Following a cooling (cold!) trend, temperatures will turn warmer this week, though wet Wednesday and Thursday. The forecast indicates sunshine and 74 degrees Friday, then showers possible through the Memorial Day weekend, with highs in the mid to upper 70s. Please take a moment Monday to reflect on those who sacrificed their lives for this country.
“On the Quiet Lakes, cooler temperatures last week slowed the bite just a bit,” says Greg at Happy Hooker, “but it should turn on again as temperatures climb into the 70s. Shallow, weedy bays are the ticket for catching all species, and the crappie spawn is getting close.
“Walleyes are shallow, in and near weedy bays, with fatheads on jigs the go-to approach. Start shallow and work through the weeds to the deep edges.
“Northern pike are in and around the weeds, hitting walleye suckers under floats. Spinnerbaits and crankbaits work well for aggressive pike that are preying on baitfish.
“Largemouth bass fishing is solid, with many walleye anglers reporting bass catches while jigging and using fatheads under floats.
“Smallmouth bass are on deep points, transitions, and rock and sand humps. Fatheads, other live bait, tubes, and plastics are all working well.
“Crappie fishing is hot in shallow weeds. Crappie minnows, Tattle-Tails, and small plastic grubs on bare hooks, and small jigs under floats, are all catching limits of fish. Pink, white, and chartreuse colors are all good.
“Bluegills are hitting crawlers and leaf worms fished off the docks. Focus on shallow, sandy shorelines where the fish are starting to make beds.”
“Perch are mixing in with the crappies in shallow weeds and with the bluegills off docks. Perch are notorious for stealing crappie minnows off hooks before anglers can lift their rods. If you are losing minnows to perch, change to small plastics that can last through many fish, or upsize your baits to deter smaller fish from stealing them.”
Jarrett at Hayward Bait says fishing is picking up after the full moon, but colder temperatures and water temperatures in the high 50s to low 60s might damper fishing for a few days.
“Walleye fishing is good, fish in most lakes should have finished spawning, and many are still shallow, feeding on small baitfish. Look for rocky spawning areas and as shallow as 2 feet during primetime hours. Walleye suckers and fatheads under slip bobbers, jerkbaits, crankbaits, and swimbaits work well. Fish baits slowly now after the spawn and with cooler weather.
“Northern pike are shallow, looking to feed. Dark bottom bays and shallow areas that heat quickly will attract fish. Anglers on clear lakes could have unique sight-fishing opportunities. Live bait, reaction baits, and large hair jigs will do the trick.
“Largemouth bass are in spawning mode, with some fish already tending beds. On most lakes, females come in to find a bed and drop eggs. Males stage out from them, waiting to move in. Creature baits dragged along bottom, Senko worms, and jigs work well, but do not overlook topwaters.
“Smallmouth bass are running shorelines, eating crawfish, small minnows, and anything that might cross their path. To find them, cover lots of water in 5-10 feet with jerkbaits, plastics, and live bait.
“Crappies are shallow, though cold weather might push them deeper for a day or so. The water is not yet at spawning temperatures, but anglers report some fish on beds. Use small jigs, crappie minnows, and fatheads under slip floats.
“Bluegills are shallow and looking for food. There is not much shallow weed growth yet and these fish will move from shallow to deep and back depending on the weather.”
Cathy at Minnow Jim’s says live bait works well on all fish species early in the season.
“Walleye anglers should use minnows and leeches under bobbers, jig feather, hair, or Twister Tail jigs, and slow-troll stickbaits or live bait on Lindy Rigs.
“For northern pike, float a large sucker minnow while fishing for panfish in the shallows.
“For bass, cast frogs and scented worms.
“Panfish in shallow, warmer water are hitting waxies, worms, and minnows on small dressed jigs.”
This week, DNR fisheries biologist Max Wolter discusses good spring fish surveys.
“The DNR’s Hayward Fish Team just concluded a very productive spring netting season. We use netting as the primary survey technique for walleye, pike, crappie, perch, and muskellunge.
“Our survey efforts began on Lake Hayward over Easter weekend, timed well for pike, but then had to wait a few days for the Chippewa Flowage to open.
“We started setting walleye nets in any areas of open water on the Chip, starting around the bridge on CC and the mouth of the West Fork. We captured spawning walleye immediately, and continued to set more nets in new areas as the ice receded. By the time the lake fully opened, seven different crews were running nearly 100 nets as part of the lake-wide walleye population estimate. Look for more on those results in future issues.
“Following the Chip, we set nets on Smith Lake and got a nice survey of the pike and walleye populations. We finished Smith in the midst of the early May heat wave, prompting us to switch to crappie surveys. We netted Windigo and Moose lakes the week after the fishing opener and had very successful crappie surveys.
“If the warm weather had held, we would have moved right into bass surveys, but the cool-down allowed for a week of surveying muskies on Lac Courte Oreilles. We were pleased with our results from that survey, which put a nice cap on a busy, but very productive, netting season.
“Expect to hear more about these individual surveys in coming weeks.”
National Safe Boating Week May 21-27 promotes safe boating all summer long, and BoatUS says boat owners should know about recent U.S. Coast Guard regulation changes. Among others, the changes affect fire extinguisher requirements, engine cut-off switches, and distress signaling devices.
Hunters interested in the 2022 Wisconsin elk hunting season should note the May 31 deadline to apply for the tag drawing. Only Wisconsin residents are eligible (one tag per lifetime), and can purchase the $10 application (one per person) at https://gowild.wi.gov or through a license agent. Of each $10 fee, $7 goes directly for Wisconsin elk research, management, monitoring, and enhancing elk habitat that benefits elk and other wildlife species. Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation (RMEF) will hold a raffle ($10/ticket, no limit) in late summer for one license authorization, with proceeds benefiting Wisconsin elk management and research. The DNR will notify drawing winners by early June. Elk hunting licenses for winners costs $49. The 2022 season runs Oct. 15-Nov. 13 and Dec. 8-16, and license holders can hunt during either period. For more information, search “elk hunting” on the DNR website.
Wisconsin Canoe Heritage Museum in Spooner is hosting its 13th annual free Canoe & Wooden Boat Show Saturday, May 28, from 10 a.m.-4 p.m. The museum hosts the celebration annually on the Saturday of Memorial Day weekend. The event includes an exhibit hall open house; canoe raffle; canoe workshop activities; live music, food, and beverages in the beer garden; and a silent auction of donated items. Exhibitors display wooden boats of all shapes, sizes, and designs, as well as classic and vintage water and paddling related items. For more information and auction item photos, visit www.wisconsincanoeheritagemuseum.org or call (715) 635-2479.
Fishing action is improving with bass and panfish spawning activities increasing, though the cold fronts somewhat inhibit their efforts. Fishing success will continue to improve with warming water temperatures ‑ and Memorial Day weekend might be “the” time to go fishing.
Musky season opens in the Northern Musky Zone Saturday, May 28.
Check out the Chippewa Flowage 2022 Pike Improvement Project 3.0. Keep any northern pike less than 24 inches, register it at a LCFRA Member establishment, and have a chance to win thousands of dollars in cash and prizes!
Walleye fishing is good to very good as fish go on a post-spawn feed. Find them on shallow weeds, weedlines, and weed edges, in bays, and on rock points and humps. They can be very shallow under low light conditions. The most productive baits include walleye suckers, fatheads, leeches, and crawlers on jigs and/or under slip bobbers, harnesses, Lindy Rigs, and spinner rigs; stickbaits, jerkbaits, crankbaits, swimbaits, and plastics.
Northern pike fishing is very good to excellent as they prowl warming shallow, weedy areas and near concentrations of panfish and baitfish. Northern and walleye suckers under bobbers, hair jigs, crankbaits, spinners, spinnerbaits, spoons, and reaction baits all entice pike.
Largemouth bass action is good as the fish prepare to spawn. You will find them on sand bottom areas, as well as in shallow to mid-depth weeds and along the weed edges. Plastics, leeches, and minnows on jigs and/or under slip bobbers, Senkos, creature baits, and surface baits are all attractive to largemouth.
Smallmouth bass fishing is good, with fish on points, humps, rock, sand, transition areas, and shorelines in 4-12 feet. Walleye suckers, spinnerbaits, fatheads, jerkbaits, crankbaits, tubes, creature baits, and other plastics, especially those in crayfish colors, are all catching fish.
Crappie fishing is good to very good as the fish prepare for spawning when water temperatures permit ‑ and cold fronts are not helping. Fish are around shallow weeds in warming water, or in mid-depths with the fronts. Top bait choices include crappie minnows, fatheads, waxies, leeches, plastics, Tattle-Tails, Mini-Mites, and Gulp! baits on small jigs fished with or without slip bobbers. White, pink, and chartreuse are popular colors.
Bluegill fishing is good to very good as fish stage for spawn. The cool/cold fronts move them from shallow to mid-depths, however, so target them accordingly. Look for bluegills around weeds and on sand bottoms in shallow water where it is warming quickly. Traditional baits such as waxies, worms, leaf worms, crawler chunks, leeches, plastics, and Gulp! baits on teardrops and small jigs are all very effective. Try small minnows to avoid bait robbers.
Perch fishing is good in and around shallow weeds and weedlines. Waxies worms, minnows, and plastics on small jigs, as well as small spoons, are productive offerings.
May 30: Memorial Day.
June 4-5: DNR Free Fishing and Free Fun Weekend.
June 24-26: Musky Fest (715-634-8662).
June 26: Hayward Bass Club Open bass tournament on Round Lake 8 .am.-4 .pm. (405-227-1789).
E: May 18-24
F: May 25-31
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.