Hayward Lakes Outdoor Report 11-21-23

Steve Suman

Take advantage of the somewhat moderate temperatures through Wednesday’s 42-degree high and 20-degree low, as a significant change is coming to the North Woods this week. The forecast for Thanksgiving Day Thursday shows a high of 29 degrees and a low of 11 degrees. Temperatures then bump up a bit, but not by much!

Have a safe and Happy Thanksgiving holiday!

“On the Quiet Lakes, cooler temperatures are not yet making ice,” says Greg at Happy Hooker, “but it could start by the end of this week with some temperatures in low teens. Anglers report water temperatures are around 40 degrees.

“Musky fishing will stay good until ice prevents fishing for them. Anglers are catching some big fish with live bait on sharp breaks heading off into deeper water. Slow moving artificials and big suckers are the ticket.

“Walleye anglers, the few targeting them, are not reporting much on how or where they catch them. They are buying walleye suckers, so live bait is what is working. Anglers should see walleyes chasing baitfish into shallower water. Try tossing out walleye suckers on jigs and working them back to the boat.

“Northern pike anglers should fish weed edges adjacent to deep water.

“Crappies will also be pushing into shallow water as we get even closer to first ice. Use crappie minnows on jigs or under bobbers to fish deep edges that held vegetation.

“Bluegill and perch anglers should focus on shallow weeds that still show signs of life. Even dead vegetation can hold fish this time of year ‑ any spots with good oxygen. Minnows and plastics on small jigs will catch fish.”

Jarrett at Hayward Bait says musky fishing is wrapping up for the season.

“A few die-hard anglers are still on the water with whatever remains of the available sucker supply. Other anglers are trolling or vertically jigging baits in mid-depths. They are finding fish in several locations, but most fish should be pushing into shallow water chasing food that is heading shallow for the early ice period.

“Walleyes are moving shallower by the day and anglers are picking up on the pattern. Most of this year’s crappie and bluegill fry will seek shelter in remaining shallow weeds in the warmest water and the walleye will follow them. Walleyes will spend their daylight hours just out of the shallows where they will hunt at night, holding to the bottom.

“Northern pike will push shallow, even in three feet or less. Anglers are doing well with live bait and large reaction baits such as jerkbaits and fast twitching spoons. Fish will remain shallow through two to three weeks following ice-up.

“Crappies will scoot into main lake basins and become untouchable until we get some very good ice. Some fish, however, will stay shallow on remaining weedlines. Check areas in 6-10 feet and look for inside corners, edges, or areas with access to deep water. Fish will move in and out of the weeds to feed. This is the rare occasion when it is best to sit and wait for fish that move around. Live bait works well, with plastics and small hard baits a close second.

“Bluegills are moving onto remaining shallow weeds or still holding to structure such as cribs, timber, and mid-depth weedlines. Waxies and spikes on small jigs, tungsten or lead depending on depth, will work very well.”

This week, DNR fisheries biologist Max Wolter discusses the male-female growth rate split in PIT tagged muskies.

“There is a very important concept in fisheries known as ‘sexual dimorphism,’ which basically describes how males and females within the same species often experience different growth rates and resulting body size. In most Wisconsin fishes, sexual dimorphism results in larger females, though there might be limited instances in which males attain larger sizes. We know this is true for many popular species, including walleye, northern pike, sturgeon, and muskellunge.

“Our muskellunge PIT tag project allows us to track sexual dimorphism within stocked year classes almost in real-time.

“In the Chippewa Flowage, we see male and female stocked muskellunge running relatively similar in size through their juvenile years, age 1-4. By age 6, the split between the size of males and females starts to present itself. Females at age 6 have averaged 36.8 inches, while males were just 34.2 inches, a 2.6-inch difference. The gap between the two sexes only widens from that age. At age 7, females average 38.4 inches and males 33.9, a 4.5-inch difference. At age 10, females average 43.1 inches and males 35.1, an 8-inch difference.

“At the end of their lives, the size difference between males and females from the same stocked year class one could expect to be greater than 10 inches. It is really because of sexual dimorphism that only female muskellunge have the ability to attain trophy sizes.”

The DNR will hold an informational public meeting in Ashland Wednesday, Nov. 29, to discuss Lake Superior fisheries management. The meeting at Vaughn Public Library begins at 6 p.m. Participants will discuss population status updates for cisco and lake whitefish, and a proposed new lake trout quota increase and associated rule changes. There will be an opportunity for participants to discuss any fisheries management topic of interest.

For more information, visit https://dnr.wisconsin.gov/calendar or call (715) 331-9036.

The 2024 state park and forest annual admission stickers and trail passes go on sale Friday, Nov. 24. Annual passes purchased Nov. 24 and later are valid at purchase and through Dec. 31, 2024. These admission stickers and trail passes offer access to thousands of miles of trails, dozens of beaches, and a wide variety of outdoor recreation opportunities.

Resident and nonresident annual admission stickers are available online, over the phone, and at individual state park and forest properties drive-up windows and self-registration kiosks. State trail passes are available only at the individual properties or license vendors.

All motor vehicles visiting state parks and recreation areas must display an annual sticker or daily admission pass. Some state forest and trail parking areas require the sticker or pass.

An annual vehicle admission sticker costs $28 for residents or $38 for nonresidents. Additional stickers are available for $15.50 for residents and $20.50 for nonresidents. A senior citizen annual sticker for $13 is available for residents 65 and older.

A state trail pass, $25 for resident and nonresident, is required for all people age 16 or older biking, in-line skating, horseback riding, cross-country skiing, or off-highway motorcycling on specific state trails, but not for walking or hiking.

For more information, search “vehicle admission sticker” on the DNR website.

The DNR Office of Applied Science (OAS) is asking for your help this fall and winter to identify potentially active bear dens. It is collecting den location data for the Black Bear Litter and Diet Survey. The DNR will use the information in bear management decisions, including harvest quotas. To learn more, view this video on the project.

For more information, search “reporting a bear den” on the DNR website.

The Sawyer County deer harvest total for this season, as of November 14, is 566 deer, including 353 antlered and 213 antlerless. These totals include:

  • Archery: 157 deer (99 antlered, 58 antlerless)
  • Crossbow: 378 deer (242 antlered, 136 antlerless)
  • Youth Deer Hunt (Oct. 7-8): 31 deer (12 antlered, 19 antlerless)

Harvest figures for the opening weekend of the traditional nine-day deer season were not available on Monday.

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.

Fishing Report

It is quite possible that for all practical (and reasonable) purposes, open water fishing season could end this week, as nighttime lows drop to teens and low double-digits and highs hit the 20s. There will be some sunshine and expect windy conditions, but at this time no precipitation in any form, if you get the drift… oops ‑ poor choice of term!

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


Musky fishing is good to very good and this will continue until ice-up. Late fall is the time for big muskies and anglers are boating some very nice fish. Concentrate on shallow weeds and weedlines that hold panfish and baitfish, and on breaklines leading to deep water. Suckers are the way to go, but anglers are also catching fish on big cast and trolled artificials, as well as vertical jigging. Musky season closes December 31.


Walleye anglers still fishing are doing well as the fish pursue panfish and baitfish that are moving into shallow weeds looking for cover. Late afternoon into evening offers the best fishing, but during the day, work any nearby deeper water. Walleye suckers and fatheads on jigs or under slip bobbers are catching fish, but do not overlook crankbaits and stickbaits.

Northern Pike:

Northern pike fishing is good to very good. Look for fish on shallow to extremely shallow weed edges that offer deep water nearby. Northern suckers, walleye suckers, fatheads, and crappie minnows will all catch pike, and large jerkbaits and spoons can do the trick, too. Use bigger baits for trophy pike.


Crappie fishing is good to very good as fish start moving toward shallow weedlines and weed edges in 4-12 feet, but near deep water. However, some fish are still in deep basins and on deep weed edges. Crappie minnows, plastics, and Gulp! baits on small jigs or plain hooks under slip bobbers work well, as do small spoons, Beetle Spins, and crankbaits.


Bluegill and perch fishing is fair to good in and around shallow weeds, weedlines, wood, brush, and cribs. Waxies, spikes, minnows, plastics, and Gulp! baits on small jigs, teardrops, and plain hooks fished with or without slip bobbers are doing the job.

Upcoming Events

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. 29: DNR public meeting on Lake Superior fishery management, Ashland, Public Library, 6 p.m. (715-331-9036).

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.

Dec. 31: Musky season closes.

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.