Hayward Lakes Outdoor Report 6-20-23

Steve Suman

Hot and dry all week, according to the forecast, with high temperatures in the upper 80s and very slight chances for rain until Friday afternoon. However, at this point, the current forecast indicates possible wet weather for the upcoming Musky Festival weekend, Friday through Sunday, June 23-25. That said, with recent numerous “near misses” on rain predictions, enjoy Musky Fest, and deal with the rain IF it happens. Besides, a bit of rain might be quite welcome with those 90-degree temperatures!

“Cold fronts with strong north winds arrived in the Quiet Lakes area last week,” says Greg at Happy Hooker, “lowering lake temperatures nearer to normal for this time of year. Lake levels are dropping with the lack of rain, and anglers should watch for rocks and other structure that could damage props or trolling motors. Fishing remains good, despite the changing conditions.

“Musky action picked up last week, with anglers taking most fish on smaller bucktails and spinnerbaits. Fish in and around weed beds and skinny water. Anglers kayaking some rivers report doing well on muskies with topwater baits.

“Walleyes are on deep weed edges and anglers are using leeches on jigs and/or slip bobbers, with fatheads another option.

“Northern pike are active, with most catches on smaller bucktails and spinnerbaits. Some anglers catch fish on crankbaits fished in and out of cover.

“Largemouth bass fishing is hot and does not look to slow anytime soon. Everything from crawlers to spinnerbaits to topwaters and frogs work well. Concentrate on shallow weeds, especially lily pads and reeds.

“Smallmouth bass action is good around structure on hard-bottoms that transition into basins. Work baits near the bottom, and Ned rigs, drop-shot rigs, and jigs with tubes all produce.

“Crappie fishing is consistent with live bait fished in weed beds in 6-10 feet.

“Bluegill fishing is hot, though it requires sorting to get some good ones. Fish are on shallow shoreline structure such as docks, trees, and other stuff hanging into the water column. Most anglers do well with a hook and leaf worm.”

Jarrett at Hayward Bait says musky fishing has slowly picked up over the last few weeks.

“Most anglers throwing small bucktails or floating small musky or northern suckers are finding fish over weed flats and on weed edges.

“Walleye fishing remains steady, with anglers boating some very nice fish last week, and the switch from minnows to leeches has been very productive. During the day, slip bobbers on deeper weedlines work very well. When daylight starts fading, faster approaches such as minnows or crawlers on jigs bounced off the bottom also work well. Anglers trolling on larger waterbodies report some success with crankbaits and crawler harnesses.

“Northern pike fishing is steady and many bigger fish moved to deeper weedlines. Northern and walleye suckers are the primary live bait options. For smaller pike that will make a great meal, work shallow weeds with spinnerbaits and shallow diving crankbaits.

“Largemouth and smallmouth bass are mostly done with spawn. Largemouth will move to the first weed beds out from their spawning habitat. Smallmouth head for rock flats and weed edges. Drop-shot rigs, spinnerbaits, plastics, and topwaters all work well.

“Crappies are mostly in post-spawn mode and have moved to weed flats outside spawning areas to recover. During daylight hours, fish can tuck deep into the weeds, but rise later in low light periods to feed. Beetle Spins or jigs with plastics work very well to cover water and locate fish.

“Bluegills have mostly completed spawn and are feeding on bugs over weed flats. Work slip-bobbers and small plastics quickly to locate fish locations.”

This week, DNR fisheries biologist Max Wolter discusses ‘fishy happenings’ at Musky Fest.

“Musky Festival will celebrate its 73rd year in Hayward June 23-25. As usual, there will be many fishy things happening in this fish-centric celebration.

“Fishing Has No Boundaries will run the fishing contest, which stretches from Thursday morning to 3 p.m. Saturday. Rules and details are available at www.muskyfest.com/fhnb-fishing-contest.

“At Shues Pond, past and present DNR staff and volunteer experienced anglers will teach kids how to fish from noon to 4 p.m. Friday and Saturday. The staff and volunteers provide all equipment and bait, and any youth 16 years and younger can fish for free. Frank Pratt will be available with hands-on lure making at the pond during that time.

“From 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Saturday, DNR staff and volunteers from Frandsen Bank will host a casting skills competition on Main Street adjacent to Frandsen Bank. Come by and hone your casting skills before heading to Shues Pond or other area waters to go for the big one!”

The DNR has stocked more than 750,000 catchable-sized brook, brown, and rainbow trout into Wisconsin waters between last fall and this spring. Raised by DNR state hatchery staff at the Nevin, Osceola, and St. Croix state hatcheries and the West Central Region and Northeastern Region Cooperative fish rearing facilities, the DNR raises these fish to help supplement natural trout populations. For stocking in Sawyer and other counties, see the list of locations stocked with catchable-sized trout so far.

The Hayward Musky Festival is this weekend, Friday through Sunday, June 23-25. The event includes a fishing contest, sidewalk sales, food booths, children’s games, Musky Run, carnival, craft show, live music, street dances, parade, and crowning of the Musky Festival Queen. For more information, visit www.muskyfest.com or call (715) 634-8662.

Fishing Has No Boundaries will once again conduct the Musky Fest Fishing Contest Thursday through Saturday June 22-24. The contest includes all Hayward area waters. The registration form is available at https://muskyfest.com/fhnb-fishing-contest. The contest will award first and second prizes in all fish categories. Entrants receive one free raffle ticket per entry. Additional tickets cost $1 each or 6/$5. Raffle drawings will occur at 5 p.m. Saturday, June 24, at the FHNB fishing booth. Must be present to win. The generous donations of many area businesses and organizations help make this catch-and-release contest possible. For more information, rules, prizes, and more, visit the website, email hayfhnb@cheqnet.net, or call Jenny at (715) 634-3185 ext. 4.

Musky Fest’s popular DNR Learn to Fish at Shues Pond with local DNR fisheries staff and experienced volunteer anglers will take place from 12 noon-4 p.m. The hosts provide all equipment and bait, and youth 16 and younger can fish for free. Join former DNR fisheries biologist Frank Pratt for his hands-on lure making instruction. Saturday, from 10 a.m.-2 p.m., DNR staff and Frandsen Bank volunteers host a casting skills competition adjacent to the bank on Main St.

Hayward Bass Club is hosting its catch-and-release Round Lakes Open Tournament Sunday, June 25, from 8 a.m.-4 p.m., with the contest checkpoint at Powell’s at Grand Pines. The entry fee is $100 per team, with the contest limited to 50 boats. An individual can compete as a team, First place prize is $1,500. For more information, and to view the event flyer, visit the Hayward Bass Club website or text Wayne at (405) 227-1789.

Fishing Report

Fishing is remains good for most species, and water temperatures are back to near seasonal thanks to some recent, somewhat cooler weather. Most fish are now post-spawn and in transition, so make sure to check with your favorite bait shop personnel to get the most current information on fish locations, favored baits and presentations, and bite windows.

Please note that the lack of rain has caused a drop in water levels on most lakes, so be on the lookout for rocks, bars, stumps, and other structure that are now hazards. What you have boated ‘over’ in the past might not be possible at this time! Do so for the safety of your passengers and yourself, as well as to avoid boat and motor damage.


Musky action continues to improve, albeit slowly. Look for fish in/on shallow to mid-depth weeds, weed beds, weedlines, and weed flats, points, and humps. Smaller baits still work best, with bucktails, spinnerbaits, jerkbaits, gliders, and topwaters all effective. Live bait can work well, too, but the warm water temperatures make it an iffy proposition.


Walleye fishing remains surprisingly steady for most anglers pursuing these fish. During the day, target deeper weeds, weedlines, and weed edges with leeches under slip bobbers. In late afternoon into dark, try working jigs with leeches, crawlers, and fatheads on the bottom. Trolled crankbaits, crawler harnesses, and live bait spinner rigs are producing on some of the larger lakes.

Northern Pike:

Northern pike fishing is good, consistent, and can be a trip saver. Hit shallower weeds for action and eaters, but focus on deep weedlines with larger baits for big, trophy pike. In addition, look for areas holding concentrations of baitfish and panfish. Northern and walleye suckers, minnows, #5 Mepps/spinners, spinnerbaits, spoons, bucktails, crankbaits, and stickbaits all work for pike! Check out the Chippewa Flowage Pike Improvement Project and Spider Lake Pike Improvement Project.

Largemouth Bass:

Largemouth bass fishing is very good to excellent, with post-spawn fish in/on shallow weeds, weedlines, weed beds, reeds, lily pads, and slop. Live bait (minnows, crawlers, and leeches), spinners, spinnerbaits, drop-shot rigs, assorted plastics, and topwater baits (including frogs) will all tempt these fish.

Smallmouth Bass:

Smallmouth bass fishing is good, with post-spawn bass on weedlines, weed edges, rock, and other hard bottoms. The most productive offerings include sucker minnows, crawlers, leeches, Ned rigs, drop-shot rigs, and various plastics (tubes, worms, creatures) on jigs, all fished close to the bottom.


Crappie fishing is good and steady, with fish in post-spawn. Look for them on weed beds and weed flats in 8-12 feet. During the day, fish are in deep weeds, but find the crappies shallower in evening hours. Baits of choice include crappie minnows, fatheads, panfish leeches, waxies, plastics, and Gulp! baits on jigs, and plain hooks, with or without slip bobbers, and Beetle Spins.


Bluegill fishing is very good to excellent, with most fish in post-spawn. Find them on shallow weeds and structure such as docks, fallen trees, brush, and along shorelines, as well as on weed flats. Top baits include waxies, worms, leaf worms, crawler chunks, panfish leeches, plastics, and Gulp! baits on small jigs, teardrops, and plain hooks, with or without slip bobbers.

Upcoming Events

June 17: Smallmouth bass harvest season opened in Northern Bass Zone.

June 21: Summer Solstice – first day of summer!

June 23-25: Musky Fest (715-634-8662).

June 22-24: Musky Fest FHNB Fishing Contest (715-634-3185).

June 23-24: DNR Learn to Fish at Shues Pond.

June 25: Hayward Bass Club’s 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.