Hayward Lakes Outdoor Report 5-7-24

Steve Suman

Saturday’s fishing opener was rainy, cool, and windy, but participating anglers caught fish, and Sunday and Monday were beautiful days. This week is a changing mix of rain and sunshine, though with highs in the 60-degree range. Spring weather is here ‑ and hopefully for the duration! Take advantage of it!

The Hayward Musky Fest is in a three-way playoff in the Cenex Hometown Showdown, competing for $100,000 in prize money. Learn more ‑ and VOTE for the Hayward Musky Fest ‑ at CenexHometownThrowdown.com. One vote per person and the voting deadline is Wednesday, May 15, so vote now!

“It is too bad the fishing opener was not Friday,” says Greg at Happy Hooker. “It was a beautiful day in the Quiet Lakes’ area. Saturday was 20 degrees cooler, with on-and-off rain, but Sunday was again warm and sunny.

“Most lakes have good water levels, with water temperatures in the low 50s. The Chippewa Flowage remains down a couple feet, but fishable.

“Walleye anglers will find walleye shallower and it is tough to beat fatheads on jigs. Cast, let it hit bottom, and jig it back to the boat. Plastics on jigs, and leeches under bobbers, can be fantastic options. Rippin’ Raps, Husky Jerks, and others that hang in the zone on pauses also work well.

“Largemouth bass anglers will find fish somewhat deeper, but relating to summer spots. Spinnerbaits, crankbaits, and other baits that work a little deeper are great choices.

“Smallmouth bass are on the same mid-lake structure and rocky shorelines as walleyes and hitting similar baits.

“Crappies are on shallow weed beds in 4-8 feet and crappie minnows on small jigs or hooks under bobbers work best. In addition, try artificials such as 1/16th oz. Mimic Minnows and baits such as #4 Rapala X-Raps. Run them through the weeds, with pauses to entice strikes!

“Bluegills and perch are in/around the same weeds as crappies. Use crawlers and leaf worms for bluegills; use crappie minnows for perch.”

Jarrett at Hayward Bait says most post-spawn walleyes will remain in shallow cover.

“Target shorelines where walleye spawned, such as rocky, windswept shores and adjacent areas providing cover for recovering fish. Feeding action increases during sunrise and sunset. Cast jerkbaits, stickbaits, and blade baits onto shorelines and retrieve slowly. With the cold water, fish will not chase for extended periods.

“Northern pike are in shallow, hard bottom back bays that warm the quickest, so move in quietly. Suckers dangled in front of large pike should move them from their warm beds. For smaller pike, throw small inline spinners or spinnerbaits across weed tops.

“Largemouth and smallmouth bass will move shallower, darting back and forth between shallow and deep cover. Stickbaits, chatterbaits, and spinnerbaits shine when rolled slowly across key areas. As the water warms, a topwater bite as shallow as one foot will begin.

“Crappies are moving into shallow bays. Though spawning will not happen until water temperatures are 55-60 degrees, they are starting to stage and will feed aggressively until then. Plastics slow-rolled over cover or fatheads under slip bobbers can be deadly this time of year.

“Bluegills are moving shallow, though a ways from spawning. Cover around hard bottoms that warm quickly will hold fish. Fish might not yet be fired up for crawlers or red worms, and waxies on ice fishing jigs can be the ticket.”

This week, DNR fisheries biologist Max Wolter says Couderay River docks are ready to roll!

“Our corner of northern Wisconsin has some incredible river fishing opportunities, and access to a unique river just got easier.

“State and federal grants provided to the Town of Radisson and Village of Couderay have been used to develop a pair of canoe/kayak launches. Additional funding from the Hayward Chapter of Fishing Has No Boundaries, the H.C. Becker Foundation, and Wisconsin Smallmouth Bass Alliance helped make these projects possible.

“The upstream access can be found in the Village of Couderay at the end of Mapes Road, with entrance from Hoffer Road. There is parking and a floating dock with accessibility features to make it easier to load and launch a canoe or kayak. From there, you can float about five miles to the Town of Radisson park/campground (off Hwy 40), where another dock at the north end of park facilitates takeout.

“This float takes several hours under good conditions, can be challenging during low water, and might require getting out of the boat to move it through shallow riffles. We do not recommended going beyond the takeout in Radisson, as the river then becomes very rough.

“This stretch of river from Couderay to Radisson includes several excellent holes that have smallmouth bass, musky, northern pike, catfish, and suckers. Even those not interested in catching fish can enjoy excellent fish watching in the crystal clear water, and you might see very large sturgeon, though there is no fishing season for sturgeon on the river.

“As is always the case, those using the river should treat it with respect. Please take out any trash and avoid bringing glass on the water. We recommend catch and release to maintain the quality of the smallmouth bass fishery, while we encourage harvest of northern pike and catfish.”

Spring season turkey hunters continue to do well statewide, with current harvest (as of April 30) at 24,173 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 various disabilities to enjoy this unique fishing experience. Individuals and business owners donate all watercraft that we use for the event. To volunteer your time or watercraft, contact the chapter office.

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

The Hayward Lakes Chapter-Muskies Inc. welcomes the public to its club meeting Tuesday, May 7, starting at 7 p.m., at Flat Creek Lodge in Hayward. The guest speaker is well-known long-time local guide and radio host John Myhre, who will discuss using electronics to find fish, including forward facing sonar. Admission is free and anyone interested in becoming a new Muskies, Inc. member can purchase a half-price membership at the meeting.

For more information, call Mike Persson (715) 634-4543.


The ATV/UTV trails in Sawyer County Forest (715-634-4846), Chequamegon National Forest (715-634-4821), and Flambeau State Forest (715-332-5271) are now open! Check the HLVCB ATV/UTV trail conditions report and Sawyer County Snowmobile & ATV Alliance report for trail conditions and closures.

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. 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.

An ATV safety education class will be 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.

Visit the DNR ATV website to review rules and regulations. Follow the ATV/UTV map, and know the map legend.

Fishing Report

Saturday’s opening day of the gamefish season was rainy, cool, and windy. Sunday changed to warm and sunny, and Monday’s forecast called for more of the same. Angler reports indicate most had success, though some more than others.

Review the new regulation changes in effect for some Sawyer County waters.

The 2024 Wisconsin Fishing Report, available online, details the fishing season outlook for various gamefish species, gear and tackle tips, and information on fisheries projects. Visit the DNR fishing webpage for more detailed reports.


Walleye anglers are finding post-spawn fish on weedlines, sand flats, rocky points and shorelines, and nearby protective cover. Low light periods offer the best success. Walleye suckers, fatheads, leeches, and plastics on jigs are working well, as are minnowbaits jerkbaits, crankbaits, stickbaits, twitch baits, and plastics.

Northern Pike:

Northern pike are in mid-depths to warming shallow bays, weeds, and weedlines, and near concentrations of baitfish and panfish. Northern and walleye suckers on jigs and live bait rigs, and spinners, spinnerbaits, stickbaits, spoons, and jerkbaits will all catch fish. Check new northern pike bag limits on some Sawyer County waters.

Largemouth Bass:

Largemouth bass are slowly moving from their deeper haunts to somewhat shallower weeds, weedlines, and weed flats. Spinnerbaits, stickbaits, crankbaits, chatterbaits, plastics, and other lures run at somewhat deeper depths work well ‑ and do not overlook live bait offerings.

Smallmouth Bass:

Smallmouth bass anglers are finding fish on and between rocky shorelines and shallow mid-lake structure, and on gravel flats. Jigs and sucker minnows and other live bait, spinnerbaits, stickbaits, chatterbaits, and plastics all produce. Remember that smallmouth bass fishing in the Northern Bass Zone is catch and release only until June 15.


Crappies are moving towards shallow bays and weed beds, in 4-10 feet, pre-staging for spawn. Crappie minnows and fatheads on small jigs or plain hooks fished under slip bobbers are productive, as are tube jigs, Mimic Minnows, small X-Raps, and similar baits. Move baits slowly, making pauses during the retrieves.


Bluegill and perch fishing is fair to good in and near shallow weeds and hard bottom bays where there is warming water. Waxies, crawler pieces, leaf worm, small minnows, and plastics on small jigs, teardrops, and plain hooks ‑ fished under bobbers ‑ are very effective at this time.

Upcoming Events

May 4: New northern pike daily bag limit on some Sawyer County waters.

May 5-6: Peak Eta Aquarids Meteor Shower; 5-20 per hour, 2-4 a.m.

May 7: Hayward Lakes Chapter-Muskies Inc. meeting at Flat Creek Lodge, 7 p.m. (715-634-4543).

May 9-11: Treeland Challenge bass and walleye release tournament (715-462-3874).

May 15: Deadline to vote for Hayward Musky Fest in Cenex Hometown Showdown!

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

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

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.

Spring Turkey Season Dates

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

Period C: May 1-7

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.