Hayward Lakes Outdoor Report 10-3-23

Steve Suman

Following a few days of low to mid 80-degree temperatures, the Hayward area is destined for a significant cooling towards the end of this week. Highs in the 50s and even 40s are in the forecast, including some rain and wind, and frost is quite possible. It is time to adapt, dig out the appropriate clothing, and continue enjoying the North Woods’ fall colors!

Quiet Lakes’ water temperatures are still hovering around the mid-60s,” says Greg at Happy Hooker. “The bite is decent overall, though not great, with the unseasonably warm temperatures keeping fish from hitting the fall feed bag.

“Musky fishing is good, with fish around shallow weeds and structure, and most catches on bucktails, topwaters, and suckers. Anglers report fish hovering behind suckers, but not committing.

“Walleye anglers are targeting fish with aggressive jigging in deeper water.

“Northern pike anglers are catching fish while casting musky baits and live bait around shallow weeds and structure, so pike are ready for the fall bite!

“Largemouth bass are in and around weed beds and fishing is good with walleye suckers and crawlers under bobbers, as well as with #3-#5 inline Mepps spinners.

“Smallmouth bass are on deep rocks and hard bottom areas. Slower presentations used for walleye are work well.

“Crappies are stacked in 16-20 feet and anglers are catching some nice fish from the schools. Crappie minnows and plastics on jigs get down to them and is the tactic right now.

“Bluegills are in weed beds hiding from predators, and perch might be schooling in the deep basins.”

Jarrett at Hayward Bait says musky fishing was very good with cooling water temperatures.

“The general warm-up might slow fishing, but a cool-down arrives for this weekend’s Muskies Inc. tournament. Depths vary, but start with weed flats. Most anglers throw bucktails, topwaters, stickbaits, gliders, and about anything else. Musky suckers are going strong alongside cast and retrieve baits.

“Walleye fishing is slow and will be until the water cools. Some fish have moved to shallow weedlines. Take advantage of low light periods with walleye suckers on jigs or slip floats. Many anglers throw jerkbaits to trigger aggressive walleye stocking up for winter.

“Smallmouth bass are schooling and feeding aggressively. Anglers running plastics or walleye suckers in 8-20 feet catch fish throughout the day. Fishing should get better through fall, and fish will eventually move back to main lake rock points for the winter.

“Crappie and bluegill fishing is solid, with fish relating to weedlines and cribs, but will begin migrating to basins. Electronics are the key to finding and staying on fish stacked in deep water, and crappies move frequently. Jigging Raps, Rippin’ Raps, plastics, and live bait work well, over basins or on cribs.”

Mike at Jenk’s says the Chippewa Flowage is down 2.5-3 feet, with water temperatures in the mid-60s.

“Musky action is very good, with the fish around very shallow weeds. Stay deep and cast at or into the weeds or weed edges. Surface baits, double-10 bucktails, and shallow crankbaits are effective, as are suckers off the side of the boat. Fish following baits and not hitting often hit the suckers.

“Walleyes are still spread out and in transition. Minnows and crawlers are the live bait options, but the most effective tactic is trolling jointed Flicker Shads and similar baits at 9-15 feet in the water column. Running baits through river channels adjacent to weedy drop-offs is also a good way to catch a few.

“Northern pike are in and around weeds, with most catches accidental on musky baits.

“Smallmouth bass action is best on plastic minnows, though some anglers report success on Berkley Gulp! 3-inch Minnows and Paddleshads.

“Crappies are in 18-24 feet on cribs and sunken bogs. Best baits range from minnows to various panfish plastics. There is a report of good action in Moore’s Bay, so crappies might be starting into their fall pattern.”

This week, DNR fisheries biologist Max Wolter discusses ‘Oreo’ trout streams.

“Trout require cold water to survive in streams. The coldest water in most streams occur the furthest upstream, typically in the smallest headwater feeders that originate in upland areas with many groundwater inputs. In the West, this might include glacial melt water.

“If you follow a typical stream downstream, you often find water gradually warming until it reaches a point trout cannot tolerate. In these lower reaches, trout abundance is low or they do not exist at all, and warmwater species such as smallmouth bass, muskellunge, minnows, and suckers might be most prevalent.

“There are, however, a number of what I call ‘Oreo’ trout streams where the ‘good stuff’ in terms of trout habitat is in the middle of the stream. This often happens because stream headwaters are an impoundment or lake where water sits and warms in the summer.

“The Namekagon River is the most notable example of an Oreo trout stream in our area. The Namekagon is not a trout stream when it originates at Lake Namakagon Dam, as the water coming out of the lake is too warm to support trout.

“As the Namekagon rolls along, groundwater inputs and tributaries begin to cool the water, and shading from trees can play a small role. When the Namekagon reaches the Seeley area, major coldwater inputs such as Cap Creek and Big Brook create a long reach of river suitable for brown trout, though it is still too warm for brook trout through the summer.

“Continuing downstream, the river begins to transition back to warm water. The transition is fully complete a mile or two below Lake Hayward, where species such as smallmouth bass, redhorse, muskellunge, and even sturgeon occupy the river, but not trout.

“The Brunet River, near Winter, is another stream where the best trout water is in the middle reach between Lake Loretta and Lake Winter. The Little Weirgor also has a warmwater stretch near the headwaters before receiving coldwater inputs from Beaver, Buckhorn, and Maple creeks.

“Oreo trout streams flip the script a bit on where anglers might consider targeting trout, but these streams can be productive if you know where to look. Carrying a thermometer when summer trout fishing can be very useful for pinpointing areas you might want to target.”

The 45th annual Stone Lake Cranberry Festival is this Saturday, October 7, from 9 a.m.-5 p.m. The event offers more than 300 vendors, artisans, crafters, food, and more. For in-depth information, visit www.stonelakecranberryfestival.com.

Wisconsin’s Youth Deer Hunt is this weekend, October 7-8, offering young hunters an opportunity to hunt deer and gain valuable experience under the supervision of experienced hunters. Hunters 15 years of age and younger, with or without hunter education certification, are eligible to participate in the hunt with a mentor. For more information, consult the hunting regulations on the DNR website.

There is still time to enter this weekend’s Hayward Lakes Chapter-Muskies Inc. 45th Annual Fall Muskie Tournament October 6-8. The tournament offers more than $30,000 in prizes and trophies, and each registered angler receives entry in the Grand Prize drawing for a 2023 Lund 1775 Pro Guide boat, 60hp Mercury motor, and ShoreLand’r trailer.

The open entry fee is $110 and $25 for ages 16 and younger. Enter in person at Jenk’s Bait or in person or by phone at Hayward Bait (715-634-2921) until 11 p.m. Thursday, October 5.

For more information, visit www.muskiesinc-hayward.org/Poster_23.pdf or call (715) 634-2921 or 634-4543.

Fishing Report

Fishing is fair to good, depending on the species. Look for water temperatures to drop as colder weather moves into the area this week, which should kick-start seasonal fish transitions into gear. Bait shops can fill you in on the most current information on fish locations, bait and presentation preferences, and bite windows.


Musky anglers report fishing action is good to very good, though it might slow with the current (temporary) hot temperatures. Fish are on very shallow to mid-depth weeds, weed edges, flats, points, and other structure. The most productive offerings include musky suckers, bucktails, gliders, jerkbaits, stickbaits, crankbaits, and topwaters.


Walleye fishing is fair, with best success, as usual, during low light hours such as pre-sunrise and early evening into dark. Fish are scattered from shallow to deep weeds, basins, river channels, and drop-offs. Walleye suckers, fatheads, other minnows, and crawlers on jigs and under slip bobbers work well, as do trolled Flicker Shads and other crankbaits.

Northern Pike:

Northern pike action is good to very good. Many anglers are catching them while fishing for other species such as muskies and bass around shallow to mid-depth weeds, other structure, and panfish and baitfish concentrations. Northern suckers, walleye suckers, and fatheads under bobbers, and spinners, spinnerbaits, spoons, and swimbaits are effective.

Largemouth Bass:

Largemouth bass fishing is still good around shallow to mid-depth weeds, weedlines, and brush holding panfish and baitfish. Sucker minnows/minnows and crawlers under bobbers, spinners, spinnerbaits, crankbaits, plastics (worms, tubes, etc.), swim jigs, and topwaters are all working in applicable areas.

Smallmouth Bass:

Smallmouth bass fishing is good to very good and getting better as cold weather approaches. Find fish on rocks and points in depths to 22 feet. Some anglers are catching fish in areas holding walleyes. Baits of choice include walleye suckers, fatheads, plastics, and Gulp! Minnows and Paddleshads.


Crappie fishing is good to very good, with the fish stacking in 15-25 feet in/on weedlines, cribs, sunken bogs, and basins. Use your electronics to find and stay with the schools as they are on the move. Crappie minnows, fatheads, plastics, and Gulp! baits on jigs and plain hooks work well, as do Jigging Raps, Rippin Raps, and small Beetle Spins.


Bluegill fishing remains fair to good for anglers targeting these fish. Shallow to mid-depth green weeds, weedlines, basins, brush, and cribs can all hold fish. Waxies, leaf worms, crawler pieces, and plastics on jigs, teardrops, and plain hooks work well, fished with/without slip bobbers.

Upcoming Events

Sept. 30: Lake sturgeon hook and line season closed (see regs).

Oct. 6-8: Hayward Lakes Chapter-Muskies Inc. 45th Annual Fall Muskie Tournament (715-634-2921 or 634-4543).

Oct. 7: 45th annual Stone Lake Cranberry Festival, 9 a.m.-5 p.m.

Oct. 7-8: Youth Deer Hunt.

Oct. 7-15: Hunters with Disabilities gun deer hunt.

Oct. 10: Bear season closes.

Oct. 14: Seasons open: Coyote trapping; Bobcat hunting/trapping; Fox hunting/trapping; Raccoon hunting/trapping (resident); Fisher trapping; Elk (Clam Lake Zone – see regs); Bobwhite quail; Hungarian partridge (see regs).

Oct. 14: Northwest Relic Riders15th Annual Vintage Snowmobile Show, Flat Creek, 9 a.m.-3 p.m. (763-258-4038).

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

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

Oct. 21: FHNBfall fundraiser all you can eat spaghetti dinner, Flat Creek Lodge, 4:30-8 p.m. (715-634-3185).

Oct. 28: Seasons open: Raccoon hunting/trapping (nonresident).

Oct. 28: Full Hunter’s Moon. For more information on area events and activities, visit theHayward 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