
“Panfish fishing is going well with small jigs or slip bobber rigs fished on the weed edges in 10-17 feet. Most panfish are now transitioning to their usual winter areas so do not be afraid to try fishing deeper water. Crappies are schooling on the drops off weeds in those same depths and fast jigging flashy baits is producing some good success. The fish move around, so once you find the bite it will last a short time. This is also a good time to scout out first ice spots.”
Carolyn at Anglers All in Ashland says Lake Superior and Chequamegon Bay fishing is excellent, but there are few anglers on the water.
“Smallmouth bass are in their usual deeper spots and the rock pile is producing the most action.
“Trollers report excellent fishing from Houghton Point to the Onion River, catching a mix of steelhead, coho, splake, brown trout, and even some northern pike.
“Fish Creek still holds some coho, along with a few steelhead and brown trout.”
This week, DNR fisheries biologist Max Wolter discusses walleye loss from fish going over reservoir dams.
“We often like to think of our large impoundments and reservoirs as lakes and that even extends to how we name them – Lake Chippewa, Lake Wissota, Lake Dubay, etc. However, there is a major fishery difference between impoundments and most natural lakes: once a fish leaves over an impoundment’s dam, it typically cannot return.
“Fish leaving over or through a dam is a significant source of loss of muskellunge in impoundments and a recent study in Iowa indicates the same phenomenon is common in walleye.
“During a 10-year period, researchers looked at fish loss over dams and found that in about half of those years fish loss through the dam was similar to the amount of fish dying from all other causes – including fishing.
“In other words, the amount of fish leaving through the dam has a significant effect on abundance of walleye in the lake from year to year. Years with high dam discharge rates in April tended to have higher loss of walleyes over the dam.
“The researchers caution that increasing precipitation intensity resulting from climate change will exacerbate this trend and make it harder to keep walleye in reservoirs.”
The DNR reminds ruffed grouse hunters that the 2018 ruffed grouse season in Zone A closes Dec. 31 due to an emergency rule the Natural Resources Board passed at its Sept. 26 meeting. Emergency rules are effective for 150 days, so the early closure applies only to the 2018-19 season. The change does not affect Zone B season dates (Oct. 20 through Dec. 8) and bag limits remain five birds in Zone A and three birds in Zone B. For more information, search “ruffed grouse hunting” on the DNR website.
The Hayward Lakes Chapter-Muskies Inc. invites the public to attend its meeting Tuesday, November 13, starting at 7 p.m., at Flat Creek Eatery & Saloon in Hayward. Admission is free. This is a general business meeting that will include the election of officers, but also a lure swap. Bring your unused/old/extra lures and other miscellaneous fishing items to sell or trade. People attending the meeting who are interested in becoming a new member of Muskies, Inc. can purchase a half-price annual membership at the meeting. For more information, visit www.muskiesinc-hayward.org, or call Mike Persson (715) 634-4543.
Open water fishing season is moving toward the end for this year – and might come very quickly with the overnight low this Friday of 10 degrees! Fishing reports (open water) will continue until it is not possible to get on the water. Ice fishing reports will commence when sane ice anglers consider access reasonable.
Musky fishing is good – and this is the time to catch trophy fish. Work shallow to mid-depth cover and along shorelines with suckers on quick-strike rigs, as well as large artificials, but suckers are the best choice at this time.
Walleye action is surprisingly good and anglers willing to deal with the weather conditions are catching some nice fish. Low light conditions of late afternoon into dark offer the best opportunities for success. Fish are in 20 feet and deeper during the day (as a rule), moving shallower during the low light periods. Look for fish on breaks, humps, and points. Baits of choice include large minnows and walleye suckers on jigs, drop-shot rigs, Lindy Rigs, and split shot rigs, plastics, and trolled crankbaits.
Northern pike remain active and on the prowl in shallow to mid-depth weeds and around panfish concentrations. Use northern suckers and minnows under bobbers, as well as spinners, spinnerbaits, spoons, and plastics.
Largemouth bass fishing is fair, though few anglers chasing them. Some fish are holding on shallow to mid-depth weeds and weedlines and on drop-offs, while other fish moved deeper. Spinners, spinnerbaits, crankbaits, plastics, and live bait can all work at different times – knowing when to use what is the challenge!
Smallmouth bass fishing is best around structure and transition areas out to about 20 feet. While it is difficult to beat live bait such as large minnows and walleye suckers at this time of year, swim baits, crankbaits, and assorted plastics can all produce success.
Crappie action is good to very good in/on/around weeds and weed edges in 8-20 feet, as well as for fish suspending in and over deeper water. Crappie minnows on plain hooks or small jigs fished under slip bobbers work best, but there are days when plastics work as well or better, as will aggressive jigging at times.
Bluegill fishing is fair to good for the few people currently fishing for them. Look for them along weed edges from 8 feet out to much deeper water. Waxies, worms, crawler chunks, plastics, and Gulp! baits on small jigs, teardrops, and plain hooks will all catch fish. Try fishing with or without slip bobbers, as well as small minnows for bigger bluegills.
Nov. 3: Seasons opened: Beaver trapping; Otter trapping.
Nov. 5: Woodcock season closed (see regs).
Nov. 13: Hayward Lakes Chapter-Muskies Inc. meeting at Flat Creek Eatery & Saloon; 7 p.m. (715-634-4543).
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.
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.