Hayward Lakes Outdoor Report 6-18-24

Steve Suman

The forecast is not the best, predicting rain and thunderstorms for much of this week. However, the chances lessen after Wednesday, good news for the 74th Annual Musky Fest weekend! It would not be the first time rain dampened Musky Fest, but it has never dampened the spirit of the event ‑ do not let it hamper yours!

Thursday June 20 is the Summer Solstice, the first day of summer and longest day of the year.

“It looks like a soggy week in the Quiet Lakes’ area,” says Greg at Happy Hooker, “with up and down temperatures mostly in the 70s and a couple 80-degree days.

“Musky action is decent, with many fish following, but few committing. Smaller presentations such as #5 Mepps and Musky Killers produce most consistently. Fish the weeds and throw small baits.

“Walleyes are all over the place. Some anglers are doing well on deep transitions; some do well on shallow on rocks. Fatheads and leeches on jigs are productive.

“Northern pike are eating anything and everything. Live bait, crankbaits, spinnerbaits, and topwaters get the attention of pike, with shallow weed beds the prime spots.

“Largemouth bass fishing is good, with fish starting to hit topwaters. Plastic worms, minnows, crawlers, and leeches jigged in and around weeds are all working well.

“Smallmouth bass action is good at dusk when fish chase shallow baitfish. Leeches, plastics on jigs, and topwaters all work well. Rocky, sandy shorelines hold fish during both high and low light conditions.

“Crappie anglers are still finding fish hit or miss in 6-12 feet. Minnows work best, though Sliders, Crappie Scrubs, Mimic Minnows, and plastics on small jigs also work well.

“Bluegill anglers are seeing beds in shallow areas, so fish are close to spawning, if not already doing so. Crawlers and leeches under bobbers or slip floats make for a fun day of fishing.”

Jarrett at Hayward Bait says musky fishing is not great with the warming water.

“Anglers are catching muskies in 5-10 feet on smaller bucktails, crankbaits, and topwaters. Fish will move deeper with warming water.

“Walleyes moved to deeper weedlines, hitting leeches on slip bobbers. Long-lined Flicker Shads, Long A Bombers, and Husky Jerk in shallower waters work great to locate fish for slip bobber fishing later.

“Northern pike action is consistent. Many small pike chase shallow bluegills and panfish still spawning in 6 feet; large pike moved deeper. Live bait, spinnerbaits, spoons, and topwaters are effective.

“Largemouth bass are shallow, spawning or gearing up to spawn. Ned and Texas rigs work well for spawning fish; spinnerbaits and topwaters are good for fish not on beds. For post-spawn fish, wacky worms in 4-8 feet are the go-to baits.

“Smallmouth bass near the end of spawn are moving to main lake weedlines, rock piles, and cribs. Ned rigs, drop shots rigs, and topwaters all do well.

“Crappies are over shallow to mid-depth weeds. During the day, drag two-inch plastics on jigs over weed tops. After finding fish, come back with live bait under slip bobbers.

“Bluegills are now in bedding areas, with some fish on beds. There are usually a few waves of fish, so fishing will be good for the next week or two. Live bait, small plastics such as crickets, and Gulp! Minnows work great.”

This week, DNR fisheries biologist Max Wolter discusses Wisconsin’s freshwater shrimp.

“As a fisheries biologist, I have talked with many anglers who have spent time fishing lakes in North and South Dakota. They often return crowing about some of the fisheries built there, with a prey base of ‘freshwater shrimp.’

“So what are ‘freshwater shrimp’ and how special are they?

“In fact, the animal that anglers often call freshwater shrimp is very different from the type of shrimp you find in bait stores near the ocean or in grocery store seafood sections. Our freshwater shrimp are actually a group of invertebrates we know more officially as amphipods. They bear some similarities to saltwater shrimp, including segmented body parts, antennae, and multiple pairs of swimming legs.

“However, before you break out the cocktail sauce and head for a Wisconsin lake, you should know ‘freshwater shrimp’ typically range from about one-half- to three-quarters-inch in length and are not hard to find.

“There are at least eight different freshwater shrimp species in Wisconsin and they can exist in a wide range of waterbody types, including very warm and degraded waters. In fact, they are one of the more common types of invertebrates my kids catch in the creek near our house when they muck around with minnow nets.

“None of this means to diminish the importance of freshwater shrimp as a food item for fish. In some waters, amphipods, and their cousin the isopods, can be very abundant and an easily attainable food for many fish species. They are the perfect size for panfish to eat. Trout anglers might know them as ‘scuds.’

“Over the years, a few anglers have asked ‘Why don’t we introduce some of those freshwater shrimp here in Wisconsin?’ To which I always reply, ‘They’ve always been here!’”

The 74th Annual Musky Fest is this weekend, June 21-23. A fishing contest, car show, chalk art, food, live music arts and crafts vendors various contests, carnival, games for children, parade, 5/10k run walks, and too much more to list here. For a schedule of events, visit https://muskyfest.com or call (715) 634-8662.

The Musky Fest fishing contest, hosted by Hayward Bass Club and Hayward Lakes Chapter-Muskies Inc., begins at sunrise, Thursday June 20, with fish registration ending at 3 p.m. Saturday June 22. It includes any Hayward area waters. For more information and contest details, visit https://muskyfest.com/fishing-contest, email muskyfestfish@gmail.com, or call (715) 558-2835.

During Musky Fest, the Hayward DNR office will offer a Learn to Fish opportunity for kids at Shues Pond Friday, June 21, from 12-4 p.m. On Saturday, the DNR will stock the pond and welcomes families to come fish!

Hayward Bass Club’s annual Round Lakes Open is Sunday, June 23, from 8 a.m.-4 p.m., starting at Powell’s on Round Lake. The entry fee is $120 per two-angler team (individuals can compete as a team). For details, visit the Hayward Bass Club website or call (405) 227-1789.


Unless otherwise posted, all county roads outside of the LCO Reservation in Sawyer County are now legal for ATV/UTV use. County roads are those named with letters. The Trail Treker app shows these changes; the current paper map does not. 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 open. In Spider Lake Township, Trails 174 and 176 are no longer open to ATV/UTV use. This information is current on Trail Treker, but not on the paper map.

Check the HLVCB ATV/UTV trail conditions report and Sawyer County Snowmobile & ATV Alliance report for road and trail updates.

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/UTV safety certification course to operate legally on public ATV/UTV trails and areas in Wisconsin. An ATV safety education class is available June 28-29 in Winter. The course fee is $10. For more information, visit gowild.wi.gov; choose safety education, register, ATV, and Sawyer County.

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

Fishing Report

Fishing is fair to good, depending on the species, lake, location, and time of day. Wet weather and thunderstorms could hamper some fishing outings this week.

Smallmouth bass harvest season opened in the Northern Bass Zone this past Saturday, June 15.

Review the new pike and panfish size and possession limits for local lakes.


Musky fishing is frustrating. Anglers report many follows around weeds and weedlines in 4-12 feet, but the fish refuse to cooperate. Smaller bucktails, crankbaits, rubber baits, gliders, #5 Mepps, Musky Killers, and topwaters can all get the attention of muskies ‑ but it is up to you to entice a hit!


Walleye fishing is fair to very good, depending on the lake ‑ and the angler. Look for fish from shallow to deep, on rocks, weedlines, breaklines, brush, and transition areas. Baits of choice include walleye suckers and fatheads on jigs, leeches and crawlers under slip bobbers, and trolled Husky Jerks, Flicker Shads, and Long A Bomber baits.

Northern Pike:

Northern pike fishing is very good for smaller fish in/on shallow weeds and weedlines in 4-8 feet and around concentrations of panfish and baitfish. Go deeper for larger pike. Fish are hitting just about everything, including northern suckers, spinners, spinnerbaits, spoons, crankbaits, and topwaters.

Largemouth Bass:

Largemouth bass action is good to very good as fish are in the spawning process around shallow weeds and other structure. Minnows, crawlers, leeches, plastic worms in various riggings, spinners, spinnerbaits, prop baits, and topwaters such as frogs and poppers will all catch bass.

Smallmouth Bass:

Smallmouth bass are finishing spawning and fishing is good to very good, especially when they are chasing prey in the shallows around sunset. Weeds, weedlines, rocks, cribs, and sandy shorelines can all hold fish. Top baits include sucker minnows, leeches, crawlers, Ned and drop shot rigs, plastics on jigs, and topwaters.


Crappie action is fair to good for post-spawn fish, when you can locate them. Try in and over weedy areas in 4-12 feet. Crappie minnows and fatheads under slip bobbers, and Crappie Scrubs, Mimic Minnows, Sliders, and plastics on jigs and/or under slip bobbers are all effective at this time.


Bluegill fishing is very good to excellent as the fish are in various stages of spawning. Anglers report seeing “elephant tracks” and fish on beds in very shallow areas. Waxies, crawler chunks, leaf worms, leeches, plastics, and Gulp! Minnows on small hooks under slip bobbers are producing.

Upcoming Events

June 15: Smallmouth bass harvest season opened in the Northern Bass Zone.

June 20: Summer Solsticefirst day of summer and longest day of the year.

June 21: Full Strawberry Moon.

June 21-23: 74th Annual Musky Fest (715-634-8662).

June 20-22: Hayward Bass Club/Hayward Lakes Chapter-Muskies Inc.Musky Fest fishing contest (715-558-2835).

June 21: Learn to Fish for kids at Shues Pond, hosted by DNR, 12-4 p.m. (715-634-7429).

June 23: Hayward Bass ClubRound Lake Open, 8 a.m.-4 p.m., Powell’s on Round Lake (405-227-1789).

June 28-29: ATV/UTV safety education class in Winter; $10 fee.

July 6: Boulder Lodge 7th Annual Cardboard Boat Races, 12-6 p.m. (715-462-3002).

July 13: Heart of the North Spooner Rodeo, Washburn County Fairground, 12-10 p.m. (800-367-3306).

July 19-21: 51st Annual LCO Honor the Earth Pow Wow (715-634-8934).

July 19-21: Birchwood Bluegill Festival (800-236-2251).

July 21: Full Buck Moon.

Aug. 1-3: Lumberjack World Championships (715-634-2484).

Aug. 2-3: Jack Pine Savage Days in Spooner (715-635-2168).

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.