Hayward Lakes Outdoor Report 10-24-23

Steve Suman

Monday started a bit wet, but then turned into a beautiful mild and sunny day… for a while. The forecast for this week is for mild temperatures, highs mostly in the mid to upper 50s, though with rain chances from now through the weekend. Thursday shows a start of cooling temperatures and Saturday mentions the “s” word. (Hint: it is not sunshine.) That is nearly a week away however, and much can change. Regardless, it is fall in the North Woods, so dress accordingly!

“There are reports that some of the Quiet Lakes are now in turnover,” says Greg at Happy Hooker. “By mid-week, cooler overnight lows should start turnover on lakes that have not yet done so. It is hard to say what the fish will do during turnover, though it is generally not great fishing. For now, however, fishing is good!

“Musky action is solid, with most catches on live bait, and dragging suckers along deep weedlines seems to be the ticket. Some anglers are throwing jerkbaits, gliders, and big rubber baits such as Medussas and Bull Dawgs.

“Walleyes are still sitting in 16-20 feet. Rig walleye suckers on jigs to get the baits down to the fish. Walleyes are not too finicky now, so you can work water fast to find fish.

“Largemouth bass anglers are not particularly active now, so not much to go by. Look for fish in cover in 6-10 feet and work spinnerbaits and chatterbaits through it.

“Smallmouth bass should be near walleyes on deeper points, bottom transitions, and rocks. Minnows and plastics on jigs will entice the fish.

“Crappies were schooled and holding in deeper water the past couple weeks, but with turnover they might have moved elsewhere. Once turnover happens, most fish try to find cover to hide from predators. Look for crappies in weed beds that still have some oxygen left in them and target the fish with jigs and minnows under bobbers.

“Bluegills and perch, as with crappies, will be in the same weedy areas that still have some life. Use crawler chunks and crappie minnows on jigs with tight-lines or under bobbers.”

Jarrett at Hayward Bait says muskies are still as shallow as 2-3 feet, with most success on bucktails and glide baits.

“Live suckers on harnesses are great to entice bait-following fish that will not commit, a deadly tactic that gets better as the water cools.

“Walleye fishing is slow, but cooler water will move many fish to shallow weed flats near deeper water. The main bite at dusk, when fish move shallow, will continue until about a week after ice-up. Fish walleye suckers on jigs or slip bobbers while covering water with jerkbaits.

“Northern pike are moving to shallow weedlines and cover holding baitfish, and as panfish slide shallower for the remaining insect bite. Live bait on slip bobbers, spinnerbaits, jerkbaits, and similar baits work well.

“Largemouth bass will move shallow for fall and early winter. Many frogs exit lakes for their winter homes and bass remain close to shoreline to ambush them. Others remain in weeds and lilies along shorelines, feeding on young bluegills. Weeds will not last long, so target these fish while you can!

“Smallmouth bass are schooling in mid-depth areas, feeding heavily on young baitfish. Walleye suckers can provide anglers a fun bite for big smallmouth. Plastics remain effective, but live bait can really trigger fish to bite.

“Crappie and bluegill are in multiple areas, some schooling over main lake basins, and others close to structure such as weed edges and cribs. Live bait and plastics under floats or on jigs will be effective until ice-up. The tricky part is finding the fish, but the bite is relatively good as long as you are on them.”

Mike at Jenk’s says the Chippewa Flowage is down 2.5 feet, with water temperatures in the low to mid 50s. Fall colors are at peak and look beautiful!

“Sad news to report this week is the passing of Randy Armsbury, the previous owner of Jenk’s. He was a legend in the local community, as well as in the bait industry, and we will miss him deeply. Randy always told me how much he loved still working around the shop after he retired because he got to see so many of you. Your kindness and friendship meant so much to him. May he rest easy now and watch over all of us.

“Musky fishing with suckers is hot, that is for sure, with many anglers reporting significant action on suckers. Most anglers are floating suckers while casting big rubber baits, glide baits, and jerkbaits, with some reporting trolling action. There is considerable action in Moore’s Bay and Blueberry Flats with muskies chasing crappies.

“Walleyes seem to be mixed in with the crappies, with many crappie anglers catching walleyes by accident. Minnows and snap jigs are attracting the walleyes and working well this past week.

“Crappie action is very good in Moore’s Bay, with minnows best in 15-18 feet, and on Blueberry Flats. For catching bigger crappies, Hyper Rattles, Jigging Raps, and Shiver Minnows are working well in about 20-24 feet.”

This week, DNR fisheries biologist Max Wolter discusses results from this year’s fall fish surveys.

“Fall is the season when we assess the reproductive success of some of our most important species in the Hayward area. Electrofishing surveys conducted in September and October allow us to gauge if walleye, muskellunge, and other gamefish species produced a significant amount of new fish in that year.

“These surveys typically take us around the entire perimeter of the lake, looking for little muskies that are less than 12 inches and walleyes less than 7 inches. We conduct these surveys annually on many of the larger lakes in the area.

“This year’s results were not overwhelmingly positive for walleye. Many waters, including Round, Sissabagama, and Windigo lakes, saw small year classes of walleye. Even the Chippewa Flowage broke its streak of solid year classes with a smaller than average result. The exception to this pattern might be Sand Lake, which appears to have pulled off a solid, and much needed, year class of walleye.

“Musky results are always more difficult to interpret since young muskies are so rare. We typically see either zero or just one or two young of year muskies in any given survey. Our best result for muskies came from the Chippewa Flowage, where we saw three young of year muskies, the most we have seen in many years. We hope that amount of natural reproduction and stocking by DNR and partner groups will result in a nice influx of muskies.

“Other lakes that demonstrated natural reproduction of muskies this year included Barber, Sissabagama, and the Spider Chain.

“These fall surveys are important for identifying recruitment issues with walleye and musky when results are negative, but also for signs of hope for the future of our fisheries when results are positive.”

The Sawyer County deer harvest total for this season, as of October 17, is 170 deer, including 72 antlered and 98 antlerless. These totals include:

  • Archery: 43 deer (17 antlered, 26 antlerless)
  • Crossbow: 96 deer (43 antlered, 53 antlerless)
  • Youth Deer Hunt Oct. 7-8: 31 deer (12 antlered, 19 antlerless)

Fishing Report

Fishing is good for most species, though fall transition and turnover are both somewhere in the process. Check with your favorite bait shop personnel for the most current fish locations, favored baits and presentations, and bite windows.

The Hayward fishing community lost a long-time ally with the October 17 passing of Randy Armsbury, the previous owner of Jenk’s Bait and Tackle for 34 years. He had great influence on fishing in this area (and elsewhere), and anglers who were never fortunate enough to know Randy will still reap the benefits of that influence. We will miss him!


Musky action is good, with fish spread from very shallow to deep, on weeds, weedlines, rock, humps, and points, and near panfish concentrations. Musky suckers on quick-strike rigs, rubber baits, jerkbaits, gliders, stickbaits, and bucktails, as well as trolling, are all catching fish.


Walleye fishing is slow to good, with the shallow late evening into dark bite near weeds and weed flats best. During the day, find fish in basins and on brush, points, and humps out to 20 feet and deeper, as well as with crappies. Walleye suckers and minnows on jigs and/or slip bobbers, crankbaits, jerkbaits, minnowbaits, and plastics all work well.

Northern Pike:

Northern pike action is good to very good on shallow to mid-depth weeds, weedlines, and areas holding baitfish and panfish concentrations. Northern and walleye suckers, minnows, spinners, spinnerbaits, spoons, stickbaits, swimbaits, jerkbaits, crankbaits, and plastics can all produce action at this time.

Largemouth Bass:

Largemouth bass fishing is good, though interest is waning. Find them in shallow to mid-depth weeds, brush, warmer bays, cribs, and other cover, and along shorelines, feeding on bluegills and frogs. Minnows, spinnerbaits, chatterbaits, swimbaits, stickbaits, and plastics are all good in the right locations.

Smallmouth Bass:

Smallmouth bass action is good to very good as fish plump up for winter. Find them on mid-depth to deep hard bottom humps, points, rock, transition areas, and wherever you find walleyes. Sucker minnows and plastics work well, with the nod going to sucker minnows, but Ned and drop-shot rigs, stickbaits, and crankbaits also work well.


Crappie fishing is good to very good if you can find and stay with the schools. Check weed beds, weed edges, cribs, and other structure in 10-25 feet, and schools suspending over basins. Top baits include crappie minnows, fatheads, plastics, and Gulp! baits on jigs and/or under bobbers, and small Jigging Raps, Shiver Minnows, and Hyper Rattles.


Bluegill and perch fishing is fair to good when you locate them. Try shallower green weeds and weed edges, cribs, and look for schools in basins. Waxies, worms, crawler chunks, small minnows, and plastics on jigs and teardrops fished under bobbers are all effective.

Upcoming Events

Oct. 15: General inland trout fishing season closed on inland streams, springs, and spring ponds (see regs).

Oct. 21: Seasons opened: Mink and muskrat trapping in North Zone.

Oct. 28: Season opens: Raccoon hunting and trapping (nonresident).

Oct. 28: Full Hunter’s Moon.

Nov. 4: Seasons open in North Zone: Beaver trapping; Otter hunting and trapping (see regs).

Nov. 5: Daylight Saving Time ends at 2 a.m.

Nov. 11: Veterans Day.

Nov. 14: Hayward Lakes Chapter-Muskies Inc. general meeting, Flat Creek Lodge, 7 p.m. (715-634-4543).

Nov. 16: Crow season closes.

Nov. 17: Turkey season closes in Zones 6-7.

Nov. 17-Jan. 7: Turkey season open in Zones 1-5.

Nov. 18-26: Traditional nine-day gun deer season.

Nov. 21: Duck season closes in North Zone (see regs).

Nov. 23: Thanksgiving Day.

Nov. 26: Full Beaver Moon.

Nov. 27-Dec. 6: Muzzleloader deer season.

Nov. 29: Mourning dove season closes.

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.