Monday started this week with rain and a thunderstorm that delivered golf-ball size hail to the Hayward area. The forecast indicates sunshine and thunderstorms intermixed through the week. Look for warm to very warm temperatures from mid to late week, nearing 90 degrees Thursday. THAT should warm the water and get the fish “doing their spring thing.” Watch the skies and forecasts, as winds could be very strong and some storms severe.
“Quiet Lakes’ ice went out about a week ago and water temperatures are still low,” says Greg at Happy Hooker. “Shallow bays on the north ends, the first to warm, will hold fish. Toward day’s end, fish shallow sand/rock shorelines that absorb the sun, heating the rocks. Even slight temperature changes can hold fish.
“Walleyes are in the warm shallows, especially during first and last light. Look for rocky points, humps, and bars topping out around 5-10 feet. Jigs and minnows under bobbers, hopping jigs and minnows and along the bottom, hair jigs, and jigs with plastics all work well.
“Northern pike now roam most waters, eating panfish in the shallows and hiding in weeds and off deep points waiting to ambush prey. Spinnerbaits work extremely well. You can reel them fast and high in the water column, or retrieve slowly and let them sink a bit.
“Largemouth bass are in warmer bays where weeds grow first. It is not yet a topwater bite, but Texas-rigged worms, Ned rigs, and jigs with plastic crawfish imitations will work. Working spinnerbaits on shallow and deep weedline edges in 5-15 feet is a great choice.
“Smallmouth bass are mixed in with walleyes. Pitching plastics and fatheads on jigs, and swimbaits on hooks, are good bets. Work rocky humps, bars, and points leading to deep basins.
“Crappie fishing is good and will get even better as the water reaches spawning temperature. Fishing shallow, emerging weeds with simple hooks and minnows under bobbers is a sure way to catch limits. Small jigs under bobbers tipped with plastics such as Gulp! Minnows or Tattle-Tails work great while drifting through weed beds in 5-10 feet.
“Bluegills are staging for spawn in shallow, sandy areas. You can see the spawning beds along sandy shorelines and crawlers under bobbers are hard to beat.
“Perch bites and crappie fishing go hand-in-hand. Perch hide in the weeds from predators and love stealing minnows from crappie anglers. No need to get fancy ‑ plain hooks and minnows under bobbers will catch fish.”
Jarrett at Hayward Bait advises anglers to make sure fishing licenses are current and to check new fishing regulations, particularly those for Chippewa Flowage panfish and northern Wisconsin walleye.
“Walleyes will complete spawn soon and be hungry. Fish the first drop-off adjacent to shallow water. During the day, work jigs/crawlers and jigs/minnows especially slowly across the bottom. Leeches are scarce due to late ice, so key on minnow presentations. The bite picks up during twilight, so try pitching bigger stickbaits and crankbaits on shallow flats where walleyes actively hunt small bluegill and perch.
“Northern pike are shallow throughout the day. Check back bays where dark, hard bottoms absorb the sun, quickly warming the water. Live bait, plastics, big hair jigs, and spinnerbaits will tempt hungry post-spawn pike.
“Largemouth bass are roaming shallow flats alongside bluegills. Early season bass bites can go many ways, but to start the season, spinnerbaits, jerkbaits, chatterbaits, and any reaction type baits are irresistible to largemouth.
“Smallmouth bass are on shallow, rocky areas in 5-10 feet as they search for crawfish, small minnows, or anything their appetite suggests ‑ such as whatever you throw at them! It is never too early to pitch Ned rigs and work them across the bottom. Otherwise, do not be afraid to upsize stickbaits for aggressive fish.
“Crappies are near their spawning areas waiting for water temperatures in the upper 50s, but lurk in those shallow areas for baitfish. Bad weather or any front might push crappies out of the shallows and onto the first drop-off into deeper water. Crappie minnows and fatheads under slip floats work well. These fish are very spooky, so make long casts and leave your fishing area as undisturbed as possible.
“Bluegills awaiting a move shallow are around structure in 5-10 feet. Look for old weed growth, logs, stumps, or anything that provides cover. Every predator fish is hungry and bluegill is what is for dinner. These fish are in schools and spooky, too, so make long casts with waxies, tiny crappie minnows, and small plastics.”
Cathy at Minnow Jim’s says the ice was off Nelson Lake for opening weekend, with Saturday warm and sunny, but fishing was a little slow and needs warmer water.
“Shallow bays and shorelines where the water is warmer are best, combined with slow bait/lure retrievals.
“Walleye anglers fishing the river mouth on the north end reported some success with walleye suckers, fatheads, and stickbaits.
“Northern pike are plentiful, though many catches were less than the 32-inch minimum legal length limit. Northern suckers, spinnerbaits, and bucktails are most productive.
“Crappie and bluegill anglers should look for fish in sheltered bays. Try minnows, crawlers, waxies, and worms on jigs and/or under bobbers.”
This week, DNR fisheries biologist Max Wolter discusses local and non-local catch rates.
“Michael Lant, a researcher at the DNR’s Escanaba Lake Research Station, and colleagues, looked at the angling catch rates among local and non-locals on three lakes in Vilas County. They analyzed catch rates of fish caught per hour of angling for muskellunge, walleye, smallmouth bass, and yellow perch.
“The researchers defined ‘local anglers’ as those who reside in Vilas and Oneida counties, ‘non-local Wisconsin anglers’ as those from Dane and Milwaukee counties, and ‘non-resident’ anglers, most of whom were from Minnesota and the Chicago area.
“In general, the time spent fishing was similar among local, non-local, and non-resident anglers. Regardless of where they were from, most anglers fished 2-5 hours per day.
“Lant’s analyses showed that catch rates varied among anglers from different places, but not for all species. Catch rates were no different between locals, non-local Wisconsinites, and out-of-state residents for smallmouth bass or walleye.
“Local anglers had higher catch rates for yellow perch than non-locals and non-residents. Local anglers had higher catch rates for muskellunge than non-locals, but not higher than non-residents.
“These results provide at least some support for the value of ‘local knowledge’ in fishing success. Interestingly, in this analysis, the locals had statistically higher catch rates only for yellow perch, the most abundant species, and muskellunge, the least abundant species.
“The lakes in this study are undeveloped, which means future research elsewhere could include a fourth group: lake residents, who one might assume to have even more familiarity with a lake.”
The application deadline for the 2022 Wisconsin elk hunting season tag drawing is May 31. Only Wisconsin residents are eligible. The application fee is $10, limited to one per person. The Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation (RMEF) will raffle one license authorization in late summer. Raffle tickets cost $10 each, with no purchase limit. Elk licenses for drawing winners costs $49. The 2022 season runs Oct. 15-Nov. 13 and Dec. 8-16. License holders can hunt during either period. For more information, search “elk hunting” on the DNR website.
Treeland Resorts’ annual Treeland Challenge Bass and Walleye Catch and Release Tournament runs Thursday May 12 through Sunday May 15. This tournament is all about the camaraderie of fishing, and participants can win thousands of dollars in door prizes ever day of the tournament! For information, visit www.treelandresorts.com or call (715) 462-3874.
The ice is gone (barely) and anglers enjoyed a near-perfect opening day Saturday. Action was somewhat slow due to the cool water, but that should change this week!
If you have not renewed your license, do so now. If you are not current on regulation changes, get current now. Stop at your favorite bait shop to do the aforementioned (why let something easily avoidable ruin a great day of fishing?), and while there, get the most current information on fish locations, baits, and presentations.
Walleye action is good to very good, with fish nearing the end of spawn. Best fishing is in early morning and late afternoon into dark. Target shallow areas in low light, and shallow/mid-depth humps, bars, and rocky points during the day. Walleye suckers, fatheads, crawlers, and plastics, stickbaits, crankbaits, and minnowbaits are all producing.
Northern pike are on the prowl and providing good action. Find them around shallow to mid-depth weeds, points, panfish concentrations, and warm back bays that receive sun. Northern suckers under bobbers, spinnerbaits, spoons, and bucktails will all grab their attention.
Largemouth bass fishing is improving with the water warming. Work weeds, stumps, rock, sand, shallow flats, and other structure that absorbs sunlight and holds warmth. Top baits, fished slowly, include Ned rigs, jigs/plastics, Texas-rigged worms, and spinnerbaits.
Smallmouth bass action is fair to good, with fish on rocks, rock humps, points, bars, and other hard bottoms looking for crayfish, minnows, and other favorite foods. Sucker minnows and fatheads, plastics, swimbaits, and crankbaits in crayfish colors, Ned rigs, and stickbaits will all work for smallmouth (catch-and-release until June 18!)
Crappie fishing is good and improving as the water warms to the upper 50s/60s spawning temperatures. Look for fish around weeds out to 12 feet, moving shallower or deeper with the storm fronts. Crappie minnows, fatheads, waxies, Gulp! baits, Tattle-Tails, and plastics on jigs, plain hooks, and/or under slip bobbers are all working.
Bluegill fishing is very good as fish start to stage for spawning in the near future. Look for fish in and just off the shallows out to 10 feet or so, in bays, along shorelines, and around weeds, wood, stumps, and other types of cover. Small jigs tipped with waxies, worms, crawler chunks, small minnows, and plastics all work great.
Perch fishing is good around shallow to mid-depth weeds. Jigs and plain hooks with fatheads, crappie minnows, minnow heads, waxies, and plastics, fished with/without slip bobbers, will produce some action.
May 12-15: Treeland Challenge Bass and Walleye Catch and Release Tournament (715-462-3874).
May 20-21: 35th Annual Fishing Has No Boundaries Hayward event (715-634-3185).
June 4-5: DNR Free Fishing and Free Fun Weekend.
June 24-26: Musky Festival (715-634-8662).
June 26: Hayward Bass Club Open bass tournament on Round Lake 8 .am.-4 .pm. (405-227-1789).
C: May 4-10
D: May 11-17
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.