Following a cool start, the area should see sunshine and gradually warming temperatures this week, with minimal chances for rain and/or thunderstorms (but chances all the same!) Cool nights for sleeping and warm days for recreating ‑ can it get any better in the North Woods? Enjoy!
“Mosquito activity in the Quiet Lakes’ area was slowing,” says Greg at Happy Hooker, “but Friday night’s rain brought them out in force Saturday morning. Lakes are lower than usual for this time, and warm, with most in the mid- to upper-70s, but fishing is solid for most species.
“Musky action has not taken off and part of the problem is the water warmed too quickly. Most of last Tuesday we worked weed beds hard with bucktails, then topwaters late in the day, and found no muskies where they ‘should’ be. Switch tactics to find a pattern that works.
“Walleye fishing remains good on deep weed edges. Most anglers use leeches on jigs or slip bobbers.
“Northern pike action is excellent on small bucktails and spinnerbaits over weed beds in 8 feet.
“Largemouth bass are mostly off the beds and in 3-5 feet, in the same weed beds as pike, and active on spinnerbaits and wacky rigs. Casting topwaters into lily pads could be great with the warm water.
“Smallmouth bass fishing is good for anglers working Ned rigs on structure on hard bottoms that transition into the basins. Drop-shot rigs, Ned rigs, and jigs with tubes worked near the bottom should be good.
“Crappie action slowed with fish scattering after spawning. Try working deeper weeds with jigs and minnows.
“Bluegill and perch action is hot, though requires some sorting. Fish are shallow, so focus on shoreline structure such as docks, trees, and stuff hanging down into the water. Anglers do well with a simple hook and leaf worm set-up.”
Jarrett at Hayward Bait says musky fishing is improving slowly on area waters.
“Most anglers are finding fish by throwing small bucktails or floating small musky or northern suckers over weed flats and edges.
“Walleye fishing is consistent, with anglers boating some nice fish. Switching to leeches has been very productive. During daylight hours, slip bobbers on deeper weedlines work well. When daylight fades, try bottom bouncing minnows or crawlers on jigs.
“Northern pike fishing is steady. Many bigger fish moved to deeper weedlines alongside walleyes. Northern and walleye suckers are the primary live bait. For smaller pike, try spinnerbaits or crankbaits over shallow weeds.
“Largemouth and smallmouth bass are bedding or post-spawn. For post-spawn fish, pitch plastic worms or drop-shot rigs on weed flats near spawning areas. Fish normally school after spawn and competition for bait can get fierce! Watch for fish coming in twos or threes chasing a hooked fish.
“Crappies are mostly post-spawn and recovering on weed flats outside of spawning areas. During daylight hours, you might find fish tucked away deep in the weeds, but they rise to feed later in the day in low light periods. Jigs with plastics, or Beetle Spins, work quite well to cover water and identify fish locations.
“Bluegills are extremely vulnerable at this time, so please practice selective harvest. Many big bull bluegills are on their beds and these fish are very important to the population’s genetics. If you over-harvest big bluegills in any lake, their replacements will be smaller bluegills with weaker genes, possibly resulting in a stunted population!”
Mike at Jenk’s says the Chippewa Flowage pool is full, with water temperatures in the low- to mid-70s.
“Musky anglers casting blades caught a few fish last week. This cool-down might bring some fish up to a bit shallower water. Use your electronics to do thorough scans of areas to spot baitfish, which is where muskies are likely hanging.
“Walleye fishing overall was slow in the past week, although this cool-down could change things. Successful anglers are fishing a bit deeper with leeches and running crankbaits. Weed edges in 6-8 feet should be productive in the evening.
“Northern pike are in weeds and active on Tinsel Tail spinnerbaits and Johnson Silver Minnows with pork trailers.
“Smallmouth bass are on fire with Ned rigs! No other bait comes close to producing the same numbers! The bass are not picky about color, size, or shape as long as it is a Ned rig.
“Crappie anglers report decent action around bogs in the evening. Fishing is slower during the day, but try around deeper shoreline deadfalls. Crappie minnows, Gulp! baits, Mini-Mites, and Voodoo Jigs remain the baits of choice.
“Bluegills were somewhat quiet last week, but perch are on the move! Anglers working waxies and leaf worms around Cedar Tops and Horseshoe Island report some very nice fish!”
This week, DNR fisheries biologist Max Wolter discusses Lac Courte Oreilles musky and northern pike surveys.
“The Hayward DNR Fish Team completed a quick netting survey on Lac Courte Oreilles’ (LCO) Musky Bay in early spring 2023. The survey’s intent was to target northern pike as they came into the bay to spawn. We expected to catch some pre-spawn muskellunge as well.
“Lac Courte Oreilles is not a native pike lake and pike removals conducted in 2017 and 2018 had the goal of improving pike size and increasing musky abundance. Those efforts appeared to be successful in the first few years following the removals.
“Our 2023 survey provided a good opportunity to check the status of pike and muskellunge. Pike catch rates in the survey were high, effectively returning to the level observed before the 2017-18 pike removals, something we expected to see eventually. Pike have continued to reproduce successfully in LCO and we knew abundance would again increase.
“Pike size is still slightly better than pre-removal, with 4 percent of captured pike 28 inches or greater, though it has decreased a bit from where it was in the first few years following the removal efforts. This information gives us some idea of how frequently pike removals might need to happen to maintain good size.
“More encouragingly, we had a high capture rate of muskellunge as well. Many of the muskies captured were from the 2017 stocking event, which appears to have been quite successful.
“It might be a viable strategy for both bigger pike and more muskellunge to remove pike in the years that musky stocking occurs, and we expect Lac Courte Oreilles to receive muskellunge stocking again in 2024.”
The DNR says people should take precautionsnow to avoid potential conflicts with black bears.
Black bears, most common in the northern half of the state, are cautious animals that normally avoid contact with people, but conflicts occur. Bears can associate human activities with food when food sources are readily available, which can lead to further conflict.
According to DNR wildlife damage specialist Brad Koele, grills, bird feeders, and unsecured trash containers or garbage cans are the most common attractants, especially in spring due to limited natural food sources. If a bear finds food, it often returns until the source is unavailable, but it might take several days to weeks after removing a food source for a bear to discontinue visiting. See the DNR pamphlet “Living with Black Bears in Wisconsin” for more information.
If a bear is near your home or cabin, from a safe location or safe distance from the bear, try to scare it away by making loud noises or throwing objects in the bear’s direction. Make sure it has a clear escape route and do not turn and run away. If you encounter a bear in the woods, stay calm and do not approach the bear. Wave your arms and make noise to scare it away. Back away slowly and seek a safe location. Never approach a bear, and do not attempt to break up a fight between your pet and a bear.
It is still spring and fishing remains good for nearly all species, even with the low, warm water. Moderately warm, sunny weather for much of this week will provide great fishing conditions, so get out and take advantage ‑ but take plenty of bug repellent! In addition, visit with your favorite bait shop for current baits, presentations, and fish locations.
Musky action remains slow, but is improving. Fish are on weed beds, weed flats, weed edges, and near panfish and baitfish concentrations. Baits of choice include small suckers, bucktails, and topwaters.
Walleye fishing is mostly good, consistent, and anglers are doing well. Fish are on mid-depth to deeper weedlines during the day, hitting leeches and crawlers on jigs or under slip bobbers. In the evening hours, work jigs tipped with minnows and crawlers on the bottom near weed edges in 4-10 feet. Crankbaits and stickbaits are also productive.
Northern pike fishing is good to excellent in/on shallow weeds, weed beds, and weedlines in depths to 10 feet, and near panfish and baitfish concentrations. Go deeper with bigger baits for trophy pike. Northern and walleye suckers, spinners, spinnerbaits, spoons, bucktails, and crankbaits will all grab a pike’s attention.
Largemouth bass action is good, with fish spawning/post-spawn and recovering. Look for fish on weed flats and in weed beds and lily pads in depths to 7 feet. The most productive offerings include various plastics, wacky rigs, drop-shot rigs, spinnerbaits, and topwaters.
Smallmouth bass fishing is good to very good, with fish spawning and post-spawn. Find them on weed flats and hard bottom structure. Ned rigs, plastics (worms, tubes), and drop-shot rigs fished on the bottom are all working great.
Crappies are post-spawn, scattering, and moving somewhat deeper. Fishing is fair to good around weeds, weedlines, brush, and bogs, with the best action in late afternoon into early evening. Best baits include jigs with crappie minnows, plastics, and Gulp! baits, as well as Mini-Mites, Voodoo Jigs, and Beetle Spins.
Bluegill fishing is very good to excellent, but selective harvest is a necessity. Find fish in/on shallow weeds and around shoreline structure. Use waxies, leaf worms, plastics, and Gulp! baits on small jigs and/or under slip bobbers.
June 17: Chequamegon 100 mountain bike race (715-798-3599).
June 18: Father’s Day (take dad fishing!).
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).
July 1: Boulder Lodge Resort cardboard boat race, 12:30-4 p.m. (715-462-3002).
July 2: Full Buck Moon.
July 6-8: Spooner Heart of the North Rodeo (715-635-9696).
July 13-16: LCO Honor the Earth Powwow (715-634-8934).
July 20-22: Lumberjack World Championships (715-634-2484).
July 22: Birchwood Lions Bluegill Festival, 7 a.m.-10 p.m. (800-236-2251).
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.