Hayward Lakes Outdoor Report 5-14-24

Steve Suman

Spring temperatures continue to fluctuate, bouncing from 82 degrees Sunday to frost advisories Monday night! High temperatures this week will hold at a very comfortable mid-60s to upper 70s, though windy. Rain chances run from Wednesday into the weekend, with some likely and others… not so much. Enjoy the sunshine!

There is still time to vote for Hayward Musky Fest in the Cenex Hometown Showdown, with $100,000 in prize money. To vote and learn more, visit CenexHometownThrowdown.com. Vote now ‑ the deadline is Wednesday, May 15!

Quiet Lakes’ water levels are mostly good everywhere,” says Greg at Happy Hooker, “with water temperatures in the upper 50s to the low 60s. Some anglers are doing well, while others find a tougher bite.

“Walleye reports are mixed. Some anglers find fish on deep weed edges in 8-12 feet; others find fish in more than 20 feet. One angler caught a 25-inch fish off the dock at dusk on a Rapala. Aside from Rapalas and other small crankbaits, fatheads on jigs are producing. As the water temperatures continue to warm, the leech bite will start to heat up.

“Northern pike fishing is good, with walleye anglers using crank and twitch baits finding hammer-handles around weed beds. Walleye suckers on jigs or under slip bobbers, and spinnerbaits, produce as well.

“Largemouth bass anglers are doing well fishing fatheads on jigs or under bobbers near shorelines or weed beds in 6-10 feet.

“Smallmouth bass reports are scarce and not many walleye anglers report catching them in with walleyes. The fish are likely staging on rocky points and might be slightly deeper with the water temperatures warmer than normal for this time.

“Crappie, bluegill, and perch anglers are finding most panfish in 4-8 feet, in shallow bays with the warmest water. Crappie minnows catch crappies and perch, while crawlers and leaf worms should get some bluegills in the boat.”

Jarrett at Hayward Bait says walleye fishing is spotty at best recently.

“Walleye anglers catch fish on the first break in 6-8 feet during daytime hours, with fish moving shallow during low light periods. Most use leeches and fatheads, but jerkbaits and crankbaits are pulling aggressive fish.

“Northern pike fishing is good, with many fish following panfish into the shallows. Watch for pike ambushing small panfish on shallow structure. Casting over large swirls can usually tempt pike that were unsuccessful on bluegill hunts. Weedless spoons, spinnerbaits, swimbaits, and walleye and northern suckers are performing well.

“Largemouth and smallmouth bass continue to move onto shallow weed and rock flats. Shallow running spinnerbaits, chatterbaits, topwaters, and even live bait are pulling fish from shoreline cover and shallow flats.

“Crappies, at least some, are already gearing up to spawn with water temperatures on different waterbodies peaking between the mid-50s to mid-60s. In shallow bays where the water has warmed the most, fish could be as shallow as 1 foot. Lightweight bobbers with fatheads tossed onto shore to avoid spooking fish are working very well.

“Bluegills are nowhere near spawning yet, but they are moving shallow to feed. Shallow weed flats, timber, and any shoreline structure, such as docks, will harbor fish. Waxies or leaf worms on small jigs, fished under small bobbers, again, to not spook shallow fish, are producing.”

This week, DNR fisheries biologist Max Wolter discusses observations on the 2024 spring fisheries surveys.

“Our spring surveys of fisheries in the Hayward area started March 4, earlier than ever before, with nets going in Lac Courte Oreilles’ Musky Bay. As expected, fish did not spawn immediately just because the ice had gone out.

“Early on, our team was able to capture pike, crappie, and a few muskies. These fish were all moving shallow to take advantage of the warmer water. Very few were releasing eggs, even the pike, which are the earliest spawners in our lakes.

“Water temperature proceeded to fluctuate, as periods of cold weather returned and some lakes even refroze.

“Spawning activity for walleye finally started to ramp up in April. In Barber Lake, walleye were actively spawning during the week of April 8. Walleyes in some of our large, deep lakes such as Lac Courte Oreilles and Grindstone experienced a very drawn-out spawn. In Grindstone, males moved shallow, but females did not immediately follow them.

“In mid-April, we captured both males and females in Lac Courte Oreilles, but few females were releasing eggs and fish were reluctant to go into full spawning mode.

“Oddly, we captured muskellunge throughout April, including many ripe females that were releasing eggs, though water temperatures were not yet in the ‘typical’ range for musky spawning. Oddities in spawning behavior and timing can sometimes have impacts on spawning success ‑ the survival of eggs and fry.

“Our team will conduct surveys in fall of 2024 to assess spawning success on these lakes and many others.”

Spring is baby animal season in Wisconsin. If you encounter a fawn while outdoors, the DNR urges you to not touch it or intervene in any way, as there is a good chance its mother is not far away.

In the first weeks of life, fawns lie quietly in brush or grass until their mothers return to nurse them. This can be at any time of day, as white-tailed deer are more active at dawn and dusk. It is rare an unaccompanied fawn is abandoned.

If you find a fawn lying still and quiet, leave it alone. Do not return to the spot, touch the fawn, or bring children, friends, or pets to look at it. The doe will not return to nurse its fawn while there are people or pets nearby.

For more information, search “keep wildlife wild” on the DNR website.

Spring season turkey hunters continue to do well statewide, with current harvest (as of May 7) at 32,417 birds. Remaining bonus tags are available for periods E and F in zones 1 and 3, and for Period F in Zone 4.

Hayward Chapter-Fishing Has No Boundaries will host its 37th Annual event May 17-18, at Lake Chippewa Campground on the Chippewa Flowage. During the two-day event, hundreds of volunteers assist 120-150 anglers with disabilities to enjoy this fishing experience. Individuals and business owners donate all watercraft used for the event.

For more information, or to volunteer your time or watercraft, visit Hayward Chapter-Fishing Has No Boundaries, or call (715) 634-3185.


All ATV and UTV operators born on or after Jan. 1, 1988, who are at least 12 years old for ATV and at least 16 years old for UTV, must complete an ATV and UTV safety certification course to operate legally on public ATV/UTV trails and areas in Wisconsin.

The DNR requires trail passes for non-residents; Wisconsin residents must display their registration sticker. State law requires riders to run headlights at all times when operating. Visit the DNR ATV website to review rules and regulations. Follow the ATV/UTV map, and know the map legend. Check the HLVCB ATV/UTV trail conditions report and Sawyer County Snowmobile & ATV Alliance report for closures.

An ATV safety education class is available June 28-29, in Winter in Sawyer County. The course fee is $10. For more information, and to register, visit gowild.wi.gov, safety education, register, and choose ATV and Sawyer County. Conservation wardens recommend all ATV/UTV operators complete a safety course.

Fishing Report

Fishing is good to very good for most species. Make sure to review the new regulation changes for panfish, pike, and other species now in effect for some Sawyer County waters.

Musky season opens May 25 in the Northern Musky Zone. Smallmouth bass fishing in the Northern Bass Zone is catch-and-release only until June 15.

The DNR’s 2024 Wisconsin Fishing Report, available online, provides the fishing outlook for various species, gear and tackle tips, and information on fisheries projects.


Walleye fishing slowed, but anglers continue to catch fish. Look in 4-20 feet and deeper on weedlines, weed edges, and breaklines; look shallower during early morning and late evening into dark. Walleye suckers, fatheads, and leeches on jigs and/or under slip bobbers, stickbaits, crankbaits, jerkbaits, Husky Jerks, and Shad Raps all work.

Northern Pike:

Northern pike action is good to very good on weed beds, shallow bays and structure, and near panfish concentrations. Northern and walleye suckers, spinners, spinnerbaits, spoons, stickbaits, swimbaits, and jerkbaits are all catching fish. For trophy pike, go deeper with bigger baits.

Largemouth Bass:

Largemouth bass fishing is fair to good on shallow weeds, weed and rock flats, and shoreline cover in depths to 12 feet. Fatheads and leeches on jigs or under slip bobbers, and spinners, spinnerbaits, chatterbaits, plastics, drop-rigs, and topwaters are all producing action.

Smallmouth Bass:

Smallmouth bass fishing is good, with anglers finding fish in/on shallow weeds, rock flats, points, breaklines, and shoreline cover. Best baits include sucker minnows and shallower running spinners, spinnerbaits, crankbaits, chatterbaits, plastics, and topwaters. In the Northern Bass Zone, smallmouth fishing is catch-and-release only until June 15.


Crappie fishing is good to very good in warmer, shallow bays out to 10 feet. Remember that shallow fish require a stealth approach. Crappie minnows, fatheads, crawlers, waxies, worms, leaf worms, plastics, and Gulp! baits on small jigs, teardrops, and plain hooks fished with/without small bobbers are the go-to baits.


Bluegill and perch are moving to warmest water they can find in shallow bays and on weedlines, weed flats, timber, and other cover and structure in 2-10 feet. Waxies, worms, leaf worms, small minnows, plastics, and Gulp! baits on small jigs and plain hooks are working well and fishing is good.

Upcoming Events

May 17-18: Hayward Chapter-Fishing Has No Boundaries eventLake Chippewa Campground (715-634-3185).

May 17-19: Musky Tale ResortNorthern Encounter fishing tournament (715-462-3838).

May 23: Full Flower Moon.

May 25: Musky season opens in Northern Musky Zone.

May 25: Wisconsin Canoe Heritage DayWisconsin Canoe Heritage Museum in Spooner (715-635-2479).

May 25: Callahan Lake Resort Northern Pike Challenge, 8 a.m.-6 p.m. (715-462-3244).

May 27: Memorial Day memorializing the veterans who made the ultimate sacrifice for this country.

May 31: Application deadline for 2024 elk season tag.

June 1-2: Free Fishing Weekend.

June 1: Kids Fishing Derby at Lake Hayward Park (youth 1-15 years old), 8 a.m.-noon (405-227-1789).

June 4: Hayward Lakes Chapter-Muskies Inc. business meeting 6:30 p.m.; general meeting 7 p.m., Flat Creek Lodge (715-634-4543).

June 15: Smallmouth bass harvest season opens in Northern Bass Zone.

June 20: Summer Solstice.

June 21: Full Strawberry Moon.

June 21-23: 74th Annual Musky Fest (715-634-8662).

June 21-22: Hayward Bass Club/Hayward Lakes Chapter-Muskies Inc.Musky Fest fishing contest (405-227-1789).

June 23: Hayward Bass Club – Round Lake Open, 8 a.m.-4 .pm., (405-227-1789).

Spring Turkey Season Dates

Spring turkey season is six, seven-day periods running Wednesday through the following Tuesday, in seven zones.

Period D: May 8-14

Period E: May 15-21

Period F: May 22-28

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.