The North Woods received a taste of the coming season in the last few days! Cold, wet, windy, and some flurries, but the forecast indicates sun this week and a warm-up for the weekend, with highs in the low 60s. Take advantage of it!
“Musky action is good on live bait and artificials. Both large and small offerings are catching fish, and one angler put a 42-incher on the board with a #5 Mepps last week! Suckers are in high demand and low in supply. If you find some, work them on weed edges, humps, points, and anywhere you see baitfish.
“Walleye action slowed. Try fishing transitions from hard to soft bottoms. Pitching jigs with suckers or plastics is a great way to target walleye at this time. Pulling a jig with light pops and letting it sit for a few seconds works better than snapping and getting reaction strikes. All fish species are starting to set up their feeding habits for winter and are not chasing baits as in summer.
“Northern pike of good size are hitting big suckers, and smaller rigged suckers fished over weeds also work well. If casting, crankbaits, slow-rolling bucktails, spinnerbaits, and any pull/pause or dive/rise baits are good choices. Look for green weeds and any other structure where you find baitfish.
“Largemouth bass still relate to weeds, live bait is the best choice, and fatheads under bobbers can be great.
“Smallmouth bass are on the same transitions as walleyes and are taking the same jigs and plastics. The key is to slow your presentations and work the tops of those transitions.
“Crappies are suspending in the basin. Crappie minnows on jigs or on bare hooks fished under a float are excellent choices at this time.
“Bluegills and perch are in the remaining green weeds on humps or in the bays. Waxies and plastics on small jigs are producing good fish right now.”
Jarrett at Hayward Bait says musky fishing is solid and improving as the water temperatures cool.
“The recent snow will help cool the water, and as the water gets cooler, fish will seek bigger baits. Large musky suckers, trolling baits, and slow-cranked glide baits are working well. Fish are moving all over and not bound to deep water or structure, so make sure to check all weedlines, points, humps, and areas with abundant baitfish!
“Walleye fishing remains slow, though some anglers report success with live bait rigs in 15-20 feet. Other anglers are seeing fish move into shallower bays as they prepare for the start of winter. Primetime fishing will become more and more prevalent, with peak times to include sunrise, dusk, and varying periods throughout the night.
“Northern pike fishing is good, with small musky suckers and northern suckers under bobbers working well in areas you would fish for musky. Hardware anglers are catching pike on spoons and crankbaits. Fish will begin moving shallower with winter on the way, so check in bay mouths and near structure in the bays.
“Largemouth and smallmouth bass anglers are not offering much in the way of fishing reports at this time.
“Crappies are holding to deep cribs and weedlines, though crappie and bluegill alike will soon make their way to weedy and warmer shallow water. Fish move because the sunlight in shallow water keeps weed growth alive longer, which pulls invertebrates, then small minnows, and so on and so forth. Crappie minnows on jigs and on plain Aberdeen hooks work well, as crappies are looking for decent size food for meals!
“Bluegills are hitting waxies, leaf worms, and crawlers on jigs.”
This week, DNR fisheries biologist Max Wolter discusses how spawn is just the beginning.
“A question I often hear from people who are interested in the future of our fisheries is ‘How was the spawn this year?’
“‘The spawn,’ a popularized fisheries term for fish mating season, is something that captures the public’s imagination, the almost magical time of year when all of the adults in a fish population venture into the shallows to mingle and do their business for the future of their species.
“When it comes to reproductive success, however, the actual act of spawning is just the start of the process.
“Fertilizing eggs is not particularly challenging for fish, which are adapted both behaviorally and physically for that job. However, not all eggs that are laid and fertilized end up hatching. The percent of fertilized eggs that hatch in a given spawn can vary considerably, with factors such as fungus, lack of oxygen, predation, or even desiccation (drying) leading to egg losses.
“Once hatched, life does not get a lot easier for the young fry.
“In early stages of life, young fish are extremely vulnerable to predation, starvation, temperature swings, disease, and many other factors that lead to most hatched fry perishing for most species. This fact is ‘baked into the cake’ for most fish populations.
“Walleye in an average-size lake may lay millions of eggs, expecting only several thousand to survive through their first summer of life. This is a common strategy for many animal species that do not provide parental care, but instead rely on a numbers game to carry on their genetics.
“The DNR conducts fall surveys to assess the strength of year classes, a measurement of how many young fish survive this gauntlet.”
The DNR reminds anglers that the inland trout fishing season closed Saturday Oct. 15. Anglers can still fish for trout and salmon in most inland lakes and ponds. Use the Trout Regulations and Opportunities User Tool (T.R.O.U.T.) to find places to trout fish, and be sure to check the trout regulations for exceptions by county.
The Sawyer County deer harvest total so far this year, as of October 11, is 226 deer, including 103 antlered and 121 antlerless. These totals include:
- Archery: 50 deer (23 antlered, 27 antlerless)
- Crossbow: 125 deer (57 antlered, 68 antlerless)
- Youth Deer Hunt Oct. 8-9: 51 deer (25 antlered, 26 antlerless)
- Zone 4: 218
- Zone 6: 113
- Zone 7: 56
The fall season in zones 6 and 7 closes Nov. 18. The season in zones 1-5 runs through Jan. 8. Bonus authorizations ($10/residents; $15/nonresidents) are available at one per person, per day, until the zone sells out or season ends. Bonus permits remain available as follows:
- Zone 1: 916
- Zone 2: 1,005
- Zone 3: 803
- Zone 4: 812
Deerfoot Lodge and Resort on the Chippewa Flowage is hosting a Ladies Musky Fishing School this weekend, Friday through Sunday, October 21-23. The event includes three days of classroom presentations by local fishing guides, licensed captains, DNR representatives, and other experts. Participants receive hands-on practice and fishing time on the water, as well as a swag bag of musky fishing goodies, door prizes, and a chance at the $250 Grand Prize.
Registration is $75 per person and Deerfoot has on-site lodging available if needed.
For more information, and to register, call Amanda at (608) 215-7397 or (715) 462-3328.
Fishing in general is fair to good, though some species are not receiving much attention. Fluctuating temperatures and strong winds have chilled some interest, many anglers have switched over to hunting, and some have already stored their boats and are waiting for the start of hard water season.
Musky fishing is good and continuing to improve as water temperatures continue to drop. Fish are scattered and can be just about anywhere, but focus on weeds, weedlines, points, humps, and areas with panfish and baitfish concentrations. Musky suckers (if available), crankbaits, stickbaits, and gliders work well, and trollers are connecting, too.
Walleye continue to challenge most anglers, though some continue to catch fish during this transition time. Find fish from shallow bays to more than 20 feet. Walleye suckers, fatheads, and plastics on jigs, live bait rigs, and spinner rigs are catching fish, Jigging Raps and similar baits are putting fish in the net, and trolling anglers are finding some fish.
Northern pike fishing is good as the fish try to bulk up for the winter months. Find good weeds, green weeds in particular, that hold concentrations of panfish and baitfish, and pike will be nearby. Live bait such as large minnows on floats work best, but spinners, spinnerbaits, spoons, stickbaits, bucktails, crankbaits, and gliders are all doing the job.
Largemouth bass fishing is fair, but interest is low and few anglers are targeting them at this time. The bass are in/on weeds holding baitfish and panfish, and live bait and plastics will get their interest.
Smallmouth bass fishing is somewhat slow, but the fish are there and hitting. Look for fish on hard bottom humps and transition areas in the same areas as walleyes. Sucker minnows on jigs, Ned rigs, and drop-shot rigs are catching fish, and stickbaits, crankbaits, and plastics are productive.
Crappie fishing is fair to good, with fish scattered from shallow, weedy water to deep weeds and weedlines, cribs, and other structure, to suspending in basins. Crappie minnows, fatheads, plastics, Mini-Mites, Tattle Tails, and Gulp! baits fished on jigs and plain hooks, with or without slip bobbers, are all enticing the crappies.
Bluegill and Perch:
Bluegill and perch fishing is good, with fish tending toward any green weeds they can find in shallower and warmer bays and on points and humps. Waxies, small minnows, leaf worms, crawlers, and plastics are all working well.
Oct. 11: Bear season closed.
Oct. 15: Seasons opened: 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 closed.
Nov. 7: Woodcock season closes.
Nov. 8: Beaver Moon.
Nov. 11: Veterans Day.
Nov. 12-18: Hayward Rod and Gun Club rifle sight-in days (715-634-4912).
Nov. 17: Crow season closes.
Nov. 18: Turkey season closes in zones 6-7.
Nov. 19-27: Traditional nine-day gun deer season (see regs).
Nov. 28-Dec. 7: Muzzleloader deer season.
Nov. 29: Mourning dove season closes.
Dec. 8-11: Four-day antlerless only deer hunt (see regs).
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.