Hayward Lakes Outdoor Report 5-21-24

Steve Suman

Many chances for rain throughout the week in the forecast, but most are less than 50 percent and with high temperatures in the 60s to 70s. We could have excellent weather for the holiday weekend.

Take time this Memorial Day to remember those who gave all they had then‑ their lives ‑ so that you could have all you have today.

“Rain early this week looks to hamper outdoor activities in the Quiet Lakes’ area,” says Greg at Happy Hooker, “with rain chances at 60-90 percent.

“Musky season opens Saturday, but anglers fishing smaller baits on shallow weed beds and flats for other species report inadvertent catches.

“Walleye fishing is a little tougher, with anglers finding fish somewhat deep, relative to the lake, and near structure adjacent to basins. Look for deep points, mid-lake structure near deep water, and deep weed edges in bays. Walleye suckers and leeches work well, as do deeper running crankbaits.

“Northern pike are around shallow weeds and hitting just about everything, from crawlers to walleye and northern suckers to smaller Rapalas and Beetle Spins.

“Largemouth bass action tapered off a bit, and a few anglers report seeing them on beds. Drop shot and wacky rigged worms are a great way to target them. Find some beds, drop your bait in front of them, and you will likely get a strike.

“Smallmouth bass reports are scarce, and anglers fishing for other species are not reporting catching them. They should be near deeper structure with rock to sand transitions.

“Crappie, bluegill, and perch are hungry and anglers are doing well on all species. Look for fish in 2-6 feet and start with live bait. Crawlers and crappie minnows are hot, with small Beetle Spins, Mimic Minnows, Rapalas, and Gulp! Minnows all excellent options.”

Jarrett at Hayward Bait says walleye fishing remains steady, with anglers catching fish in 8-15 feet.

“Anglers are catching them during daylight with fatheads and extra-large leeches on slip bobbers, switching to jerkbaits and crankbaits in the evening. They will soon move to and sit on the first weedlines until the water warms to summer temperatures.

“Northern pike action is very good, with pike near schools of crappie and bluegill. Spinners, jerkbaits, swimbaits, walleye suckers, and fatheads are putting pike in the livewell. Check the new pike regulations that encourage harvest. Pike are excellent eating and great for cooking over a lakeside campfire!

“Largemouth and smallmouth bass are in 6-12 feet and offer great bites on jerkbaits such as Rapala BX Minnows and Rapala Husky Jerks. Some big fish are coming from clear waterbodies as they make their way in to prepare for spawn.

“Crappies are somewhere between spawning and have spawned on various waters. Look for pencil reeds or standing vegetation near shorelines that extend into the water, often as shallow as one foot. Fish will remain shallow and easy to target until they move to main lake weeds.

“Bluegills are moving shallow and will remain there for another couple weeks. They are visible near shorelines in clear water, or watch for topwater dimples as they feed on bugs. Fatheads, crappie minnows, waxies, and leaf worms are great; plastics work well once you find fish.”

Mike at Jenk’s says the Chippewa Flowage pool is down one foot, with the water temperature mid to high 50s.

“Walleye fishing is good, but you have to work to locate them. Find them in bigger groups in 8-15 feet near weed edges and snags, then maximize your electronics and stay on them. Hot baits include minnows, jumbo leeches, Flicker Shads, and Google Eye search baits with Kalin’s Tickle Shads.

“Northern pike fishing is good, but a little tougher. Live bait is the top choice, but Shimano’s World Rush and similar crankbaits are producing many fish. Work shallow weed beds, as the pike will follow bluegills going in to spawn.

“Largemouth bass are super active, particularly in the back bays of Crane Lake. Large minnows, spinnerbaits, and shallow crankbaits are all producing fish.

“Crappies are just finishing spawn and will likely be done in a few days. Fishing will then be tougher until they move to the bogs and summer spots. Voodoo Jigs, Bobby Garland Mayflies, and Gulp! Minnows are on fire for shallow fish.”

This week, DNR fisheries biologist Max Wolter discusses the Chippewa Flowage’s fishery stability.

“The DNR Hayward Fish Team conducted a brief netting survey on the east side of the Chippewa Flowage in spring of 2024. The purpose of this survey was to gather some quick data to check on the status of black crappie, northern pike, and walleye, though survey timing was better for crappie than other species. We are able to compare this year’s results to past surveys to determine how the fishery has changed over time.

“When comparing our 2024 results to a similar netting effort on the east side of the Flowage in 2018, black crappie have been very stable during 2018-2024. The abundance of crappie in each survey was very similar, with 28 per net in 2018 and 26 per net in 2024. Size improved slightly, with 22 percent of crappie in 2024 greater than 10 inches, compared to 15 percent in 2018.

“Northern pike size has remained stubbornly low in the Flowage, despite efforts in recent years to create larger pike. Just 2 percent of pike were greater than 28 inches in 2018, and a nearly identical 3 percent hit that mark in 2024. Walleye size demonstrated some slight improvements. In 2018, 27 percent of walleye on the east side survey were greater than 15 inches, and by 2024 that figure had climbed to 37 percent.

“This combination of results tells us a handful of things. First, fisheries can have fairly ‘fixed’ characteristics, even when we are actively trying to manipulate those characteristics with different management actions. Pike size is a great example of that phenomenon. The Chippewa Flowage does not grow large pike easily or commonly compared to other lakes in the area. As a result, the status quo is abundant and small pike, which we have struggled to change.

“In other cases, changes might happen on a longer time scale than anglers would prefer, with a good example the slow but steady improvements in walleye size.”

Spring season turkey hunters continue to enjoy success statewide, with current harvest totals (as of May 14) at 39,867 birds. Bonus tags remain available for periods E and F in zones 1 and 3, with the season open through May 28.

Local events this Saturday, May 25, include musky season opening in the Northern Musky Zone; Wisconsin Canoe Heritage Day at the Wisconsin Canoe Heritage Museum in Spooner (715-635-2479); and Callahan Lake Resort’s (715-462-3244) Northern Pike Challenge.


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.

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

Fishing Report

Fishing action remains good to very good, especially for panfish. Review new regulation changes, particularly for panfish and northern pike, in effect for some Sawyer County waters. Smallmouth bass fishing in the Northern Bass Zone is catch-and-release only until June 15.

Trout anglers should visit an updated DNR website that shows the location of available opportunities for stocked trout ‑ search “catchable size trout stocking” on the DNR website. Trout anglers need an inland trout stamp, even if not planning to harvest.

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


Walleye fishing is slower, but good if you can locate and can stay with them. During the day, find deeper points, weed edges, weedlines, and structure in 8-18 feet. Go shallow during early morning and late evening into dark. Walleye suckers, fatheads, leeches, crankbaits, jerkbaits, Flicker Shads, and similar baits are all working well.

Northern Pike:

Northern pike fishing is very good to excellent around shallow weeds, weedlines, and near concentrations of panfish and baitfish. Northern suckers, walleye suckers, fatheads, spinners, spinnerbaits, spoons, crankbaits, jerkbaits, swimbaits, Rapalas, Beetle Spins, and nearly anything else are all taking pike! Check regulation changes for pike in Sawyer County.

Largemouth Bass:

Largemouth bass action is good to very good as the fish are moving shallow for pre-spawn, with some anglers already observing a few on beds. Find the fish in depths to 12 feet along shorelines and in back bays. Baits of choice include sucker minnows, crawlers, wacky and drop shot rigged worms, spinnerbaits, jerkbaits, minnowbaits, and crankbaits.

Smallmouth Bass:

Smallmouth bass fishing is good to very good. Find fish in depths from very shallow to about 12 feet, on rock to sand transitions. Sucker minnows, swimbaits, jerkbaits, crankbaits, tubes, and plastics are all effective for these fish. Smallmouth bass fishing in the Northern Bass Zone is catch-and-release only until June 15.


Crappie fishing is very good to excellent, with fish in various stages of spawning, from pre-spawn to post-spawn, depending on the lake. Look for fish very shallow to 6 feet, near shorelines, weeds, and reeds. Best baits include crappie minnows, fatheads, crawlers, Beetle Spins, Mimic Minnows, Garland Mayflies, Rapalas, and Gulp! Minnows.


Bluegill anglers are doing well targeting fish in shallow water as they start moving in to spawn. Top baits include waxies, worms, leaf worms, crawler chunks, and small minnows, and small Beetle Spins, Mimic Minnows, Rapalas, plastics, and Gulp! baits.

Upcoming Events

May 23: Full Flower Moon.

May 25: Musky season opens in the 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. 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 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.