The North Woods enjoyed a beautiful October weekend, with sunshine and highs in the low to mid-70s. The forecast calls for clear skies after Tuesday, with cooler temperatures, but warming toward the weekend. It is still fall and the weather is mild ‑ take advantage while you can!
“Quiet Lakes’ fishing is pretty good,” says Greg at Happy Hooker, “and now is prime time to get on the biggest fish as they feed heavily for winter.
“Musky anglers casting and not dragging suckers this time of year are missing out! Casting baits is effective, but once fish see an easy meal after you ‘lure’ them in (dad joke), they will likely hit the live bait. Gliders, jerkbaits, rubber baits, tubes, and anything you can pause can make fish eat. Work any structure, whether green weeds, rocky points, neck-downs, islands, etc. For weedlines, stay on deep edges with suckers and cast shallow. On rocks, points, or islands, work baits very shallow and keep suckers off the back of the boat.
“Walleye reports are minimal, but jigs and minnows are common at this time. Light jigs with minnows or plastics with fluke style tails, worked slowly and with a pause during the retrieve, can be the ticket. Hard to soft bottom transitions, rocky humps, and points dropping into basins are good spots to try.
“Northern pike will hit just about any offerings at this time, from minnows on jigs to 12-inch crankbaits more than half their size. Pike can be on any structure and anywhere in the water column, so fish any water that looks good.
“Largemouth bass reports are sparse, but spinnerbaits and fatheads under bobbers should produce. Look for fish relating to weeds in shallow bays with warmer water.
“Smallmouth bass are in the same spots and taking the same presentations as walleyes. Look for hard to soft bottom transitions, deep points, and main lake humps that drop into basins.
“Crappies are suspending near bottom in deep basins. Jigs and minnows on slip bobbers get down fast to keep on schools, and jigs without bobbers can be effective. Tip jigs with crappie minnows, waxies, plastics, or Gulp! Minnows.
“Bluegills and perch are in shallow bays with green weeds. Minnows on jigs under spring or slip bobbers are great choices this time of year.”
Jarrett at Hayward Bait says musky action is solid, despite the warm weather.
“Fishing should improve through the new moon phase ‑ and if you do not look at moon phases associated with fishing, definitely check it out!
“Muskies move freely in the cool water and anglers are catching fish in various depths. Suckers on live bait rigs off the boat work well, with casting and retrieving drawing fish to the boat. In the cool water, fish look for one meal rather than a few and not expend energy chasing.
“Walleye fishing remains quiet. Some anglers are catching fish in 30-40 feet on the deep, clear lakes. Others report fish shallow in the evening, where they will be through late fall and early winter. During the day, deep live bait rigs are the ticket for finicky walleyes. At night, shallow crankbaits and jerkbaits in the shallows will pull actively feeding fish.
“Northern pike fishing is solid. Pike, just like the muskies, are roaming freely into shallow and deep water, with some sitting deep alongside walleyes. These fish are feeding on bluegills and perch that ventured too far from cribs, have not yet made their way shallow, or are clinging to remaining shallow and mid-depth weeds. Live bait rigs and aggressive jigging work well in deep water, while jerkbaits and swimbaits hold true in mid-depths.
“Largemouth and smallmouth bass anglers offered no reports this week.
“Crappies should start moving more. Look for fish suspending above main lake basins, eating the bugs that appeared with the warm weather. Others are tight to structure such as cribs in 15-25 feet. Jigs and minnows will pull fish from structure, but casting small plastics for fish roaming basins will quickly get you on the most active fish.”
Mike at Jenk’s says the Chippewa Flowage is down 3 feet and dropping, with the water temperature low- to mid-50s.
“Musky fishing is solid, with suckers the bait of choice. Trolling and casting are both effective, but suckers are producing the most action. Muskies are in the shallows chasing after baitfish, as are other predatory fish.
“Walleye reports are few lately because most anglers are chasing muskies. The odds are that walleyes have not yet moved super deep and are still chasing baitfish in shallower water. A few anglers report that most of their success comes very late in the day and into the evening.
“Crappies are in and around Moore’s Bay, Blueberry Flats, and the cribs in Chief Narrows. Crappie minnows, Mini-Mites, and one-inch Gulp! Minnows are the way to go.
“Regular business hours ended this past weekend. We will still stock some suckers and bait, and if you need anything, call (715) 462-3055 and we can be here for you.”
This week, DNR fisheries biologist Max Wolter discusses the sex of fish and catch rates.
“The sex of a fish, male or female, influences a great deal of its biology.
“Female fish typically make a larger reproductive investment than males, since it takes a lot of energy to produce eggs. In many species of fish, the females also grow larger, an adaptation to allow them to produce and lay more eggs.
“Some of these biological differences can translate to what anglers catch. Male and female fish behave differently at certain points of the year, sometimes making them more, or less, susceptible to angling.
“A Canadian study examined the sex ratio of pike caught by anglers and in fisheries surveys.
“Anglers caught more pike females than males in winter months, Dec-Feb., and in late summer, June-August. In some months, the catch of females was double that of males. Anglers caught more males in late-spring/April, and fall, Sept/Oct. Averaged throughout the year, anglers harvested about five female pike for every four males.
“These results key in on some biological characteristics of the two sexes.
“Females may feed more heavily than males in late winter as they develop eggs they will lay in spring. This is why a large portion of the ice-fishing pike catch is often female, a personal observation made while fishing in the Hayward area. In spring, males may stay in the shallows longer than females, making them more susceptible to capture.
“This kind of information can be useful for setting fishing regulations. In the Hayward area, it is also beneficial to know what times of year to target different sexes of pike in musky lakes where pike populations might need reducing.”
Fall turkey hunters in Wisconsin have registered 1,191 turkeys in the state as of October 18, with harvest in zones 4, 6, and 7 as follows:
- Zone 4: 277
- Zone 6: 90
- Zone 7: 74
The fall season in zones 6-7 closes Nov. 18. The season in zones 1-5 runs through Jan. 8 and bonus permits are still available in zones 1-4. Sale of bonus turkey authorizations continue at one per person, per day, until the unit sells out or season ends. Bonus authorizations cost $10 for residents and $15 for nonresidents. The DNR has not yet updated deer harvest totals since the last posting, October 11.
Fall transition is in effect, so ‑ seriously ‑ stop at your favorite bait shop for the most current information on fish locations, bait preferences, presentations, and bite windows. Make it easy on yourself!
Musky action is very good and improving with the cooling water. Fish are in various locations and depths, near weeds, weedline edges, humps, points, rock, other structure, and concentrations of panfish and baitfish. Suckers on quick-strike rigs, gliders, rubber baits, bucktails, jerkbaits, and stickbaits, and both trolling and casting, are all producing.
Walleye fishing is fair to good, with best fishing late in the day into after dark. Go as deep as 40 feet during the day, depending on the lake, but work shallower areas in evening hours. Humps, points, brush, and basins can all hold fish. Live bait, crankbaits, jerkbaits, minnowbaits, and plastics are all effective offerings.
Northern pike action is very good. Fish are near shallow to deep weeds and panfish and baitfish concentrations. Sucker minnows, spinners, spinnerbaits, spoons, swimbaits, crankbaits, jerkbaits ‑ if it moves, they could hit it!
Largemouth bass fishing is fair to good, but receiving little interest. Check shallow to mid-depth weeds, brush, cribs, and other structure, as well as warmer shallow bays with panfish and baitfish. Live bait/minnows, spinners, spinnerbaits, stickbaits, crankbaits, swimbaits, and plastics can all tempt bass at this time.
Smallmouth bass fishing is also good and getting slightly more attention than largemouth. Find them in about the same areas holding walleyes, from deep, hard bottom humps and points to shallows holding baitfish. Sucker minnows on jigs, Ned rigs, and drop-shot rigs, plastics, stickbaits, and crankbaits all work at various times and conditions.
Crappie fishing is good once you locate the schools ‑ and even better if you can stay on them. Look for fish moving and suspending in mid-depths to nearly 30 feet in lake basins, on cribs, and near other structure. Crappie minnows, fatheads, waxies, plastics, Mini-Mites, and Gulp! baits on jigs or plain hooks, under slip bobbers, are all producing action.
Bluegill and Perch:
Bluegill and perch fishing is fair to good anywhere you can find shallow green weeds and/or warmer bays with weeds. Waxies, worms, small minnows, plastics, and Gulp! baits on jigs, with/without slip bobbers, are all working well.
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.
Oct. 22: Trapping seasons opened: Mink; Muskrat (see regs).
Oct. 26: Crex Meadows weeknight crane tour, 5-7 p.m. (715-463-2739).
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. 8: Beaver Moon.
Nov. 11: Veterans Day.
Nov. 12-18: Hayward Rod and Gun Club rifle sight-in days, $6/rifle, 9 a.m.-4 p.m. (715-634-4912).
Nov. 13: Elk season closes (reopens Dec. 8-16).
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. 22: Duck season closes in North Zone (see regs).
Nov. 24: Thanksgiving Day.
Nov. 28-Dec. 7: Muzzleloader deer season.
Nov. 29: Mourning dove season closes.
Dec. 8-11: Four-day antlerless-only deer hunt (see regs).
Dec. 10: Application deadline for 2023 spring turkey and bear seasons.
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.