Hayward Lakes Outdoor Report 5-16-23

Steve Suman

This week’s forecast predicts beautiful weather through Wednesday night, rain showers are possible through Friday night, and then back to sunshine and blue skies through Monday. Enjoy the week however you spend it!

“Great weather appears on tap for the Quiet Lakes’ this week,” says Greg at Happy Hooker. “The temperatures should be in the high 60s to low 70s, with the only rain chances on Thursday and Friday.

“Walleye action, hot the first week of the season, leveled off with fish post-spawn. Anglers still report action with fatheads on jigs and small crankbaits such as #5-7 Rapala Shad Raps. Work shallow breaklines with sandy shorelines out to 10 feet. Shallow shoreline fishing can be good during dusk and low light conditions, as fish move to the warmest water.

“Largemouth bass are now moving into shallow bays and spawning areas. Drop shot rigs, wacky worms, and crawlers on plain hooks under bobbers are all great ways to catch these fish.

“Smallmouth bass fishing is catch-and-release until June 17. The bass are with walleyes along points, shallow breaklines, and rocky ledges dropping into deeper water. Minnows, plastics, and tubes on jigs, Jigging Raps, and crankbaits all make bottom contact and work well.

“Crappie fishing is really picking up as the fish move shallower for spawning. Flowage and river system lakes currently offer a better bite because water temperatures are warmer. Look for early emerging weed beds in 5-10 feet. Some anglers do well with small crankbaits or jigs with plastics such as Mimic Minnows, Beetle Spins, etc. Years ago, my dad schooled me with a spring bobber, split shot, #6 Aberdeen hook, and crappie minnow. Most fish will not pass up live bait swimming in front of them!

“The woods are active as turkey season continues through May 30, though hunters coming into the shop say the birds have been quiet. My season starts Wednesday and I will make an effort to fill my tag over the next week!”

Jarrett at Hayward Bait says that even without the sun, the warmth continues to increase water temperatures into the low- to mid-60s on many waterbodies, bringing many species shallow to feed and prep for spawning.

“Walleyes are coming off spawn and spending time near shoreline areas where they spawned. Look for windswept shorelines, preferably with rock, and start pitching in all adjacent areas. Jigs and minnows, and baits such as Husky Jerks, are working well. Low light periods are traditionally best for targeting the fish, so look for them in shallow water right around sunset.

“Northern pike, just like other species, are in the shallow, muddy bays that warm most quickly. Look for them to sit in super shallow water, closely hugging bottom, soaking up the sun. With pike in shallow water, live bait, large flies, jerkbaits, and spinnerbaits are all producing.

“Bass reports are very limited, but a few tournaments are set to go this weekend, so more on bass next week!

“Crappies are between stages on different lakes. Some lake temperatures are not yet up to ideal levels for fish to move shallow and they are staging in 4-10 feet. On other lakes, some back bays are already nearly 70 degrees, the ideal stage for crappies to start spawning. Minnows and plastics on small jigs are putting some nice fish in the livewells.

“Bluegills are joining most other fish in the shallows and waxies, red worms, and crawlers on jigs under bobbers are catching a lot of bluegills.”

Mike at Jenk’s says the Chippewa Flowage is at full pool, with main lake water temperatures in the 50s and bays in the low- to mid-60s.

“Walleye fishing seems to be okay, but reports vary. Some anglers are fishing in shallow rocks in 2-3 feet, while others report success on sand humps in 8-16 feet. Minnows are definitely the live bait of choice, followed by leeches. You should also throw some crankbaits, and Rapala X-Raps and Berkley Flicker Shads are popular.

“Northern pike action is quiet, mainly because not too many people are targeting them yet. Your best bet for pike this time of year is live bait, and suckers and chubs in west side bays are a recipe for success.

“Smallmouth bass are not yet in season, but many walleye anglers fishing minnows and leeches are making incidental catches of big ones!

“Crappies are starting to stage, according to initial reports, with some males already in the bays waiting for the females to arrive. Minnows are always the bait of choice, but when the fish start spawning, try tossing some Voodoo Jigs in the bays. The glass bead jigs from Voodoo have a very slow fall and great flutter.”

This week, DNR fisheries biologist Max Wolter discusses Chippewa Flowage fish harvest by the pound.

“The Chippewa Flowage is one of the premiere fisheries in the Upper Midwest. The Chip supports a well-known catch-and-release musky fishery, with most other species valued for harvest.

“A creel survey conducted in 2022 provided data for estimating how many fish anglers harvested during the open water angling season. With some extrapolation, we can convert those figures to pounds of fish harvested for each major species.

“We estimated bluegill was the most harvested species by number, 87,669, which is an estimated 27,283 pounds. Anglers harvest an estimated 58,142 black crappie, which equates to 27,258 harvested pounds. The estimated harvest of 1,877 pounds of yellow perch brings the total for panfish to about 56,000 pounds.

“An estimated harvest of 5,766 walleye equates to 8,457 pounds. We estimated anglers harvested 6,893 northern pike, or 14,614 pounds. A relatively small number of largemouth bass were harvested (1,736), which is an estimated 1,847 pounds. We estimated no muskellunge harvested, and the harvests of smallmouth bass and pumpkinseed were rare enough that we excluded them from this exercise.

“The total poundage of harvested panfish, walleye, largemouth bass, and pike was 81,337. That might seem like a ton of fish (or 40 tons, technically), but in a massive waterbody such as the Chippewa Flowage, it comes out to slightly more than 5 pounds per surface acre of water. That is well within the production capacity of a moderately productive waterbody.”

The 2023 Wisconsin Canoe Heritage Museum Heritage Day Celebration in Spooner is Saturday, May 27, from 10 a.m.-4 p.m., during Memorial Day Weekend. This free event marks the season opening of the museum and includes an open house in the museum exhibit hall, canoe workshop activities, the Canoe & Wooden Boat Show, and more. For more information, visit the website or call (715) 635-2479.

The Hayward Chapter-Fishing Has No Boundaries will host its 36th Annual event May 19-20, at the Lake Chippewa Campground on the Chippewa Flowage. Hundreds of volunteers gather to assist 120-150 anglers with various disabilities to enjoy this unique fishing experience. The two-day event offers evening meals, adaptive equipment, and more, to ensure everyone has a wonderful time. There is still time to volunteer your time or watercraft. Contact the chapter office for more information. For information, visit Hayward Chapter-Fishing Has No Boundaries or call (715) 634-3185.

The DNR is asking the public to avoid burning due to critical fire danger across northern Wisconsin. The sandy pines areas of northern Wisconsin are always the slowest to green up and tree growth is at a volatile stage. Areas with VERY HIGH fire danger today (Monday) include Sawyer, Washburn, Douglas, Ashland, Bayfield, and Price counties, among others, with Rusk County a HIGH fire danger area. To check current fire danger, wildfire reports, and burning restrictions, visit https://apps.dnr.wi.gov/wisburn.

Fishing Report

The first week of the general inland fishing season was a good one, walleye fishing in particular. As walleyes recover from spawning, other species are moving toward their shallow spawning areas. The water is warming quickly and panfish fishing could go hot almost overnight.

Musky anglers should note that musky season in the Northern Musky Zone opens May 27. Smallmouth bass harvest season in the Northern Bass Zone opens June 17, but is catch-and-release until that date.


Walleye fishing is good to very good for (mostly) post-spawn fish. Find them near their spawning areas on shallow breaklines and rock and sand shorelines in depths to 10 feet. Very early morning and late afternoon low light periods are best, particularly in very shallow water. Fatheads on jigs, medium size Shad Raps, and Husky Jerks are all productive.

Northern Pike:

Northern pike fishing is fair to good. Fish are near bottom in very shallow, fast warming bays, sunning themselves. Sucker minnows, spinnerbaits, jerkbaits, stickbaits, and big flies can all grab their attention.

Largemouth Bass:

Largemouth bass fishing is fair to good as fish move toward shallow bays and spawning areas. Baits of choice include crawlers on plain hooks fished under bobbers, jigs and minnows, wacky worms, and drop-shot rigs.

Smallmouth Bass:

Smallmouth bass fishing is fair to good, but catch-and-release only until June 17 in the Northern Bass Zone. They are on the bottom and in with the walleyes on shallow breaklines, points, and rock ledges adjacent to deep water. Plastics, tubes, minnows on jigs, Jigging Raps, and crankbaits all work well.


Crappie fishing is good to very good and improving as fish move shallow for spawning. Focus on 3-10 feet around new weed beds and in warm bays. Crappie minnows, plastics, and Gulp! baits on small jigs, teardrops, and plain hooks under slip bobbers are producing, or try small Beetle Spins, Mimic Minnows, Voodoo bead head jigs, and crankbaits.

Bluegill: Bluegill fishing is good in the shallow for anglers pursuing them. Waxies, red worms, and crawlers fished on small jigs and teardrops, under bobbers, are working well. Try small minnows to target larger bluegills and avoid bait robbers.

Upcoming Events

May 19-20: FHNB event at the Lake Chippewa Campground on the Chippewa Flowage (715-634-3185).

May 27: Musky season opens in the Northern Musky Zone.

May 27: Wisconsin Canoe Heritage Museum Heritage Day Celebration, Spooner (715-635-2479).

May 29: Memorial Day memorializing the veterans who made the ultimate sacrifice for this country.

May 31: Application deadline for 2023 elk season tag.

June 3: Full Strawberry Moon.

June 3-4: Free Fishing Weekend.

June 3: Kids Fishing Derby, Lake Hayward Park, 8 a.m.-Noon (405-227-1789).

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

June 17: Smallmouth bass harvest season opens in Northern Bass Zone.

June 17: Chequamegon 100 (715-798-3599).

June 23-25: Musky Fest (715-634-8662).

June 23-25: Musky Fest FHNB Fishing Contest (715-634-3185).

June 23-24: DNR Learn to Fish at Shues Pond.

June 25: Hayward Bass Club Round Lakes Open, 8 a.m.-4 p.m. (405-227-1789).

Spring Turkey Season Dates

Spring turkey season is six seven-day periods, Wednesday through the following Tuesday, in the seven zones open for hunting in 2023. Season dates are as follows:

Period D: May 10-16

Period E: May 17-23

Period F: May 24-30

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.