By: Steve Suman
The forecast for this week indicates a wet and cool stretch is likely until Friday when the sun makes another showing. Of course, the forecast is subject to change at any time. Still, might be a good idea to keep rainwear handy…
“We are in the fall fishing season on the Quiet Lakes,” says Pat at Happy Hooker, “but not yet into fall turnover. Fishing is somewhat slow due to changing weather, but anglers are catching a few fish by putting in the time and figuring out the fall patterns. Lakes and flowages are providing the best success.
“Musky action continues to improve, with angers catching fish on a variety of baits, as well as on suckers.
“Anglers are catching a few walleye and northern pike on mid-lake cribs and humps, with the best fishing time in late afternoon as water temperatures rise.
“Smaller northern pike and largemouth bass continue to roam shallow weed areas. Casting shorelines with swim plastics, spinnerbaits, and topwaters will produce some action.
“Crappies are starting to stack in roaming schools – use your electronics to find them. Try fishing deeper holes that are their usual wintering spots.”
Trent at Hayward Bait says with the fall transition ending, fish are starting to stack.
“Muskies are becoming more aggressive as water temperatures drop, hanging in shallow reed grass and lily pads, typically in 5 feet or less. Sucker minnows, bucktails, large rubber baits such as black/white and black/orange Lake X Toads, and topwaters are all good options this time of year.
“Walleyes are on hard bottoms on the outer edge of weedlines, split into small groups, with larger fish in about 5 feet and smaller fish in 15-20 feet. Jigging is a great way to catch these late season walleyes. Jigs and minnows, Jigging Raps, and skirted bass jigs are good options, with purple and natural colors working best.
“Northern pike and largemouth bass are on points and in reed grass and lily pads in 6 feet or less. Good autumn lures for largemouth are soft plastic swimbaits, bass jigs, spinners, and square bill crankbaits.
“Smallmouth bass are on sand and gravel bottoms in 7-15 feet. Worms and minnows work well, as do small jigs, under-spin jigs, and topwaters.”
Mike at Jenk’s says the Chippewa Flowage is down 2-2.5 feet, with water temperatures in the high 50s to low 60s.
“The best thing anglers can do is stay deep and cast into shallow water, and drop a sucker on the edges. Crappies are starting to move into Moore’s Bay and if you find crappie there, fish there for muskies – muskies follow their food source.
“Walleyes are still relatively quiet, with few reports of action in the past week. However, with the cool-down, expect walleye activity to increase in the coming weeks.
“Northern pike are active in weed beds. Spinnerbaits are a good choice, but now that we are moving into fall, throwing some live bait at them would not be a bad idea.
“Crappie anglers report increased crappie activity in Moore’s Bay. More and more boats are showing up daily, indicating crappies are starting their fall Moore’s Bay pattern. Crappie minnows, Stinger Shads, Gulp! Minnows, and Crappie Scrubs are effective.”
This week, DNR fisheries biologist Max Wolter discusses trout reproduction on Namekagon River tributaries.
“Summer trout surveys allow DNR crews to check on the abundance, size, and reproductive success of stream trout populations. Some streams see surveys on a rotation, such as once every 6 years, while other streams, considered ‘trend’ sites, see annual surveys to track year-to-year changes more closely.
“Trend sites for the Hayward Fish Team include the Namekagon River, Cap Creek, and Mosquito Brook. As a result, we have great long-term datasets on these streams, allowing us to answer an interesting question about the Namekagon River. Is there a correlation of reproductive success between the river and its tributaries? Put another way, if there is a good year class in the river, does that mean there is a good year class in the tributary?
“The reason the two might have a correlation stems from the influence that large-scale environmental factors have on trout reproduction. Temperature, high or low flow, winter ice accumulation, and other factors can make or break a year class.
“Interestingly, data on brown trout reproductive success (year class strength) does not show any correlation at all between the Namekagon River and Mosquito Brook. Sometimes, in years when we see many young trout in Mosquito Brook, there are few young trout in the Namekagon – and vice versa.
“The important take-away here might be that connectivity between different habitat types is key to maintaining vibrant fisheries. During years that spawning conditions are less than ideal in one place, good conditions elsewhere in the system can make up for it.
“This is why it is important to protect habitat – not just where the popular fisheries are, but also in smaller, connected water that might not receive much angling attention.”
This weekend, Saturday and Sunday Oct. 5-6, is Musky Tale Resort’s annual Crappie Quest on the Chippewa Flowage. The event includes door and raffle prizes, payout for at least five places (7 crappies per boat/day), and biggest fish. First place pays $1,000. The entry fee is $90/two-person team. For more information, visit www.muskytale.com or call (715) 462-3838.
The 2019 Youth Deer Hunt is Saturday and Sunday Oct. 5-6, for both resident and nonresident youth hunters. Hunters 15 years of age and younger, with or without hunter education certification, are eligible to participate with a mentor. For more information, search “Youth Deer Hunt” on the DNR website.
There is still time to enter the Hayward Lakes Chapter-Muskies Inc. 42nd Annual Fall Musky Tournament this Friday through Sunday, October 4-6. The tournament offers more than $30,000 in prizes, trophies to the first 10 places, and every entrant eligible for the Grand Prize – a 2019 Lund 1725 Pro Guide tiller boat, ShoreLand’r trailer, and 60 hp Mercury motor (must attend Sunday drawing at Flat Creek Inn and Suites to win). The entry fee is $100/adults and $25/youth 16 and younger. Register in person at Jenk’s (715-462-3055) or in person, by phone, or fax at Hayward Bait (715-634-2921) until 11 p.m. Oct. 3. For information, visit www.muskiesinc-hayward.org, or call (715) 634-2921.
Musky action continues to improve with the changing weather. Target shallower weeds, reeds, bars, humps, and other structure, and areas holding panfish concentrations. Productive baits include bucktails, stickbaits, jerkbaits, gliders, rubber baits, topwaters, live suckers, and there is some trolling success.
Walleye fishing is fair, but improving with the cooler fall weather. The best action is still late afternoon into after dark in shallower areas holding baitfish. Look for fish in depths to 22 feet, on weed edges, hard bottom mid-lake humps, and cribs. Walleye suckers, fatheads, crawlers, Jigging Raps and similar baits, and stickbaits can all entice walleyes.
Northern pike action is good to very good around shallow to mid-depth weeds, reeds, cribs, humps, and schools of panfish. Solid pike baits include spinners, spinnerbaits, spoons, swimbaits, crankbaits, topwaters, and northern suckers.
Largemouth bass fishing is fair to good. Fish are in and around shallow to mid-depth weeds and brush. Top producing baits include spinners, spinnerbaits, swim jigs, plastics in various configurations (worms, creatures, etc.), and topwaters.
Smallmouth bass fishing is good to very good, with fish holding on sand, rock, and gravel bottom flats and humps in 10-18 feet. Best baits include crawlers, sucker minnows, jigs, spin jigs, spinnerbaits, plastics, tubes, and topwaters.
Crappie action is good and getting better as fish start to school and move into their typical fall patterns and deeper water areas. Baits of choice include crappie minnows, worms, plastics, Crappie Scrubs, and Gulp! baits.
Bluegill fishing is fair to good in/near weeds, brush, and cribs out to 15 feet. Best offerings, include waxies, worms, crawler chunks, plastics, and Gulp! baits fished on small jigs, teardrops, and plain hooks, fished with/without bobbers.
Sept. 29: Trout season closed on rivers flowing into Lake Superior (see regs).
Oct. 5: 41st Annual Stone Lake Cranberry Festival (715-865-3378).
Oct. 8: Black bear season closes.
Oct. 12: Crex Fall Wildlife Festival (715-463-2739).
Oct. 12: Namekagon River Gobblers 11th Annual Grouse Challenge (715-580-0792).
Oct. 15: Inland trout season closes.
Oct. 19: Seasons open: Pheasant; Ruffed grouse in Zone B; Bobwhite quail; Hungarian partridge; Raccoon gun/trapping for residents; Red and gray fox hunting/trapping; Bobcat hunting/trapping Period 1, north of Hwy. 64; Coyote trapping; Fisher trapping.
Oct. 26: Seasons open: Muskrat statewide; Mink in north, south, and Winnebago zones.