The Hayward area featured fantastic fall weather this past weekend, with the current forecast calling for more of the same through Thursday this week. There are some changes in store, though better than one might expect this time of year! Take advantage of these days before there is a recall notice!
Reminder: Daylight Saving Time ends officially at 2 a.m. this Sunday, November 6. Remember to reset clocks by turning back one hour, particularly hunters and others who base schedules on sunrise and sunset.
“Anglers will get better chances at bigger fish with the water cooling and the good weather. Most action is on suckers on quick-strike rigs, with some on glide baits. Fish are relating to weeds, humps, points, and edges.
“Walleyes are around weeds and rocks, and jigging for fall walleyes is a top tactic for good reason ‑ it catches fish ‑ and fatheads on jigs is the ticket. Start shallow where baitfish are hiding from predators. If you do not find fish, work deep edges of weeds and points dropping into deeper water.
“Northern pike are hitting suckers regularly, though anglers are still catching pike on spinnerbaits, jerkbaits, gliders, and big jigs with trailers. Work any structure anywhere in the water column.
“Largemouth bass reports are scarce, but targeting largemouth is not common this time of year. Try deep running crankbaits and working spinnerbaits slowly to get them deeper.
“Smallmouth bass are staging on deep hard and soft bottom transitions. Minnows and plastics on jigs work great, and deep crankbaits catch active fish as well.
“Crappies are schooling in deep holes and basins ‑ and deep is relative to each lake. There is a good chance fish you find there now will be there for first ice. Small Jigging Raps and similar baits work fantastic. Super aggressive jigging is not necessary, as light twitching works fine.
“Bluegills and perch are hiding in green cabbage and milfoil that is not super thick. Crappie minnows and plastics on small jigs under bobbers or jigged over the side will put fish in the boat.”
Jarrett at Hayward Bait says musky fishing remains steady.
“Many anglers switched to 12- to 15-inch suckers on live bait rigs as their main tactic and it is working well. Fish are coming from many different lakes and depths, with most catches near or over weeds in 10-15 feet. If you cast, think big, with big Bull Dawgs, swim baits, and glide baits the key.
“Walleye action remains slow with the up and down weather and live bait is the key to moving finicky fish. Anglers are catching fish in various depths, with some tight to bottom in 25-40 feet. Reel up deep fish slowly to limit stress on the air bladders, especially fish you intend to release. Other fish are chasing panfish hugging remaining shallow weeds.
“Northern pike fishing is steady. Anglers report fish in 10-25 feet, but the key is remaining weeds or structure. Fish are aggressive enough to chase down baits, though many catches are by walleye anglers using live bait. Husky Jerks, swimbaits, and spoons are also working well for these toothy critters.
“Largemouth and smallmouth bass fishing and success reports are again unavailable.
“Crappies are still roaming basins, but deeper in the water column. Other fish are holding tight to cribs, only venturing out during prime times to feed. Good electronics will help you find the deep schools of fish ‑ and then you drop jigs with minnows or plastics in their faces!
“Bluegill action tapered off as they slid deeper due to cooler weather and shallow weeds disappearing. Fish will not move far from those remaining shallow weeds, however, as insects are hatching and moving around there. Until early ice, the fish will hold to cover as long as it is healthy and provides food.”
This week, DNR fisheries biologist Max Wolter discusses minnows ‑ and where to find them in Hayward area lakes.
“Anglers are constantly searching for an edge in their perpetual battle of wits with the fish they seek. Oftentimes, anglers are looking to find baitfish and create presentations to mimic them.
“So, what kinds of baitfish are common in Hayward area lakes?
“Several species, including white sucker and two species of shiners, are present in almost all area lakes. Common shiners are in open areas, often over sand; golden shiners are much more oriented to aquatic vegetation. White suckers range in size, with smaller ones often found in shallow sandy or gravel areas; larger suckers are often in deeper water.
“Bluntnose minnows and spottail shiners are present in some of our larger lakes. These species are often in schools and can be shallow or in moderate depths, and often associated with lake features such as bars or above beds of vegetation. The very sparkly emerald shiners are present in some lakes and can form very large schools.
“Darters are also common in many of our lakes, but these small bottom-dwellers may not always be popular prey for gamefish due to their secretive behavior.
“Our largest and deepest lakes have habitats that can support a few additional prey species, such as cisco, stickleback, and sculpin. These species can be very important prey items, especially for fish occupying deep water, such as walleye.
“While these species are all interesting and important parts of the food web, anglers should not overlook panfish as a prey item. Diet studies of gamefish on lakes in our area frequently find perch and bluegill as some of the most commonly consumed items. These species are often very abundant, come in a variety of sizes, and occupy some of the same habitats as our gamefish.”
The Sawyer County deer harvest total so far this year, as of October 25, is 347 deer, including 169 antlered and 178 antlerless. These totals include:
- Archery: 82 deer (37 antlered, 45 antlerless)
- Crossbow: 211 deer (106 antlered, 105antlerless)
- Youth Deer Hunt Oct. 8-9: 54 deer (26 antlered, 28 antlerless)
- Zone 4: 328
- Zone 6: 185
- Zone 7: 91
The fall turkey season in zones 6 and 7 closes Nov. 18. The fall 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: 849
- Zone 2: 906
- Zone 3: 732
- Zone 4: 759
Hayward Rod and Gun Club, 3 miles east of Hayward on Country Road B, will host its annual Rife Sight-in Days November 12-18, from 9 a.m.-4 p.m. daily. The fee is $6/rifle and experienced club members will be on hand to assist. As a fundraiser, the club is also selling drawing chances for a Savage Axis XP .270 Win. rifle with a 3-9x50mm Simmons scope. Tickets are $10/each or 3/$20. The drawing is Friday, Nov. 18, at 4 p.m., and the winner need not be present. For more information, call (715) 634-4912.
Anglers who did not already store their boats are receiving an extension of good weather open water season this fall! That does not mean fish are not already transitioning, however. Learn the most current transition changes by talking with the folks at your favorite bait and tackle store before you hit the water.
Musky action is good to very good and getting better nearly every day with the cooling water. Focus on weeds, weed edges, points, humps, and structure in 8-18 feet. Medium to large suckers on quick-strike rigs are working best, but anglers are also catching fish on big Bull Dawgs, stickbaits, swimbaits, jerkbaits, and gliders. Do figure eights!
Walleye fishing is still slow, but with some anglers having success. Fish are at varied depths, from shallow to deep, and the trick is finding active fish. Shallower water is best in low light conditions; going deep during the day is probably best, but never know! Weeds, weed edges, rock, points, humps, flats are all possible holding areas. Baits of choice include walleye suckers and fatheads on jigs, spinner, and live bait rigs, Jigging Raps, crankbaits, stickbaits, and Beetle Spins.
Northern pike action is good and consistent, with fish visiting various depths and cover. Most action is around weeds and weed edges in 8-25 feet, and as always, any place hosting panfish and baitfish concentrations. Top baits include northern suckers, minnows, spinners, spinnerbaits, spoons, swimbaits, Husky Jerks, jerkbaits, gliders, and swimbaits.
Largemouth bass anglers are not in great number at this time, but those who are finding fish are doing well. Find mid-depth to shallower weed areas holding panfish and baitfish and you should be good to go. Live bait, spinners, spinnerbaits, minnowbaits, and crankbaits all work at certain times. Offer the fish some options and they will tell you what they want.
Smallmouth bass anglers are doing well fishing deeper rock, hard bottom and soft bottom transitions, and river channels. Sucker minnows, minnows, plastics on jigs and drop-shot rigs, and crankbaits are all working quite well.
Crappie fishing is good to very good. Fish are schooling and low in the water column in deep holes, basins, and cribs. Best fishing is in late afternoon into evening hours. Minnows, waxies, plastics, and Gulp! baits on small jigs, and small Beetle Spins and Jigging Raps are all effective.
Bluegill and perch fishing has slowed somewhat and/or not many anglers are currently targeting these species. Work shallow weeds, green weeds if you can find some, and you should have success. Waxies, worms, small minnows, plastics, and Gulp! baits on small jigs, teardrops, and plain hooks, with or without bobbers, are the best enticements.
Nov. 6: Daylight Saving Time ends at 2 a.m. ‑ turn clocks back one hour (enjoy the extra hour of sleep!)
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. 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. 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).
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.