By: Steve Suman
Another cold week ahead, though warming toward the end of it and maybe through the end of this month – and by “warming” it means back to more normal (i.e., less cold) average temperatures. The gun deer season opener is this Saturday and the forecast predicts mid-20 highs, with light snow possible. Good luck and safe hunting!
“What a change in the weather the past two weeks,” says Pat at Happy Hooker. “The week previous, anglers had rather good fishing, depending on the species. This past week had snowing and dropping temperatures and it will not be long before we have ice.
“Musky fishing is good for anglers dragging large suckers on quick-strike rigs, which continues to be the go-to tactic. Colder water temperatures are triggering the big fish to put on a feeding frenzy.
“Walleyes seem to be turning on as well and they are on mid-lake structure. Jigs and minnows are a good way to go, and slow drifting live bait under sinkers near bottom will turn some fish. Most fish are transitioning to mid lake depths of 10-15 feet.
“Smallmouth bass fishing is also good on live bait and dragging small sucker minnows in 10-20 feet is producing some success. Casting crankbaits is also working.
“Last week, there was a good northern pike bite and anglers working spinnerbaits and plastics in and over shallower green weeds were catching some nice fish. This week has been quiet.
“Many anglers are putting away their fishing gear and preparing for the opening of gun deer season this Saturday. Bow hunters are already in the woods. Wear some orange while walking around, whether in the woods or on the roads.”
Andy at Hayward Bait says open water fishing is quickly reaching the end.
“Ice is appearing as fast as you can cast your bait, but there are still some die-hard anglers and boaters chipping ice to launch their rigs.
“Musky action is slowing as water temperatures drop, but some walleye anglers report success with walleye suckers.
“Bow deer season is going well and rut is in full effect, so be alert. With snow now covering the ground, hunters are eagerly looking forward to the opening of gun deer season this Saturday.”
At Anglers All in Ashland, Carolyn says that if you have not yet stored your boat for the winter – and the weather cooperates – fishing is good on Chequamegon Bay.
“Anglers are doing well on smallmouth bass, trout, and salmon.
“Stream fishing is still also productive, but do remember that the tributary streams close Nov. 15.”
This week, DNR fisheries biologist Max Wolter discusses this year’s fish surveys.
“The DNR Hayward Fish Team finished its final survey of the year in October. Now, winter offers the opportunity to look back on everything we saw during open water season and dig into the data. In fact, a recap of the fish we observed this year tells the story best.
“In total, DNR crews in Sawyer County handled 22,392 fish (of 51 different species!), a little more than our usual amount. This increase is attributable to the to the fine and enthusiastic work of our fisheries technicians, Scott Braden and Evan Sniadajewski, who completed surveys even when I had to be other places. We also had great cooperation from the hatchery and treaty teams out of Spooner who worked on some of our area lakes.
“The most abundant species we handled was walleye at 7,697 fish, which is not too much of a surprise since so much effort is put into specifically surveying them. We caught good numbers of walleye in Grindstone, Round, Whitefish, Teal, and the Chippewa Flowage.
“The next two most abundant species were black crappie (2,617) and northern pike (2,457), both of which are caught readily in netting surveys.
“Bluegill (2,101), yellow perch (1,608), largemouth bass (1,358), and smallmouth bass (1,342) are next in the list. The smallmouth bass catch was much higher than usual this year, the result of a big survey conducted on Grindstone Lake.
“We handled 257 muskellunge and an additional three tiger muskellunge.
“Some of the rarest species captured included ironcolor shiner (1), longnose gar (2), warmouth (6), and burbot (7).”
Hunters and wildlife enthusiasts should check the DNR website for which counties currently prohibit wildlife baiting and feeding. The DNR added 14 counties to the baiting and feeding restrictions since the end of the 2017 deer season and have restrictions in place for 43 of Wisconsin’s 55 CWD affected counties. The DNR enacts baiting and feeding bans for three-year periods in counties with CWD detection in wild or captive deer and for two years in adjacent counties. For more information, visit www.dnr.wi.gov/topic/hunt/bait.html on the DNR website. In addition, hunters should check for and continue to follow local ordinances that may prohibit baiting and feeding of deer.
The DNR encourages hunters who harvest adult deer to test the deer for chronic wasting disease (CWD), particularly in areas affected by CWD. The DNR continues CWD assessment and detection statewide and will continue to sample deer within the Southern Farmland Zone and select locations in other CWD-affected counties. It is also expanding surveillance to all 19 counties of the West Central District and parts of northern Wisconsin. Hunters choosing to test their deer through meat processors or taxidermists should contact stations in advance to verify hours and that surveillance efforts focus on adult deer. The average turnaround time is two to three weeks. If test results are positive for CWD, hunters should not consume venison from that deer. For more information, search “CWD” and “CWD results” on the DNR website.
Each year, through the Deer Donation Program, hunters, meat processors, and food pantries help families in need by working with the DNR to donate thousands of pounds of venison to food pantries. Established in 2000, the program has since distributed more than 91,000 deer and more than 3.6 million pounds of processed venison to food pantries across the state. Hunters planning to donate a deer should know the location of the participating processor and if CWD testing is necessary. Call ahead to make sure the processor is prepared to accept the deer. Hunters can donate their deer at a participating meat processor, or make a monetary donation when purchasing a hunting license to help cover venison processing costs. For more information, including a list of participating processors and CWD sampling requirements, visit www.dnr.wi.gov/topic/hunt/donation.html on the DNR website.
Hayward Lakes Chapter-Muskies Inc. welcomes the public to attend its meeting Tuesday, November 13, starting at 7 p.m., at Flat Creek Eatery & Saloon. Admission is free. The meeting includes the election of officers and a lure swap. Bring your unused/old/extra lures and other miscellaneous fishing items to sell or trade. If you are interested in becoming a new member of Muskies, Inc., attend this meeting and purchase an annual membership for half price. For more information, visit www.muskiesinc-hayward.org, or call Mike Persson (715) 634-4543.
Barring a very abrupt weather change for the warmer, this is (most likely) the final open water fishing report for the season. The traditional nine-day gun deer season opens this Saturday and a significant number of outdoor enthusiasts have their minds on deer hunting. Reports will resume when ice is at an acceptable depth, which could be very, very soon!
To round out the season, musky anglers are doing well with large suckers on quick-strike rigs, as is usually the case this time of year. Walleye anglers are catching fish on various structures in 12-20 feet, primarily with walleye suckers. Northern pike are around shallow weeds and fishing remains good on plastics and spinnerbaits. Smallmouth bass action is good in 12-25 feet for anglers fishing walleye suckers and crankbaits. If you fish Lake Superior, smallmouth bass, trout, and salmon fishing is going well on Chequamegon Bay.
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. 15: Flambeau River State Forest ATV/UTV trail system closes for season.
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. 1: Lake Superior lake trout season opens.
Dec. 2: Seasons close: Southern zone duck and goose; Canada goose in South Exterior Zone.
Dec. 4: Mississippi River Zone duck season closes.
Dec. 5: Muzzleloader deer season closes.
Dec. 8: Ruffed grouse season closes in the zone B.
Dec. 6-9: Antlerless-only firearm hunt.
Dec. 10: Permit application deadline: Spring turkey; Bear.
Dec. 12: Bobwhite quail season closes.
Dec. 16: Canada goose seasons reopens in Southern Exterior Zone.
Dec. 24-Jan. 1: Antlerless only Holiday Hunt in valid farmland units (see regs).
Dec. 25: Period 1 bobcat hunting/trapping season closes.
Dec. 26: Period 2 bobcat hunting/trapping season opens north of Hwy. 64.
Dec. 31: Seasons close: Frog; Ruffed grouse in Zone A (Northern Zone) under emergency rule (not in printed regs).
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.