Hayward Lakes Outdoor Report 11-14-23

Steve Suman

Whatever your schedule indicates for this week, set aside a bit of time to get outdoors and enjoy some outstanding ‑ and unusually nice ‑ fall weather in the North Woods! Forecasts show mostly clear, sunny, and high temperatures in the mid-50s through Thursday. Expect highs in the 40s from Friday into next week. Enjoy it while you can! Do be aware that Saturday is the start of Wisconsin’s traditional nine-day gun deer season.

“The weather in the Quiet Lakes’ area looks unseasonably warm this week,” says Greg at Happy Hooker, “with temperatures around 50 degrees every day and with very little chance of rain.

“Fishing should be great, but it is hard telling how this warm-up will affect it. At this time, the water temperatures on the Quiet Lakes are in the low to mid 40s.

“Musky fishing is still good, with most all fish still coming on live bait. Anglers are catching fish on weed edges and rocky points adjacent to deep water.

“Walleyes anglers have been few, so where the fish are and how to catch them is just an educated guess. Try using live bait on jigs, pitching the jigs from deep and working them back to the boat slowly.

“Northern pike are relating to weed edges in both live and dead vegetation. Small suckers and crankbaits are great baits to try right now.

“Crappies, with these current water temperatures, could be schooling in the basins and/or starting to push shallower as we get closer to ice-up. It is difficult to tell with this major warm front approaching, but it will surely move around the fish. Use live bait and nothing flashy, as simple set-ups will catch wary fish.

“Bluegill and perch are in weed beds and around shallow structure to hide from big fish. As with crappies, use simple set-ups to target these fish.”

Jarrett at Hayward Bait says unseasonably warm temperatures offer musky anglers a unique opportunity.

“Anglers can fish musky at fall peak without losing fingers to the cold! Fish will find big Bull Dawgs, tubes, plastics, and suckers fished near the boat of interest.

“Walleye fishing is quiet, which is likely to continue until ice-up. Fish are as shallow as two feet on weedlines holding crappie, bluegill, and perch fry. They will spook easily, so make long casts. Live bait near bottom or under floats work well, and jerkbaits are effective for aggressive fish.

“Northern pike are moving onto shallow flats and weedlines holding plentiful numbers of baitfish and gamefish. Slip bobbers suspending suckers a foot or so off bottom work well.

“Crappies are either in basins feeding on small bugs emerging from muck in 15-35 feet, or on shallow weedlines feeding on remaining insects. Crappie minnows, grubs, and plastics on small jigs work best.

“Bluegills will move to shallow weed cover for the first part of winter, then to deeper flats, cribs, and other structure. Waxies and spikes on small jigs will do the trick.

“Deer are really starting to move with rut activity kicking off, and archery and crossbow hunters have already brought some nice deer through the shop. Firearms season is right around the corner, so make sure you are geared up with everything you need to track down ‘da turdy point buck!’”

This week, DNR fisheries biologist Max Wolter discusses Hayward area northern pike improvement projects.

“Managing non-native pike in native muskellunge waters has become a big issue in the Hayward area.

“Competition between pike and musky has led to lower muskellunge abundance in some of our historically high-density populations and created more need for stocking in some lakes. Pike have their own value, of course, but our goal is to minimize pike abundance as an introduced species in lakes managed for muskellunge.

“Angler harvest represents one of the most direct and impactful ways to reduce and manage pike abundance. This has resulted in the formation of several programs to educate anglers on the importance of harvesting pike and incentivizing those who otherwise might not consider them as a food fish.

“The original program was the ‘Pike Improvement Project’ (PIP), started on the Chippewa Flowage in 2019, and followed by the initiation of similar projects on the Tiger Cat and Spider chains. We have worked with project organizers to set somewhat lofty goals, based on the number of pike we believe need harvested to limit pike abundance. Typically, those goals are about one pike harvested per acre of water.

“The first PIP on the Chippewa Flowage in 2019 saw a harvest of 7,271, an impressive number, but still short of our goal. The next few years saw pike harvests of 3,536 in 2021, 2,264 in 2022, and 3,428 in 2023. Encouragingly, the PIP incentivized anglers to start keeping smaller pike, which is likely necessary for the success of these programs.

“On the Tiger Cat Chain, anglers harvested 553 pike in 2021 and 704 in 2022, again, nice numbers, but short of the one per-acre goal.

“These programs are still new, and in many ways experimental, as we learn more about how both people and fish respond to the pike harvest concept. We expect several of these programs to get a boost from a proposal to increase the pike bag limit on the Chippewa Flowage, Lac Courte Oreilles, and the Tiger Cat and Spider chains. The proposals are not yet in effect, but we will update anglers on any future regulation changes.”

Wisconsin’s traditional nine-day gun deer season opens this Saturday, November 18, and runs through November 26. You can purchase a license through Go Wild or at one of the more than 1,000 license agents in the state. Ammunition is more available than last year, but do not wait until Friday to find it ‑ and make sure to properly site in your rifle. Know the laws and enjoy a safe hunt!

For more information, visit https://dnr.wisconsin.gov/GoHunting.

The DNR seeks hunters to participate in the Deer Hunter Wildlife Survey and report animals they observe while hunting. The survey period is open through Jan. 7 and requires no registration. Hunters can submit observations with a smartphone, computer, or through the mail.

For more information, search “Deer Hunter Wildlife Survey” on the DNR website.

The Sawyer County deer harvest total for this season, as of November 7, is 443 deer, including 258 antlered and 185 antlerless. These totals include:

  • Archery: 121 deer (71 antlered, 50 antlerless)
  • Crossbow: 291 deer (175 antlered, 116 antlerless)
  • Youth Deer Hunt (Oct. 7-8): 31 deer (12 antlered, 19 antlerless)

Hunter donations to the DNR Deer Donation Program help put food on the table for families in need. Simply provide CWD samples (if required), contact a participating processor, and drop off the deer. Non-hunters and people unable to donate a deer can still help people in need with a financial contribution to the program.

For more information, visit dnr.wisconsin.gov/topic/hunt/donation.html.

Hayward Rod and Gun Club site-in days run through this Saturday November 17, from 9 a.m.-4 p.m., at the club’s range on County Hwy B east of Hayward. The fee is $6 per firearm, with club members on hand to assist. The club is selling drawing chances ($10/each or three/$20) for a Savage Axis .270 Win. rifle, scope, sling, and box of ammunition. For more information, visit haywardrodandgun.club or call (715) 634-4912.

Hayward Lakes Chapter-Muskies Inc. invites the public to attend its club meeting Tuesday, November 14, starting at 7 p.m., at Flat Creek Lodge. Featured speaker DNR fisheries researcher Colin Dassow will give a presentation on a Spider Lake musky project. The meeting will include a review of the 2023 fall tournament, 2024budget planning, and election of officers and board members. People interested in becoming a Muskies, Inc. member can purchase a half-price membership at the meeting. For more information, call Mike Persson (715) 634-4543.

Fishing Report

This week offers mild weather for anglers who choose to take advantage of the pleasant fishing conditions. Fishing is fair to good for most species, but who cares when fishing under sunny skies, in moderate temperatures, in November?


Musky fishing is good to very good and anglers should have a pleasant week pursuing them on weeds, weedlines, weed edges, and rocky points offering a deep escape route nearby. Suckers on quick-strike rigs are the top producer at this time, but big plastics, tubes, and Bull Dawgs, work well, as does trolling big stickbaits and crankbaits.


Walleye fishing is slow to fair, but subject to change at any time now. Scattered, they are in, near, and along shallow to very shallow weeds and weedlines offering cover for baitfish and panfish. Walleye suckers, fatheads, and other live bait under slip bobbers or on jigs fished close to the bottom work well, and jerkbaits will draw hits from very active fish.

Northern Pike:

Northern pike action is good to very good. Look for fish near shallow to mid-depth weeds and weedlines with baitfish and panfish concentrations ‑ follow their food source! Northern suckers, walleye suckers, spinners, spinnerbaits, spoons, and crankbaits are all productive. Use bigger baits for trophy pike.


Largemouth and smallmouth bass angler activity is minimal. The fish are still there and eating, however, and anglers pursuing them during this mild weather should focus on weeds, brush, and cribs holding panfish. Walleye suckers, fatheads, and crankbaits can all draw interest.


Crappie fishing is good to very good in and around shallow to mid-depth remaining green weeds and weedlines and/or deep basins out to 30 feet, with fish on the move. Crappie minnows, fatheads, plastics, and Gulp! baits on small jigs fished under slip bobbers are doing the job.


Bluegill and perch fishing is fair too good in and around shallow weeds, weedlines, weed flats, and structure, and mid-depth brush and cribs. Waxies, spikes, worms, small minnows, plastics, and Gulp! baits on small jigs, teardrops, and plain hooks are all effective at different times.

Upcoming Events

Nov. 11-17: Hayward Rod and Gun Club rifle site-in days, 9 a.m.-4 p.m. $6/gun (715-634-4912).

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

Nov. 18-Jan. 7: Turkey season open in Zones 1-5.

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.

Nov. 30: Walleye season closes on the Chippewa Flowage and Chippewa River downstream to Arpin Dam.

Dec. 7-10: Four-day antlerless-only deer hunt (see regs).

Dec. 10: Application deadline: Spring turkey; Black bear.

Dec. 16: Goose season closes in Northern Zone.

Dec. 21: Winter Solstice – first day of winter (day with the fewest hours of sunlight ‑ but days begin to grow longer!)

Dec. 26: Full Cold Moon.

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.