Hayward Lakes Outdoor Report 6-6-23

Steve Suman

The forecast predicts sunny and warm until Friday and Saturday when showers might enter the picture, but sunshine returns Sunday and Monday. Beautiful weather for outdoor activities ‑ but stock up on the bug juice!

“The Quiet Lakes’ bite is good for all species and should continue with stable weather,” says Greg at Happy Hooker. “Water temperatures are skyrocketing, with reports of 78-degree surface temperatures. Mosquitoes are horrendous and it appears to not slow anytime soon.

“Musky entries on our shop board so far total one, caught opening day on a perch colored Rapala. Focus on weed edges in bays during the day; work shallow, sandy shorelines at dusk with topwaters such as walk the dogs, buzzers, and creepers. Bucktails and larger spinnerbaits are great to cover water and find fish.

“Walleye fishing is steady, but will slow as fish move to deeper structure. Most anglers fish leeches on jigs or under slip bobbers on deep weed edges in 10-12 feet. The edges might not yet be fully developed, but with quickly rising water temperatures, fish where you found that edge in the past.

“Northern pike are shallow and preying on panfish. Use spinnerbaits and crankbaits to trigger strikes.

“Largemouth bass, with the warm water temperatures, are already smashing topwater baits such as Whopper Ploppers, Lucky 13s, and frogs, a bite that generally happens in late July and August. Work shallow shorelines and weed beds with spinnerbaits and plastic worms; work topwaters around lily pads.

“Smallmouth bass are on deeper rock bottoms off points and main lake humps. Crankbaits, plastics on Ned rigs, Tokyo rigs, and drop-shot rigs are all good. Simple jigs and minnows worked along bottom can be great right now.

“Crappie fishing is good, but it appears they have spawned and scattered. Most are in 5-8 feet, but you have to work for the nicer fish. Minnows and plastics on jigs, Mimic Minnows, and Beetle Spins work great.

“Bluegills and perch remain shallow, with weed beds not fully developed. Fishing around docks should be great with the current water temperatures. Plain hooks and crawler chunks under bobbers are the way to go.”

Jarrett at Hayward Bait says musky action is slow, though many anglers report follows.

“The fish are lethargic, which will linger through the summer, especially on hot days. Small baits shine in early season, and smaller bucktails such as Mepps, Musky Safari, Ghost Tails, and Buchers work well. Fish should be shallow, but try 5-20 feet with weeds or structure.

“Walleyes are transitioning to weedlines in 6-12 feet, and anglers report success with leeches and minnows on slip bobbers. Walleye suckers and fatheads work, but leeches will soon be the go-to bait.

“Northern pike are shallow and live bait works well, with reports of some fish greater than 40 inches. Try working swimbaits, spinnerbaits, spoons, and plastics over feeding flats.

“Largemouth and smallmouth bass are staging or spawning in many lakes, and Ned rigs, live bait, and plastics work for both. Be mindful of fish on beds. It does not take much to stress these fish. Land the fish quickly, snap a photo, and return it to its bed. They are protecting the next generations for you, your kids, and grandkids!

“Crappies are in all stages of spawning. Some are staging, some are spawning, and some completed spawning. Look for areas near reed beds, cattails, shallow weeds ‑ areas that offer fish protection when they come in to spawn. Crappie minnows and small plastics on jigs work well. This presentation works for fish on beds, but you have to make pinpoint casts to get on top of them.

“Bluegills seem ready to spawn. To find staging fish, look for old spawning beds the fish used in the past. Small bits of crawler and/or leeches under floats will pull fish from afar. This time of year, remember to release the big bull bluegills, the key nest protectors. Removing them removes the big bluegills’ genetics from a system, and removing many big bull bluegills is a good way to stunt a lake.”

Mike at Jenk’s says that as of last week, the Chippewa Flowage pool is full, with water temperatures in the high 60s.

“Air and surface temperatures are rising and this pertains to caring for your minnows. Do not keep them in trolling buckets in the lake ‑ they will not survive. Keep them cool and aerated in insulated buckets. You cannot baby minnows too much with these warm temperatures.

“Musky reports indicate fish are hitting live bait, smaller musky baits, and even pike and bass baits. Keep baits smaller until the main part of summer. You will probably find muskies chasing bluegills in shallow bays.

“Walleye fishing slowed, but minnows and leeches remain the live baits of choice. Rising water temperatures have walleyes heading deeper, particularly during daylight hours. Try trolling deeper crankbaits during the day, and hitting weedy humps in 6-8 feet at night.

“Northern pike fishing is decent in the weeds and shallows, and live bait is still a great choice. Tinsel Tails and Johnson Silver Minnows with pork trailers are great choices for artificials.

“Smallmouth bass are on shallow rocks and hitting Ned rig plastics consistently.

“Crappies are no longer in the bays and starting to head deeper. Initial reports suggest they are around deadfalls hanging over deeper shorelines. Minnows, Voodoo Jigs, Mini-Mites, and Gulp! baits are all great bait choices.

“Bluegills are definitely still shallow, and waxies, leaf worms, and Voodoo Woolly Buggers and Flash Bang jigs are popular bait choices.”

This week, DNR fisheries biologist Max Wolter discusses Nelson Lake netting survey results.

“In late April, the DNR Hayward Fish Team conducted a netting survey on Nelson Lake. In 2014 and 2017, we also conducted netting surveys, with walleye the specific target species. This year, northern pike and crappie were the specific target species. This was to fill in some gaps in our understanding of what is happening with those populations in Nelson.

“We set 10 nets on April 28, just as most of the lake became free of ice. We returned the next day to find nets loaded with fish, a sign that pike were eager to start spawning and crappie were warming up in the shallows.

“The pike catch was considerably higher than past surveys of Nelson Lake. Size was still fairly good, and about 17 percent of all pike captured were greater than 28 inches. However, pike size was not as high as in the past. The main reason for decreased size is the increased abundance of pike. Historically, Nelson Lake pike have been a lower density population, which allowed for faster growth and better top-end size. This survey provided some indication that status may be changing. This will be an issue that deserves more analysis and possibly action.

“Crappies were also very abundant. In fact, we captured so many crappie we were not able to measure them all. High abundance and below average size has been a long-standing issue on Nelson Lake since walleye abundance dropped.

“While this survey did not explicitly target walleye, there was no indication that their abundance was increasing, despite considerable stocking effort. The walleye we did capture were mostly larger and older fish. These are certainly fun to catch, but when only large old adults are present, it is usually a sign of a fishery in decline.

“Nelson is an important lake in the area, with lots of angling interest. We will be looking at all options to improve different aspects of the fishery.”

Hayward Lakes Chapter-Muskies Inc. welcomes the public to its club meeting Tuesday, June 6, at Flat Creek Lodge in Hayward. A general business meeting starts at 6:30 p.m., followed by a DNR Spooner Hatchery fisheries biologist who will explain the raising and stocking of fish from egg gathering to stocking. Admission is free and anyone interested in becoming a new member of Muskies, Inc. can purchase a half-price membership. For more information, call Mike Persson (715) 634-4543.

Fishing Report

Fishing remains good to very good for most species, but make sure to take bug repellent!

Remember: Smallmouth bass fishing is catch-and-release only until June 17 in the Northern Bass Zone.


Musky action is somewhat slow, though anglers report many follows and a few hook-ups. Depths range from 4-18 feet. During the day, target weeds, weed edges in bays, and other cover; in evening hours, work shallow, sandy shorelines. Live bait, bucktails, buzzbaits, spinnerbaits, and various topwaters can all work at different times.


Walleye fishing is good and consistent as fish start to disperse and move deeper. Find them on weedlines, weed edges, and humps in 4-12 feet, focusing on the shallow areas in the evening hours. The most effective offerings include walleye suckers, fatheads, and leeches on jigs and/or under slip bobbers, and trolled stickbaits and crankbaits.

Northern Pike:

Northern pike fishing is good around shallow weeds and panfish and baitfish concentrations. Top producing baits include minnows, crankbaits, spinners, spinnerbaits, swimbaits, and spoons with trailers.

Largemouth Bass:

Largemouth bass are in pre-spawn or spawning, depending on the lake, and fishing is good on shallow weed beds, lily pads, and shorelines. Live bait, spinnerbaits, plastic worms, Ned rigs, and topwaters are all taking fish.

Smallmouth Bass:

Smallmouth bass are also in pre-spawn or spawning and fishing is good on shallow rock points and humps. Baits of choice include live bait, jigs and minnows, crankbaits, and plastics on Ned, Tokyo, and drop-shot rigs. Smallmouth bass fishing is catch-and-release only until June 17 in the Northern Bass Zone.


Crappie fishing is good to very good, with fish pre-spawn, spawning, and post spawn, depending on the lake. Find them around shallow weeds, reeds, cattails, and fallen timber in depths to 10 feet. Some fish are heading deeper. Crappie minnows, plastics, Mini-Mites, and Gulp! baits on plain/dressed jigs, Mimic Minnows, and Beetle Spins all work well.


Bluegill fishing is very good to excellent as the fish are in spawning mode on many waters. Look for “elephant tracks” (nests) around shallow weeds and sandy shorelines. Waxies, leaf worms, crawler pieces, leeches, plastics, and Gulp! baits on small dressed and plain jigs and plain hooks under bobbers are all productive offerings.

Upcoming Events

May 27: Musky season opened in the Northern Musky Zone.

June 3-11: National Fishing & Boating Week.

June 6: Hayward Lakes Chapter-Muskies Inc. general meeting 7 p.m., Flat Creek Lodge (715-634-4543).

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

June 17: Chequamegon 100 (715-798-3599).

June 21: Summer Solstice – first day of summer!

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 2: Full Buck Moon.

July 6-8: Spooner Heart of the North Rodeo.

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.