This week looks to be wet and windy, with highs in the upper 30s/low 40s, and nighttime lows in the upper 20s/low 30s. Expect various forms of precipitation, but nothing out of the ordinary. All in due time, of course! Enjoy the outdoors, whatever the weather, but more so now!
“We are in transition time, with few anglers, scattered fish, and everyone anticipating a good first-ice bite. Water temperatures are mid-40s on most lakes, with chilly nights trying to make ice.
“Musky fishing is good and almost exclusively on live bait, with active anglers catching nice fish on all sizes of suckers. Depending on the waterbody, fish are shallow or deep. Fish the edges of remaining green weeds.
“Walleye anglers on the bigger lakes report finding fish in deep holes; other anglers say fish moved from them. Use multiple resources for walleye locations. The bite is tough, with anglers seeing only a few fish, and live bait best.
“Northern pike fishing is quiet. One walleye angler caught a nice pike deep, probably uncommon, but they are opportunistic feeders. Walleye and small musky suckers fished around weedlines, deep points, and mid-lake structure are great for pike.
“Crappies usually move shallow for first ice and they might be transitioning to those areas.
“Bluegill and perch will also be shallow for first ice and jigs and minnows will catch fish.
“The woods are buzzing right now, with many does moving and bucks getting heavy into the rut. I finally saw a nice buck from the stand, and though he was a bit too far for an ethical shot, it was cool to see him!”
Jarrett at Hayward Bait says musky anglers are making the most of their last opportunities to get big fish.
“Most are running multiple sucker rigs while slow-jigging big plastics. Casting big baits gets very difficult as the temperatures cool. Trollers are using big crankbaits such as Mattlocks and Headlocks. Fish will move for baits worth moving. Fish are and will remain relatively shallow until ice-up.
“Walleye fishing is fairly quiet, which will continue until ice-up. Fish are super shallow, often searching for food in shallow as two feet. Shallow weedlines holding crappies, bluegills, and perch fry are perfect. As fish move shallow, stealth is very important. Make long casts to maximize opportunities as we move into ice-up. Live bait near bottom or under floats work well, with jerkbaits effective for aggressive fish.
“Northern pike follow food shallow at this time, and shallow flats and weedlines hold plentiful numbers of baitfish and small gamefish. Suckers on slip bobbers a foot off bottom work well until there is enough ice for tip-ups!
“Crappies are heading to basins to feed on small bugs emerging from muck in 15-35 feet. Others move to shallow weedlines to feed on insects before weeds die. Crappie minnows and grubs on small jigs work well until ice-up, when plastics shine.
“Bluegills move to shallow weed cover for the first part of winter, then to deeper flats and structure such as cribs. Waxies and spikes on small jigs do the trick through ice season!”
This week, DNR fisheries biologist Max Wolter discusses the Musky Bay project on Lake Lac Courte Oreilles.
“Musky Bay of Lake Lac Courte Oreilles (LCO) is one of the most historic musky spawning areas in the world.
“Each spring, presumably for thousands of years, muskellunge have shown up in the back of the bay to spawn near the shoreline along what is now Victory Heights Road. However, while that spawning sustained the population for a long time, we no longer see the same amount of successful muskellunge reproduction in Musky Bay.
“There might be several factors responsible for this concerning shift.
“First, northern pike are now present in Lac Courte Oreilles. Pike are a close relative to the musky and have similar habitat requirements. Pike and musky might compete heavily across many stages of life, with pike often winning out. Additionally, the habitat conditions for muskellunge spawning are not as favorable as they once were.
“In the 1980s, Mike Dombeck documented that the amount of oxygen available to muskellunge eggs on the Musky Bay lakebed was not high enough for good egg survival. Fish eggs need oxygen to hatch and begin development. The culprit for the low dissolved oxygen appeared to be a layer of decaying organic material ‑ known to most as ‘muck’ ‑ covering the firmer substrate on which muskellunge used to spawn.
“A recent project by the DNR, Hayward Lakes Chapter-Muskies Inc., and local shoreline owners is exploring whether restoration of this historic musky spawning grounds might be possible.
“The first step in the project was to use ‘thrusters’ to move a small amount of the organic muck off the spawning grounds, using a barrier of ‘turbidity curtains’ to prevent disturbance to the larger lake ecosystem. Now, after moving the muck, DNR teams will monitor the area to determine if this action increases the amount of oxygen that might be available for musky eggs. We will also examine other factors such as dissolved phosphorus and turbidity.
“This is a unique and challenging project, with information gathering the main objective so we can consider and plan larger steps.”
The DNR is seeking hunters to participate in in this year’s Deer Hunter Wildlife Survey, in which hunters report the animals they observe while deer hunting. Past efforts provided researchers valuable information for managing many wildlife species. The survey period is open through Jan. 7, requires no registration, and hunters can submit observations with a smartphone, computer, or through the mail.
The Sawyer County deer harvest total for this season, as of October 31, is 270 deer, including 126 antlered and 144 antlerless. These totals include:
- Archery: 69 deer (31 antlered, 38 antlerless)
- Crossbow:170 deer (83 antlered, 87 antlerless)
- Youth Deer Hunt (Oct. 7-8): 31 deer (12 antlered, 19 antlerless)
The DNR Deer Donation Program is now accepting hunter donations of any legally harvested deer that will help put food on the table for families in need. Just provide CWD samples (if required), contact a participating processor, and drop off the deer. Processors take care of the animal and make sure it finds its way to a food pantry shelf. If you are not a hunter or are unable to donate a deer, you can still help those in need with a financial contribution to the program.
For more information, visit dnr.wisconsin.gov/topic/hunt/donation.html.
Hayward Lakes Chapter-Muskies Inc. invites the public to its club meeting Tuesday, November 14, at Flat Creek Lodge. Admission is free. This is a general business and planning meeting that begins at 7 p.m. to review the 2023 tournament, discuss projects, and elect officers for 2024. Anyone 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.
Hayward Rod and Gun Club, on County Hwy B three miles east of Hayward, will host its annual rifle site-in days November 11-17, 9 a.m.-4 p.m., at the club’s range. The fee is $6 per firearm. Club members will be on hand to assist with the site-in process. As a fundraiser during rifle site-in days, the club will sell drawing chances for a Savage Axis .270 Win. rifle, scope, sling, and box of ammunition. Tickets cost $10/each or three/$20.
For more information, visit haywardrodandgun.club or call (715) 634-4912.
While open water fishing season is winding down, it is not over quite yet. Conditions are not for everyone, but this is the time to catch big fish. Water temperatures are dropping, so keep safety at the forefront.
Musky fishing is good to very good and anglers have the lakes almost to themselves. Depending on the lake, fish are shallow to deep, holding near green weeds, weed edges, breaklines, and points. Musky suckers on quick-strike rigs are the bait of choice, with jigging big plastics often drawing fish to a live sucker. Trolling anglers report success with big crankbaits such as Mattlocks, Headlocks, and similar baits.
Walleye fishing is fair, but challenging. Fish are scattered from very shallow weeds and weedlines to deep holes, depending on the lake. Look for baitfish and panfish ‑ find their food and you will find the walleyes, but do so quietly. Walleye suckers and fatheads on jigs, drop-shot rigs, or slip bobbers, jerkbaits, and Jigging Raps can all catch fish.
Northern pike action is good, though it slowed a bit. Look for fish on shallow to mid-depth weeds, weedlines, points, flats, mid-lake structure, and near baitfish and panfish concentrations. Large sucker minnows under slip bobbers or on drop-shot rigs, and spinners, spinnerbaits, spoons, minnowbaits, and jerkbaits will all interest pike.
Largemouth bass anglers (bass anglers in general) are either not fishing or keeping their secrets secret. This is a great time of year to target smallmouth on mid-depths to deep hard bottom areas. Walleye suckers, large minnows, and plastics on drop-shot and Ned rigs are effective, as are crankbaits, jerkbaits, and glide baits.
Crappies are scattered from shallow weedlines to deep basins out to 30 feet. Fishing is good to very good once you locate the fish and if you can stay with them. Crappie minnows, waxies, plastics, and Gulp! baits on small jigs or plain hooks fished under slip bobbers are all effective offerings.
Bluegill and perch fishing is good around shallow weeds, but also for fish holding on deeper cribs and flats. Waxies, spikes, worms, minnows, plastics, and Gulp! baits on small jigs and teardrops, fished under slip bobbers work exceptionally well.
Oct. 28: Season opened: Raccoon hunting and trapping (nonresident).
Nov. 11: Veterans Day.
Nov. 11-17: Hayward Rod and Gun Club rifle site-in days, 9 a.m.-4 p.m. $6/gun (715-634-4912).
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. 23: Thanksgiving Day.
Nov. 26: Full Beaver Moon.
Nov. 27-Dec. 6: Muzzleloader deer season.
Nov. 29: Mourning dove 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.