The forecast for this week says warm, with highs in the 80s and nighttime lows in the upper 50s to low 60s, with considerable sunshine available for all outdoor activities. Please do take advantage, as mid-July is already behind us!
“This week’s Quiet Lakes’ weather starts hot,” says Greg at Happy Hooker, “but midweek brings precipitation, and by the end of the week mid-80s temperatures. Maybe the warm front and cool down will get fish moving.
“Muskies are biting, but smaller fish and few more than 40 inches. Most are hitting small bucktails such as #5 Mepps and Mepps Musky Killers, and some topwater action. Focus on weed beds during dawn and dusk.
“Walleyes are relating to deep structure. Some anglers jig fatheads, some use leeches under slip bobbers, and some pull crawler harnesses slowly.
“Northern pike fishing is slow. To entice neutral and negative fish, downsize baits and slow presentations. Pike relate to thick weeds and weed edges, so fish those spots thoroughly.
“Largemouth bass action is good on topwaters such as frogs and Whopper Ploppers fished over weeds and lily pads. Crawlers and fatheads under bobbers work well in deep weeds.
“Smallmouth bass are on deep rocks, logs, and cribs. Leeches on jigs or on plain hooks under slip bobbers are catching good fish, as is bouncing crankbaits off rocks.
“Crappies scattered, with some schooling on deep structure and others on deep weed edges. Crappie minnows and waxies on small hair jigs and plain hooks are catching fish.
“Bluegills and perch take live bait under bobbers at any time. Work shallow weed beds and edges near sandy shorelines with crappie minnows, leeches, crawlers, small hair jigs, Beetle Spins, and Mister Twisters. For anglers fishing off docks, chunks of crawler are tough to beat.”
Levi at Hayward Bait says musky fishing is tough, with limited reports of success.
“Musky anglers are catching a few fish in shallow lily pads and along weedlines in 6-10 feet, with most catches on smaller bucktails and plastics.
“Walleye action is steady and many anglers are having success on deep weed clumps, weed/sand transitions, points, and steep breaks in 15-20 feet. The most productive baits are walleye suckers, fatheads, crawlers, and jumbo leeches, with some catches on trolled crankbaits and crawler harnesses.
“Northern pike fishing is very good for anglers fishing over the weed tops and on weedlines in 6-10 feet with northern and walleye suckers, spinnerbaits, small bucktails, and crankbaits.
“Largemouth bass fishing is challenging, but anglers working weedless plastics and topwaters slowly are catching some fish on weedlines in 6-8 feet and on weed flats and structure in 12-15 feet.
“Smallmouth bass fishing is also difficult, but anglers are catching them on leeches and leech imitations on drop-shot rigs, and on Ned plastics, in 15-20 feet, depending on water clarity. If the water is super clear, look deeper. Slow is the key to catching these fish in the heat.
“Crappies are off weedlines and structure in 15-20 feet, and mixed in with bluegills. Fishing is very good and anglers are doing well with crappie minnows, waxies, small hair jigs, and plastics.
“Bluegill fishing is very good on weed edges and structure in 10-12 feet. Best baits are waxies, crawlers, leaf worms, leeches, small plastics, and hair jigs.”
Cathy at Minnow Jim’s says Nelson Lake walleye anglers using leeches and minnows on jigs and deep diver baits are catching fish near the river channel.
“Northern pike are in the weeds and on weed beds and surface plugs and spinners are working well.
“Largemouth bass are hitting on many shapes and colors of plastic worms, frogs, spinners, and buzzbaits. Cast swim jigs and weedless spoons tipped with Twister Tails right into the weed beds.
“Crappies are active again, and tossing tube jigs near weedlines and popping them back on retrieves is working well. Try casting small Beetle Spins plain or tipped with bait, or use leeches, minnows, and worms on jigs or under bobbers. Many anglers are drifting across the river channel in the large open areas.”
This week, DNR fisheries biologist Max Wolter reflects on a decade of providing column items.
“This week I am going to allow myself a personal message in reflection of 10 years of contributing to this column.
“It was summer of 2012, my first year with the DNR in Hayward, when Steve Suman approached me about writing some type of weekly ‘fishing item’ for his Sawyer County Record Outdoor Report and online Hayward Lakes Visitors and Convention Bureau Outdoor Report. My predecessor Frank Pratt and now-retired colleague Skip Sommerfeldt had written reports for Steve in the past and I was to be a continuation of that tradition.
“Looking at the existing outdoor reports, I knew it would be hard for me to make meaningful and fresh weekly contributions to the classic ‘fishing reports’ provided by several local bait shops. I decided instead to write about local fisheries happenings with our crew and summaries of studies that I thought anglers might find interesting.
“Now, 10 years later, I have written more than 500 installments of that style of report, totaling around 110,000 words. For reference, that is right between the word count of the novels Gulliver’s Travels and Walden, by Henry David Thoreau. I would need about four more decades to hit War and Peace. Over the years, I farmed out a few ‘guest items’ to our excellent technicians Scott Braden and Evan Sniadajewski, as they have plenty of adventures and knowledge to share.
“A word search of all my columns finds that I write about walleye most often (550 mentions), then trout (417), bass (270), muskellunge (247), and panfish (196).
“A few years ago, Wisconsin Outdoor News started picking up the occasional item after a write up on winter ice movements caught the eye of editor Dean Bortz, a serious trophy northern pike ice angler. He gave the column the title ‘Ask Max’ in Wisconsin Outdoor News, but interestingly, so far nobody has ever asked me to cover a certain topic!
“Perhaps after 10 years it is time to start taking some requests from the audience, as it is getting difficult to find new topics to cover! Submit your requests to Max.Wolter@wisconsin.gov.
“Thanks for 10 years of reading my fishy thoughts!”
Hayward Lakes Chapter-Muskies Inc. will host its annual FREE Kids Fishing Day on Tiger Cat Flowage Sunday, July 31, from 9 a.m.-1:30 p.m., at Black Iron Bar and Grill on Hwy 77. Experienced anglers guide 10-16-year-old anglers fishing for muskies, bass, and panfish from 9 a.m. to noon, ending with a shore lunch and prize distribution. Adult anglers interested in volunteering as guides or helping with the shore lunch should contact Mike Persson at (715) 634-4543.
Pre-register (required) at Hayward Bait, and a parent or guardian MUST be present to sign the registration form.
For more information, call Hayward Bait at (715) 634-2921.
Northwoods Bass Anglers (NBA) will host an open tournament on the Chippewa Flowage Saturday, July 30, from 8 a.m.-4 p.m. The tournament is headquartering at The Landing Resort on Count Road CC. Participants can launch anywhere on the Flowage and motor to The Landing for final registration, boat inspection, and the take-off meeting.
The entry fee is $100 per two-angler team (an individual may compete as a team), with a maximum of 40 boats/teams. The tournament will pay out for eight places.
For more information, contact Wayne Balsavich at firstname.lastname@example.org or text (405) 227-1789.
Most angler reports indicate fishing action slowed, and hot, variable weather patterns this week will most likely not improve the situation. Can’t catch fish from the couch, however, so get out there and prove me wrong! On the way, stop at your favorite bait shop for the most current information on fish locations, preferred baits, and presentations.
Musky fishing is fair and most catches are smaller ones. The fish are on weeds, weedlines, weed edges, and lily pads in 5-10 feet, and probably deeper with the heat. Best fishing is in early morning and late afternoon into dark. Most success is coming on smaller bucktails, glide baits, and topwaters.
Walleye fishing is good and somewhat consistent. Look for fish on weeds, weed/sand transitions, points, humps, steep breaks, and structure in 12-25 feet. Walleye suckers, fatheads, leeches, and crawlers on jigs and under slip bobbers work well, as do trolled crankbaits, stickbaits, and crawler harnesses.
Northern pike action varies from somewhat slow to very good. The fish are in and around weeds, weedlines, weed edges, and panfish and baitfish concentrations in 4-12 feet. Northern suckers, walleye suckers, spinners, spinnerbaits, spoons, bucktails, crankbaits, and topwaters all catch pike. Smaller, slower baits are more effective at this time.
Largemouth bass fishing is fair to good on weeds, weedlines, weed beds, and lily pads in 4-8 feet, as well as weeds and various structure in depths to 16 feet. Preferred offerings include weedless plastics, plastic worms, spinners, spoons, swim jigs, buzzbaits, and topwaters, and live bait such as sucker minnows, fatheads, and crawlers.
Smallmouth bass are testing the patience and skills of many anglers who target them. Look for fish on deep rock, gravel, wood, humps, cribs, and other structure in 12-25 feet and deeper in exceptionally clear water. Presentations that are producing success include leeches on jigs, drop-shot rigs, Ned rigs, and under slip bobbers, and crankbaits.
Crappie fishing is good to very good on weeds, weedlines, weed edges, bogs, other structure, river channels, and lake basins in 12-22 feet. Baits of choice include crappie minnows, fatheads, waxies, worms, leeches, Mini-Mites, Tattle-Tails, tube jigs, hair jigs, and small Beetle Spins.
Bluegill fishing is very good on weeds, weed beds, weed edges, and other structure in 4-14 feet. The most productive baits include waxies, leaf worms, leeches, crawler chunks, and plastics under bobbers, hair jigs, and small spinnerbaits such as Beetle Spins. Try fishing small minnows slightly deeper for bigger bluegills.
Perch fishing is good in and on the edges of shallow to mid-depth weeds. Best baits and presentations include crappie minnows, crawler chunks, panfish leeches, plastics, hair jigs, Beetle Spins, and similar spinners.
July 28-30: Lumberjack World Championships (715-634-2484).
July 30: Northwoods Bass Anglers (NBA) Open Tournament on Chippewa Flowage (405-227-1789).
Aug. 5-6: Jack Pine Savage Days (715-635-2168).
Aug. 11-14: Sawyer County Fair (715-699-2022).
Aug. 13: Ojibwa Canoe and Kayak Race ‑ Ojibwa Community Park, 9:30 a.m. (877-220-1041).
Aug. 14: Hayward Bass Club ‑ free Youth Bass Tournament on Chippewa Flowage, noon-4 p.m. (405-227-1789).
Aug. 23: DNR virtual public meeting on Sand Lake fisheries management plan; 7-9 p.m. (715-634-7429).
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.