Hayward Lakes Outdoor Report 5-23-23

Steve Suman

Aside from a few “slight” chances for showers, the forecast for this week indicates considerable sunshine and mostly mild temperatures leading into the weekend. Memorial Day, Monday, May 29, memorializes the veterans who made the ultimate sacrifice for this country. Please take time to remember and honor these veterans while you are enjoying the sun, fun, and various activities during this long weekend.

“The Quiet Lakes’ area is now seeing warmer temperatures and very little precipitation,” says Greg at Happy Hooker, “and Friday we had perfect weather for Fishing Has No Boundaries on the Chippewa Flowage.

“Walleye fishing slowed since the opener and fish are moving somewhat deeper, with reports of fish around structure and points in 10-15 feet. A few anglers find minnows and crawler chunks on jigs productive, with crankbaits trolled in those depths working as well.

“Northern pike are in the shallows, chasing and eating panfish concentrated for spawning. Spinnerbaits and shallow diving crankbaits can be fantastic this time of year, though many anglers are catching pike on the jigs, hooks, and bobber set-ups used for panfish.

“Largemouth bass are in some smaller shallow bays, likely feeding on minnows and other small baitfish. Most bass are hitting good size crawler chunks on bigger plain hooks, sinkers, and bobbers.

“Smallmouth bass are catchable now, relating to deeper water on and around the same areas as walleye. Look for them on rocky points and sandy, rocky shorelines that head into deeper water. Jigs, crankbaits, and drop-shot rigs can all produce at this time.

“Crappie anglers are finding fish in calm water in shallow bays, so fish are definitely getting ready to spawn. Anglers are taking them with crappie minnows and fatheads on small jigs or hooks fished under bobbers.

“Bluegill and perch are in 4-8 feet preparing to spawn. Fish are aggressive, most hitting simple minnow, hook, and bobber set-ups, and the bite is good!”

Jarrett at Hayward Bait says walleyes are still shallow, with some in bigger, cooler waterbodies just finishing spawn.

“Look for shorelines with new weed growth, gravel, and/or structure where the recovering fish might hold. Walleye suckers and fatheads on jigs are working well, with slip bobbers and jerkbaits solid options.

Northern pike are also still shallow, and as the water warms, the fish will become more active. Look towards the back of shallow, muddy bays for fish sunning themselves and pitch spinnerbaits, spoons, or live bait their way.

“Largemouth and smallmouth bass have started moving into shallow bays, forming small schools while waiting for water temperatures to warm enough for spawning. Chatterbaits, spinnerbaits, plastics, and live baits are all working well.

“Crappies have just started moving into spawning areas. Work small jigs and bobbers around pencil reeds and downed timber along shorelines. Park a ways off the structure so your boat wake does not spook the fish.

“Bluegills are roaming shallow bays, eating and staging for spawning. We will not look for spawning bluegills until water temperatures reach about 70 degrees, but until then, plenty of fish will be shallow. Small jigs, Bimbo Skunk baits, and Gulp! Minnows work fantastic for shallow bluegills.”

Mike at Jenk’s says the Chippewa Flowage pool is at full level, with the water temperature in the low to mid-60s.

“Walleyes were hitting minnows and leeches in 2-3 feet last week, with the best spots near reeds along shorelines.

“Northern pike are not in their typical spots right now because there are not many weeds yet, but if you can find weeds, the pike are hiding there. Use big live bait, such as large northern suckers and chubs.

“Crappies are spawning in the shallows, and Sibley Bay and Moss Creek are good places to start. Minnows are always the top bait choice, though other baits, such as Voodoo Marabou and Bugger jigs, work well, too.

“Bluegills are also spawning in the shallows. Waxies and leaf worms are the go-to baits, and as with the crappie, Voodoo Marabous and Bugger jigs should not disappoint.”

This week, DNR fisheries biologist Max Wolter discusses Hayward fishing guides stepping up big in 2023.

“There is a large community of people in the Hayward area who care about fishing, chief among them are our excellent fishing guides. These men and women have deep connections to our area resources and jump at the chance to give back. Recent efforts of several area guides are worth highlighting individually.

“Jeff Evans is coordinating a large fundraising effort in memory of fellow guide Terry Peterson. Jeff has done fantastic work building excitement and support for the Terry Peterson Fishing Foundation, which will support local fisheries projects starting this year.

“A group of guides has helped us complete some challenging surveys on Teal and Lost Land lakes. Stu Neville and Levi Meetz from Hayward Fly Fishing Company, and guides John and Brenda Maier, all offered their services during netting and electrofishing portions of our survey. Some of the Hayward Fly Fishing guides also assisted with our semi-annual ‘sturgeon rodeo’ on the Chippewa River. Look for more on that rodeo in the future.

“We have also reinvigorated our angler assisted musky tag collection program, with guides such as Steve Genson and Erik Thue leading the way. This program has been critical in supplementing our data collection on this important Hayward area species.

“There are many great opportunities for partnership to improve our fisheries, and we are fortunate to have guides as a big part of the management picture.”

The DNR will accept applications for the 2023 elk hunting season through the May 31 deadline. Only Wisconsin residents are eligible, and Wisconsin residents can draw only one tag in their lifetime. The application fee is $10, and the DNR will contact drawing winners by early June. For each application, $7 goes directly to elk management, monitoring, and research in Wisconsin. The DNR uses these funds to enhance elk habitat, which benefits the elk and other Wisconsin wildlife. For drawing winners, the cost of an elk hunting license is $49. The 2023 hunting season is in the northern elk management zone Oct. 14-Nov. 12, and Dec. 14-22, and tag holders can hunt during either period. Successful applicants must attend a mandatory elk hunter orientation and purchase an elk hunting license prior to issuance of their license and tag. For more information, search “elk hunting” on the DNR website.

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 14th annual Canoe & Wooden Boat Show, and more. The museum expects more than 25 exhibitors to display wooden boats of all shapes, sizes, and designs, both classic and modern, as well as all kinds of classic and vintage water and paddling related items.

The outdoor beer garden will feature food, beverages, and live music on the “back porch” stage.

The event will again include an auction of various recently donated items. The silent auction offers attendees some unique items you will not find anywhere else, while supporting museum fundraising efforts.

For information, visit www.wisconsincanoeheritagemuseum.org or call (715) 635-2479.

Fishing Report

Fishing for nearly all species is good to very good, with crappie and bluegill action really starting to heat up with the spawning season. Walleye fishing is still good, pike are always eating, and bass, both largemouth and smallmouth are starting to show increased activity, with spawning at the top of their top agenda.

Musky season in the Northern Musky Zone opens May 27.

Quick reminder that smallmouth bass harvest season in the Northern Bass Zone does not open until June 17, but it is legal to target them for catch-and-release fishing until that time.


Walleye fishing slowed a bit, but it is still good to very good, and fish in the deep, clear lakes are starting to recover from their spawning efforts. In other lakes, they have started to disperse and move to deeper water. Look for fish from very shallow out to 17 feet or so, on shorelines with gravel, new weeds, and reeds. Top producing baits include walleye suckers, fatheads, leeches, and crawlers on jigs and/or slip bobber rigs, jerkbaits, and trolled stickbaits and crankbaits.

Northern Pike:

Northern pike action is good in and around shallow weeds, muddy back bays, and concentrations of panfish and baitfish. Northern suckers, jigs and minnows, chubs, crankbaits, spinners, spinnerbaits, and spoons are all working well.

Largemouth Bass:

Largemouth bass fishing is fair to good as the bass start moving toward shallow bays to spawn. Live bait, plastics, spinners, spinnerbaits, and chatterbaits can all entice largemouth at this time.

Smallmouth Bass:

Smallmouth bass fishing is fair to good as they begin their spawning move to shallow bays. For now, look for them on mid-depth to shallow rock and sand points and shorelines. Live bait, plastics, jigs, crankbaits, chatterbaits, spinnerbaits, and drop-shot rigs are all productive. Remember that smallmouth bass harvest season in the Northern Bass Zone does not open until June 17 and fishing is catch-and-release only until that time.


Crappie fishing is very good to excellent for fish preparing for or starting to spawn. Find them in shallow bays and around weeds, reeds, and fallen timber along shorelines. Cast into those areas from a distance. Baits of choice include crappie minnows, fatheads, plastics, and Gulp! Minnows on jigs and plain hooks, fished with/without bobbers.


Bluegill fishing is very good to excellent, with fish moving toward the shallows, 3-5 feet, for spawning when water temperatures reach the necessary level. Waxies, worms, leaf worms, and small minnows on small jigs and plain hooks, Bimbo Skunk baits, and Gulp! baits are all great offerings.

Upcoming Events

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 21: Summer Solstice (first day of summer).

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 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.