The forecast calls for falling snow ‑ and temperatures ‑ through Thursday, which will delight deer hunters and those anxious for ice fishing. Perhaps others not so much. We always adapt to seasonal changes, but again, some more happily than do others!) Enjoy any sunshine, as well as the “crisp” late fall air!
Reminder (for those who might not be aware!): Wisconsin’s traditional nine-day gun deer season opens this Saturday, November 19, and runs through Sunday, November 27.
“Quiet Lakes’ fishing is still good for the diehards,” says Greg at Happy Hooker.
“Musky fishing is consistent, with suckers on quick-strike rigs boating some nice fish. While fishing a Suick on a steep breakline close to shore at dark, we raised a nice fish twice right at the boat. Fun when all you can make out is thrashing ‑ followed by choice words! We fished some bays with green weeds ‑ a bit crazy to find this time of year ‑ and our suckers moved as if chased, but we did not catch anything.
“Walleye anglers are jigging fatheads and plastics on rock and sand mid-lake humps tapering into basins. Working jigs back to the boat is deadly for catching fish. Fish you find now will likely be on those same spots in early ice season.
“Northern pike are around baitfish on weeds, flats, and points, and at this time, pike can be in water shallower than one thinks. Small musky suckers and walleye suckers off the boat side can be great for pike at this time.
“Largemouth bass reports will not appear again until next spring or if the bite picks up during ice season.
“Smallmouth bass relate to the same spots as walleyes, as they prefer the same types of structure and eat the same presentations.
“Crappies are schooling in deep basins. Jigging Raps that get deep quickly, and minnows and plastics on small jigs, are great ways to catch deep crappies.
“Bluegills and perch are in hiding, which might be shallow weeds on some lakes and deep timber on other lakes. Minnows, plastics, and Gulp! baits on jigs are great choices.”
Jarrett at Hayward Bait says musky fishing is slowing, though hardcore enthusiasts are still at it.
“Many anglers hang suckers off the boat looking for one big bite, while others troll big baits such as Headlocks and Mattlocks. Fish follow food at this time, so look for fish suspending under schools of baitfish or ambush points on weedlines and points. Take your time ‑ with the cooling water, these fish inspect baits more closely.
“Walleye and northern pike patterns synchronize close to ice-up. Dropping water temperatures have fish targeting panfish around shallower weeds in 5-15 feet, depending on water clarity. Walleyes gear up for solid evening bites, though most days it is game on for most species from 2-5:30 p.m. Pike are go-getters during daytime hours. Live bait shines, but jerkbaits cranked slowly through shallow water also do the job.
“Bass reports should soon be available for anglers targeting largemouth through the ice.
“Crappies hold to fall spots throughout winter, with a few staying near weedlines. Camping on and waiting for the fish on spots that attract them, such as deep edges, corners, and substrate transitions is the best option. Some fish stick toward the basin bottoms, but oxygen depletion through winter gradually pushes them towards the top of the water column. Work jigs and minnows slowly.
“Bluegills move shallow, usually very shallow, at the start of early ice, and in some spots anglers might find them in 2 feet. The key is very quiet approaches and allowing a spot settle down. Presentations start to shrink with colder water, and waxies and spikes on ice jigs should now be out in force.”
This week, DNR fisheries biologist Max Wolter discusses things deer and fish have in common.
“For one week in November, fish are happy to take a backseat to deer in Wisconsin. Not to say nobody ventures out on early ice or braves the wind for one last musky outing during the 9-day gun deer season, but quite honestly, many outdoor enthusiasts look for fur, not fins, during this week.
“While I am certainly no expert in deer management, I know enough about them to recognize parallels between fish and deer.
“For starters, old ones can be relatively rare. Everyone dreams of encountering that wise old 5-year-old buck with a coat rack on its head, but in most cases older deer such as that make up a small minority of the population.
“The same is largely true for fish. In a species such as walleye, 3- to 4-year-old fish are often the most abundant in a lake, with fish older than 5 years more rare, and fish older than 10 years exceptionally rare. That is part of being a wild animal, especially a harvested species.
“Another similarity is that reproducing makes them foolish and vulnerable.
“Bucks chase does with reckless abandon during rut, which leads to many of them winding up on living room walls. Fish often become more vulnerable when they spawn, which might earn them a spot on the wall right next to the deer!
“Species such as walleye congregate in rivers or head to shallow water where they are easily accessible at known times of the year. Smallmouth bass sit tight on beds, providing a bullseye for their location.
“Another similarity is how deer and fish spend their time. If not reproducing, they are eating, resting, or trying to hide. Those are really the only three options.
“If you can figure out when and where they will do those activities, you will be successful for both deer and fish!”
The Sawyer County deer harvest total, as of November 8, is 615 deer, including 361 antlered and 254 antlerless. These totals include:
- Archery: 173 deer (107 antlered, 66 antlerless)
- Crossbow: 388 deer (228 antlered, 160 antlerless)
- Youth Deer Hunt Oct. 8-9: 54 deer (26 antlered, 28 antlerless)
Fall turkey season in zones 6 and 7 closes Nov. 18 and thus far, hunter harvest in zones 4, 6, and 7 is as follows:
- Zone 4: 377
- Zone 6: 213
- Zone 7: 114
Fall turkey hunters have registered 2,248 turkeys in the state as of November 1.
The fall season in zones 1-5 runs through Jan. 8. For those interested, MANY bonus authorizations ($10/residents; $15/nonresidents) are still available in zones 1-4 at one per person, per day, until the zone sells out or season ends.
Hayward Rod and Gun Club, 3 miles east of Hayward on Country Road B, will host its annual Rifle Sight-in Days through November 18, from 9 a.m.-4 p.m. daily. The fee is $6/rifle. Experienced club members will be on hand to assist. The club is also selling chances for a fundraiser drawing 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.
Hayward Lakes Chapter-Muskies Inc. welcomes the public to attend its meeting, Tuesday, November 15, starting at 7 p.m., at Flat Creek Lodge in Hayward. Admission is free. This is a general business meeting to review the fall tournament results, set the 2023 budget, and elect officers for 2023. Anyone interested in becoming a new Muskies, Inc. member can purchase a half-price membership at the meeting. For more information, contact Mike Persson at (715) 634-4543.
The fall-winter transition is now in full effect. Fishing remains good for those hardy anglers extending the open water season and it will remain good ‑ maybe even get better ‑ when it (soon) becomes ice fishing only.
Ice-up is arriving (love it or hate it) and anglers should note regulation changes from April 2020 that changed the closing date for open water musky season to December 31. Open water is considered conditions that do NOT allow using ice as a fishing platform.
Musky fishing is slowing, though anglers continue to search for the “big” one. Some fish are suspending under baitfish schools, while others are on weeds, weedlines, points, bays, bars, and breaklines. Find their food and you will find muskies. Suckers on quick-strike rigs, Suicks, and large trolled baits such as Mattlocks all produce.
Walleye fishing is good, with best success in late afternoon into evening hours. Look for them near baitfish and panfish in mid-depth to shallow weeds, rock, sand, and humps. Walleye suckers, fatheads, plastics, and jerkbaits worked slowly are all catching fish.
Northern pike fishing is good to very good during the day, particularly during mid-afternoon, as the fish continue to bulk up for winter. Find them around mid-depth to shallow weeds, points, and flats holding concentrations of baitfish and panfish. Northern and walleye suckers, minnows, bucktails, and jerkbaits can all grab a pike’s interest!
Any anglers fishing for largemouth are keeping it a close secret. Unless some hard water anglers focus on largemouth, this will be the final report for this season. Unless we return to 60-degree temperatures (sure… see previous sentence).
Smallmouth bass are on weeds, rock, sand, points, and humps in 6-18 feet searching for food (i.e., panfish and baitfish). Sucker minnows, fatheads, and plastics on jigs, and some crankbaits/jerkbaits, are all quite effective. As with largemouth, angler interest is waning and this will most likely conclude the smallmouth reports for this season.
Crappie fishing is good on mid-depth to deep weeds, weedlines, and lake basins. Make sure to check the entire water column. Crappie minnows, waxies, plastics, and Gulp! baits on small jigs and plain hooks will catch fish, as will small Jigging Raps and similar baits.
Bluegill and Perch:
Bluegill and perch fishing is fair to good as early ice begins to form on area lakes. Shallow to deep weeds and brush hold fish and will do so for some time. Small jigs, teardrops, and plain hooks with waxies, spikes, minnows, plastics, and Gulp! baits all work well. The less you announce your presence, the better your chances.
Nov. 13: Elk season closed (reopens Dec. 8-16).
Nov. 15: Hayward Lakes Chapter-Muskies Inc. meeting, 7 p.m., at Flat Creek Lodge (715-634-4543).
Nov. 17: Crow season closes.
Through Nov. 18: Hayward Rod and Gun Club rifle sight-in days, $6/rifle, 9 a.m.-4 p.m. (715-634-4912).
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. 7: Full Cold Moon (will appear full the night before and after its peak).
Dec. 8-11: Four-day antlerless-only deer hunt (see regs).
Dec. 10: Application deadline for bear and spring turkey season permits.
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.