Hayward Lakes Outdoor Report 10-11-22

Steve Suman

A beautiful Monday in the North Woods and even nicer Tuesday is in the offing (so says the forecast). Enjoy it now, as the forecast also indicates a significant change to cooler, wetter weather towards the end of the week. The forecast includes a term best avoided at this time and the next six days could be very interesting, but have a great week, regardless!

“Fishing on the Quiet Lakes picked up after the cold front,” says Greg at Happy Hooker, “and water temperatures are hovering in the high 50s. The lack of rain has the Quiet Lakes down about 18 inches.

“Musky action is getting better on suckers. Casting can get fish interested, but many times muskies follow baits in and then go for the easier sucker meal. Quick-strike rigs under big floats are the most common way to rig them, fished around the same structure where you are casting. Gliders and jerkbaits are great options this time of year, bucktails still work if you fish them slower than in summer, and big crankbaits on deep edges work well, too.

“Walleyes moved to 20-25 feet in deep basins where they will stay most of the winter. Anglers report catching fish with fatheads on big jigs, Jigging Raps, and blade baits.

“Northern pike will hit suckers and artificials thrown at muskies. They relate to weeds this time of year and working the deep weed edges is best. Focus on structure, points, and weeds where the wind is concentrating small baitfish.

“Largemouth bass are relating to weeds and shallower, warmer water. Look for areas with rocks that hold heat and bays where the sun keeps the water warmest. Fatheads on plain hooks under bobbers, spinnerbaits, and bass glide baits work well.

“Smallmouth bass are deep and mixed with walleyes as they transition to their late fall and winter spots. Deep rocks and points tailing into basins are key areas. Look for fish in 20-25 feet and use the same techniques as for walleye.

“Crappies are deep and schooling in basins, and crappie minnows under slip bobbers are the ticket for nice crappies. Plastics on small jigs, small Beetle Spins, and Mimic Minnows are doing well.

“Bluegill and perch relate to vegetation, hiding from predators, and waxies on small jigs are catching some nice fish.”

Jarrett at Hayward Bait says musky fishing is solid and now is the time to get out for big, hungry muskies.

“Cooler temperatures chilled the water, making a good start to the musky sucker bite, and most anglers are running small and medium suckers on quick-strike rigs near the boat. For casting anglers, black, gold, fire tiger, and silver bucktails are excellent options.

“Walleye fishing is slow, as fish begin moving to early wintering spots near the last remaining weeds that hold the most baitfish. Clear water fish not on weeds hang deep, sitting on bottom in 30 feet or deeper. Live bait rigs shine now, as fish feed aggressively. For shallow walleyes, fast crankbaits and jerkbaits that trigger reaction strikes work wonders in primetime periods. For deep, scattered fish, anglers troll for pods of fish and then slow fish with live bait.

“Northern pike fishing is solid in areas musky inhabit, and big live bait ‑ northern suckers and small musky suckers ‑ are working well. Anglers are also catching fish on smaller musky baits such as bucktails and spinnerbaits. Think big and aggressive, as pike are starting to feed heavily preparing for the long winter.

“Largemouth and smallmouth bass fishing is good. Largemouth are scattered, with some shallow near remaining shoreline cover and others sitting on deep weed edges. Live baits and soft plastics are working well. Smallmouth anglers are finding fish near weeds and rock in 15-20 feet. Fish are not yet in the chasing mode, but many anglers report great success with live bait and plastics on Ned rigs.

“Crappies are tight to deep structure, cribs, and weeds, breaking from it only to feed during low light periods. Some pods of fish roam the basins. Good electronics are the key to finding the structure. Fish it fast with plastics for the aggressive fish, then slow fish with small jigs and crappie minnows to take a few more fussy fish.

“Bluegills move shallow as deep weeds begin to fade. Warm shallows hold green weeds the longest, and the weeds hold invertebrates and small forage. Shallow areas that heat fast are where anglers find bluegills at first ice, so start considering these areas for early ice season.”

Mike at Jenk’s says the Chippewa Flowage pool is down 2.5-3 feet, with the water temperature mid-50s and dropping.

“Musky fishing is very good right now, according to all current reports, with a lot of action on suckers and a few trollers catching fish as well. Most anglers are finding fish in shallower water at this time.

“Walleyes are chasing baitfish in shallower water. Minnows are the primary bait, though anglers are still using crawlers and crankbaits.

“Northern pike are actively chasing baitfish in shallow water, with most catches incidental by musky anglers.

“Crappies are still in Moore’s Bay and Blueberry Flats ‑ and still reluctant to bite. This is our first real cold snap and it could trigger the fish in the coming days.”

This week, DNR fisheries biologist Max Wolter discusses the difficulty in catching big bass in tournaments.

“Many anglers assume that the largest fish lurking in the lake are also the wiliest and least likely fish they will catch.

“Researchers in Iowa conducted a study that addresses that theory.

“The researchers examined the ‘capture probability’ of different sizes of bass in tournaments. In other words, how likely were anglers to catch medium-sized bass, 15-18 inches, compared to catching large bass, those greater than 18 inches? It turns out the larger bass were indeed harder to catch, about 3 times harder, in fact. That statistic takes into account that those very large bass are already more rare from the start.

“The researchers were also able to examine how tournament fishing might impact bass populations.

“The tournament fishing in this study resulted in the capture of a small percentage of the overall population, and survival of tournament caught fish was generally high.

“However, the researchers confirmed a common trend in catch and release fishing. Fish caught at warmer temperatures have lower survival than those caught when it is cool. Countless studies across many species show this and speak to the need for caution in warmer summer months.

“The researchers also found that larger bass had somewhat lower survival upon release than medium-size bass.

“This combination of results demonstrates that not only is catching a very large bass a rare and impressive feat, those fish need handled with extra care.”

October 15 is the season opener for pheasant, bobwhite quail, Hungarian partridge, and elk hunting; coyote trapping; and hunting/trapping season for fox, fisher, and bobcat Period 1.

Trout anglers should be aware the general inland trout fishing season closes Saturday, October 15, with some exceptions. Consult the hook and line or trout regulations guides. Dates are inclusive and subject to change.

Fishing Report

Fishing success is improving, with most species starting or in the middle of the fall-winter transition. Lake turnover is just starting or in the process and should receive some “encouragement” with cooling temperatures late this week. Due to the transitions, it really is important to check with bait and tackle shop personnel for the most current information of fish locations, bait preferences, and presentations. Instead of playing a guessing game, spend less time figuring out fish and more time catching them!


Musky action is good to very good and improving with the colder temperatures ‑ and fall is THE time for trophy muskies! Find fish on shallow to deep structure and weed edges. Musky suckers on quick-strike rigs (with/without floats), bucktails, crankbaits, jerkbaits, gliders, and topwaters all work, and trolling anglers are catching fish, too.


Walleye fishing is so-so, but could pop at any time. Fish are slowly transitioning to pre-winter/winter weed areas harboring baitfish, and depths can vary from shallow to on the bottom in more than 30 feet, depending on the lake. Walleye suckers, fatheads, and crawlers on jigs and live bait rigs, crankbaits, jerkbaits, Jigging Raps, and blade baits are all effective at times, as is trolling.

Northern Pike:

Northern pike action is good to very good as the fish feed seriously in anticipation of winter. They are on shallow and deep weeds and weed edges, points, and near panfish and baitfish concentrations. Use sucker minnows, small to medium bucktails, stickbaits, spinners, spinnerbaits, and spoons. Go deeper with bigger baits for trophy pike.

Largemouth Bass:

Largemouth bass fishing is fair to good, though with few anglers targeting them. Fish are in scattered locations, from deep weed edges to warmer bays and shallow weeds, rock, and other structure along shorelines. Sucker minnows and fatheads on jigs or plain hooks, spinners, spinnerbaits, crankbaits, small gliders, and soft plastics will all catch fish.

Smallmouth Bass:

Smallmouth bass action is good and getting better as fish ramp up their pre-winter feeding efforts. Find them around weeds, weed edges, humps, rock, points, and basins in 12-28 feet, in the same areas you find walleyes (if you can find the walleyes!) Crankbaits, swim jigs, and live bait and plastics on live bait, Ned, and drop-shot rigs will get their attention.


Crappie fishing is fair to good, with fish holding near deep weeds, cribs, and other structure, and/or schooling in deep basins. Best fishing is during early morning and late evening feeding hours. Crappie minnows, waxies, plastics, and Gulp! baits on small jigs with/without slip bobbers, Mimic Minnows, and Beetle Spins are all productive.

Bluegill and Perch:

Bluegill and perch fishing is good as fish move to shallow and warmer bays and green weeds. Waxies, worms, plastics, and Gulp! baits on small jigs and teardrops are the baits of choice. Try small minnows and fatheads for bigger bluegills and avoiding small bait robbers.

Upcoming Events

Oct. 11: Bear season closes.

Oct. 15: Seasons open: Pheasant; Bobwhite quail; Hungarian Partridge; Elk; Coyote trapping; Fox hunting/trapping; Bobcat hunting/trapping Period 1; Fisher hunting/trapping.

Oct. 15: Inland trout fishing season closes.

Oct. 22: Trapping seasons open: Mink; Muskrat (see regs).

Oct. 29: Season opens: Non-resident raccoon hunting and trapping (see regs).

Nov. 5: Seasons open in North Zone: Beaver trapping; Otter hunting and trapping (see regs).

Nov. 6: Daylight Saving Time ends at 2 a.m. ‑ turn clocks back one hour.

Nov. 7: Woodcock season closes.

Nov. 17: Crow season closes.

Nov. 18: Turkey season closes in Zones 6-7.

Nov. 19-27: Traditional nine-day gun deer season.

Nov. 22: Duck season closes in North Zone (see regs).

Nov. 28-Dec. 7: Muzzleloader deer season.

Nov. 29: Mourning dove season closes.

Dec. 8-11: Four-day antlerless only deer hunt.

For more information on area events and activities, visit the Hayward Lakes Visitor and Convention Bureau and Hayward Area Chamber of Commerce websites, view the Calendar of Events, or call (715) 634-8662 or 800-724-2992.