Winter continues to make its way into the North Woods, with dropping temperatures and rain/snow mix common recently. This week will bring lows as low as 10 degrees and highs barely – if that – reaching the 30s, with chances for snow mostly spotty. Get out and enjoy the sunny days that ARE in the forecast for this week!
“The Quiet Lakes area weather has been nothing short of bad,” says Pat at Happy Hooker, “making for tough fishing conditions and a decline in fishing enthusiasm. Water temperatures have dropped to the mid to low 40s in many lakes. However, as we wind down to the end of open-water season and fish are getting aggressive and going on the feed, this is the time of year to catch trophy musky, walleye, and northern pike.
“A good tactic for musky anglers this time of year is to soak a musky sucker under a big float or off the side of the boat to catch that big trophy.
“Walleyes are on mid-lake humps and near steep drop-offs, and it is best to use live bait such as big minnows, large fatheads, and walleye suckers. If that does not work, try rattling spoons and other vertical ice jigging techniques. Although it is easy to graph them on electronics, it is hard to get them to bite. Time of day should not be a factor now, considering the falling temperatures.
“Crappies, like walleyes, are on mid-lake humps and near steep drop-offs. This is a great time to mark possible spots for the soon to arrive early ice season.
“Finally, warm clothes, personal flotation devices, and a safety game plan that includes someone knowing where you are and when you will return is very important at this time of year.”
Trent at Hayward Bait says ice is already forming on the lakes, though usually just a very thin layer that melts away in the mid-day sun.
“Musky anglers should hang a musky sucker off the side of the boat while they throw large rubber baits such as Swimmin’ Dawgs and Medussas. If a following fish does not hit the bait, it might hit the sucker. Deeper water on the lakes, and river systems, are producing action.
“Walleye are on rock piles, boulders, and other hard bottom structure. Try fishing jigs and minnows in the rivers and deeper areas on lakes to put a few walleye in the boat.
“Crappies are in 20-30 feet, while bluegills are in 12-20 feet. Acme Hyper Glides, little Kastmaster spoons, and small ice jigs are all good choices this time of year – and panfish are already hitting on ice tackle!
“Ice fishing is approaching quickly, but we have a few weeks before there is enough ice on which to walk safely. If temperatures stay consistent, expect to be on the ice by gun deer season – though it would be nice to have some warm weather before then!”
“During October 16-19 of this year, the Chippewa Flowage received approximately 5,000 stocked muskellunge fingerlings. This effort was the culmination of years of research, fantastic collaboration among several partner groups, and fine work from DNR staff at Governor Thompson Hatchery in Spooner and other fish teams from this region.
“The eggs used to rear these fingerlings originated from the Chippewa Flowage in May when the hatchery crew spawned male and female muskellunge. The crew took the eggs to Spooner and reared them in ponds covered with netting purchased by the Hayward Lakes Chapter-Muskies, Inc. that protected the fingerlings from ospreys.
“Through their last month in the hatchery, the fingerlings received a higher grade food for which Hayward Muskies Inc. also provided funding. That additional food pushed these fish to a 12.7-inch average size, with many more than 13 inches. This is a very nice-sized fingerling in a year in which water temperatures made it difficult to grow fish.
“All stocked fingerlings received a PIT tag (Passive Integrated Transponder) that will allow us to track their growth, survival, movement, and differentiate between stocked and natural born fish. Funding for the tags came from donations from Hayward Muskies Inc., Lake Chippewa Flowage Resort Owners Association, Chippewa Flowage Property Owners Association, and Friends into Spooner Hatchery. A large crew consisting of Muskies Inc. members, Chippewa Flowage property owners, local anglers, and DNR staff from Brule, Spooner, Park Falls, Barron, and Hayward implanted the tags.
“Stocking took place at six different locations on the Flowage – Pat’s Landing, Crane Lake, CC South boat ramp, Tiger Musky Resort, Deerfoot Resort, and Deer Run Resort – locations based on PIT tag data showing the distribution of muskies stocked in previous years.
“This long list of partners and cooperators demonstrates how fish stocking in the Hayward area is truly a community effort. Many thanks to all who helped make this happen!”
Hayward Rod and Gun Club, approximately three miles east of Hayward on County Road B, will hold its annual sight-in days Saturday Nov. 16 through Friday Nov. 22, from 9 a.m.-4 p.m. The cost is $6 per rifle and the club welcomes the public. Experienced club members will be on-hand to assist with the sight-in process. During sight-in days, the club will sell fundraiser raffle tickets for a Ruger American Predator bolt-action rifle in 6.5 Creedmoor, with stainless steel barrel and synthetic stock. Raffle tickets cost $10/each or 3/$20. You do not have to be present to win – or even sight in a rifle. Just stop during open hours and buy the tickets! For more information, visit www.haywardrodandgun.club or call (715) 634-4912.
Hayward Power Sports, approximately 10 miles northeast of Hayward on Hwy 77, will offer a DNR Snowmobile Safety Course November 11, 12, and 14, with classes running from 4:30-6:30 p.m. The course consists of six hours of basic instruction in the principles of snowmobile safety. The course fee is $10. If you were born on or after Jan. 1, 1985, and at least 12 years of age, you must complete a snowmobile safety certification course to operate a snowmobile on Wisconsin public snowmobile trails and areas. More than 200,000 registered snowmobiles hit Wisconsin's 25,000 miles of groomed trails each winter, making safety an important part of the ride. For additional information, and to register, call (715) 462-3674 or email email@example.com.
Hayward Lakes Chapter-Muskies, Inc. invites the public to attend its monthly meeting Tuesday, November 5, starting at 7 p.m., at Flat Creek Eatery. Admission is free. This is a general business meeting to review fall tournament results, elect officers for 2020, and includes a gear swap meet. Bring your old lures, extra tackle, and various other fishing items to buy, sell, or trade. People attending the meeting who are interested in becoming a new Muskies, Inc. member can purchase an annual membership for half price. For more information, call Mike Persson (715) 634-4543.
Musky action is good to very good – and this is trophy time in the North Woods! Look for fish in shallow to mid-depths along breaklines, drop-offs, and humps near deeper water. Musky suckers are the way to go IF you can find them. Anglers should call ahead to locate suckers, which could take more than a couple calls. Other options include throwing and/or jigging large rubber baits and jigging baits, as well as trolling large stickbaits. Musky season in the Northern Musky Zone runs through Nov. 30.
Walleye fishing is fair to good and improving. Look for fish in depths to more than 30 feet, concentrating in and around holes, humps, weeds, weedlines, drop-offs, rock, and gravel. During evening feeding hours, hit shallower habitat and cover holding baitfish. Best baits include walleye suckers and large fatheads on jigs, jigging baits such as Jigging Raps and spoons, crankbaits, spinners, and plastics.
Northern pike action is good to very good in and around weeds and schools of baitfish and panfish. Baits of choice include northern suckers, minnows of various sizes, bucktails, spinners, spinnerbaits, and spoons.
Smallmouth bass fishing is good to very good for anglers targeting deeper rock, sand, gravel, and other hard bottom areas. Top baits include walleye suckers, spinners, swimbaits, and plastics in various presentations.
Crappie action is good around weeds and brush in depths out to 30 feet and for fish suspending over deeper water. Crappie minnows, waxies, plastics, and Gulp! baits on small jigs and teardrops, as well as small spoons and jigging baits, are all effective offerings.
Bluegill fishing is fair to good, with fish in mid-depths and deeper around weeds, cribs, and brush. Traditional panfish baits such as waxies, crawler pieces, leaf worms, plastics, and Gulp! baits are all producing catches.
Oct. 31: Fresh Water Fishing Hall of Fame closed for season (715-634-4440).
Nov. 1: Wild ginseng season closed.
Nov. 2: Seasons opened: Beaver trapping; Otter trapping.
Nov. 4: Woodcock season closed.
Nov. 16-22: Sight-in days at Hayward Rod and Gun Club; $6/rifle. Public welcome (715-634-4912).
Nov. 23: Regular gun deer season opens.
Nov. 26: Duck season closes in North Zone.
Nov. 29: Mourning dove season closes.